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Protein water is made by combining protein powder and water.
It’s sold prepackaged and has become popular in recent years, especially among those looking to rehydrate after a workout. Nevertheless, you may wonder whether protein water is healthy or necessary.
Whey protein isolate, which is extracted from cow’s milk, is one of the most common proteins used in this product.
However, other types of protein are also used, including plant-based proteins and animal-based collagen peptides, which are derived from connective tissue.
This article provides a detailed overview of protein water and examines whether you should drink it.
Depending on the brand of protein water, it can be fairly high in protein while providing relatively few calories.
For example, a 16-ounce (480-ml) bottle of this product may provide 15 grams of protein and only 70 calories (
Protein water may also contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals for the number of calories it contains — but that depends on the brand.
Varieties made with whey protein or collagen likewise contain calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are important for bone health (
Plus, some types may offer added vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B6, B12, C, and D (
That said, some brands use ingredients that aren’t as healthy, such as added sugars, as well as artificial dyes, flavors, or sweeteners.
While the amount of sugar used in protein water is likely fairly small, it can still add up if you regularly consume a lot of protein water.
Protein waters typically provide 15 grams of protein and only 70 calories per 16-ounce (480-ml) bottle. They may also be fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, some varieties may contain added sweeteners, artificial dyes, and flavoring.
Some people need more protein than average. These groups include athletes, those undergoing cancer treatments, and older adults (
Drinking protein water in addition to eating a balanced diet may help these populations.
However, it’s entirely possible to meet increased protein needs by simply consuming more protein in your regular diet. Therefore, drinking this product is not necessary.
Relying on protein water — instead of food sources — for your protein may also jeopardize the variety of amino acids you consume. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and you need to get a variety of them to maintain optimal health (
Protein water has become a popular post-workout drink in the fitness community.
This is because people who are highly active, especially those who engage in resistance training, need more protein for muscle recovery and growth.
Active adults typically need 0.5–0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.2–2 grams per kg) of body weight (
This is a significant increase from the amount of protein sedentary adults require, which is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight. However, people who are highly active can still easily meet their needs via dietary sources.
The beneficial nutrients you’ll get from eating a variety of whole-food protein sources will also aid muscle growth and recovery after workouts.
Therefore, while drinking protein water every once in a while after a hard workout isn’t harmful, the benefits of eating whole foods are far greater.
Increasing protein intake may also aid weight loss.
This is mostly because protein can boost metabolism and increase feelings of fullness, leading to lower calorie intake overall (
In light of these effects, some people may look to protein water to help them lose weight.
However, it’s unnecessary to consume this product to promote weight loss. Simply increasing your intake of lean dietary proteins is sufficient.
Protein water may be a good option for those who need to increase their protein intake, such as athletes, those trying to lose weight, or people who have increased protein needs.
Drinking protein water made from minimal ingredients and without any add-ins is likely not harmful. Yet, doing so is generally unnecessary to meet your protein needs.
Consuming high-protein whole foods, including eggs, meat, dairy products, beans, and nuts, will provide more protein and nutrients than drinking protein water.
In fact, you may already consume enough protein.
One study in nearly 58,000 people found that most Americans get enough of this nutrient. It found that participants consumed enough protein to make up 14–16% of their total calorie intake, which is within the recommended range (
Thus, drinking protein water on top of consuming dietary protein may be unnecessary — and could become an expensive habit.
Who should avoid protein water?
Some people should eat less protein than average, including individuals with kidney disease or poor kidney function, as well as those with protein metabolism issues, such as homocystinuria and phenylketonuria (
If you need to limit or watch your protein intake, you should not drink protein water.
What’s more, be cautious about drinking protein water if you are allergic or intolerant to milk or milk proteins, as many varieties are made with the milk protein whey.
For most people, it doesn’t hurt to drink protein water, but you don’t need it to meet your protein requirements. Those who need to limit their protein intake or have an allergy to whey protein should avoid drinking protein water.
Protein water is a prepackaged product marketed to the fitness community. It’s made by combining water and protein powder, such as whey protein isolate or collagen peptides.
It’s high in protein, low in calories, and likely not harmful in moderation for most healthy people and those who need to increase their protein intake.
However, it’s unnecessary to drink it to meet your protein needs. Regular consumption can be expensive, and some varieties may contain added sugars, dyes, or flavors.
If you want to give protein water a go, you can find it at most grocery or drug stores, online, and at gyms. Just be sure to read product labels carefully to minimize your intake of unhealthy additives.