Should I Drink Protein Shakes While Cutting?

illustration of man drinking whey protein from a shaker

Losing weight can be tough, but extremely rewarding. There are different guidelines about what’s fastest or the most effective, but it really comes down to a simple concept. To lose weight and body fat you need to be consuming less calories than you’re burning. Over time this leads you to lose weight and cut off some of that extra fat.

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    If you have muscle mass to show, losing weight will often show of more of this hidden muscle. However, looking better isn’t the number one reason for losing weight. Losing weight can get you to a place where your body runs much smoother, and you just feel better.

    Eat a little less, and you’ll lose weight. It’s simple, but there are often more caveats that come up in the conversation.

    For example, what about supplements? Are there supplements that you should be taking during a cut? More importantly, what about protein shakes? Are protein shakes something that you still need even when trying to lose weight?

    The point of this article will be to explain whether or not you need to drink protein shakes while cutting. We’re going to start with a simple understanding of what a cut is, and then break down how you should go about shakes during a weight loss period.

    Let’s dive in!

    What Does It Mean to Cut?

    You may or may not have heard this term before. Cutting just simply refers to losing weight and cutting body fat. The idea is that this makes you look “cut” up once you lose enough of that existing body fat.

    If someone is on a cutting period, then they’re more than likely tracking their caloric intake to try and hit a caloric deficit. This just means that based on their individual stats, they’ll be eating less than what they burn. This number varies based on the person, as everyone has different genetics, jobs, lifestyles, etc. Over time, being in this deficit will lead the body to burn up excess body fat. Weight will be lost, and you’ll eventually achieve a much leaner body composition.

    While cutting is effective, it should be considered that it’s nothing to take to the extremes. Unless you’re a professional athlete with years of experience, you shouldn’t be going into any intense cutting periods. To lose weight and improve your body composition, you just need to be in a deficit to see results.

    In a very shortened version, that’s what cutting looks like overall.

    Should You Drink Protein Shakes While Cutting?


    Protein shakes come in all sorts of flavors and varieties, but even so, are they useful for a cut? Protein shakes are going to be your best friend when you’re cutting, and heres’ why.

    Protein not only builds muscle but helps to maintain it as well. As you start to cut calories, you won’t really be in a place to put on more muscle, as this takes excess calories to do well. Thus, you’re going to want to preserve muscle during this time. You’re going to be trying to preserve muscle because your body may be trying to break it down during a cut. As you continue into a deficit, your body may try and break some of your existing muscle down as a way of creating energy. This only happens when you’re not getting in enough protein, therefore, you’re going to need higher amounts of protein. The best way to think about this is to think less calories equals more protein. As you decrease your caloric intake, your protein needs to be going up.

    The point of a protein shake is to get in more protein. Therefore, having them around during a cut is going to be a necessity.

    So, to answer the question, yes you should drink protein shakes on a cut.

    However, we need to talk about the reasons why….

    The Benefits of Drinking Protein Shakes on a Cut

    When you’re cutting, you need more protein. This can be done with food alone, but this can make things a little less than ideal. It’s difficult to get that much protein from just meals and protein foods can come with other macronutrients that boost the calorie count. Protein shakes are pure protein and are fairly low in calories. This knocks out two birds with one stone – high protein and low calories.

    To achieve the same high protein, low calorie intake with real food, you’re going to have to use something bland like a chicken breast. You’ll be getting plenty of this more than likely, so if you can opt for a convenient and tasty protein shake instead, you should.

    It should also be noted that as you cut, your cravings for higher calorie foods might increase. Protein shakes can be used to hinder this some and may even work as a great replacement. So, shakes are great for that protein intake, but also fighting off cravings.

    Keep shakes around during your cut and you’ll be golden. Just make sure to keep them close by and easy to access. Putting your stash away where you never see it won’t be much help.

    Real Food vs Protein Shakes When Cutting

    This is going to be your bread and butter, so make sure that whole foods make up most of your protein intake. Shakes are great for adding to, but you need the vitamins and minerals that come along with whole foods.

    So, don’t take this as a pass to just consume shakes for protein. They’re a supplement that will help fill in the gaps you might have in your diet.

    Wrapping Up

    You won’t fail a cutting phase without protein shakes. However, they’re going to make your life much easier when it comes to hitting a protein intake, maintaining muscle mass, and crushing your goals.

    Protein shakes are convenient, high in protein, and low in calories. This makes them a great addition to a cut, and you’re going to be much better off if you include them. They’ll even help you to fight off cravings and the sweet tooth if you find one that you enjoy drinking.

    Why does this matter? As you cut weight and eat in a deficit, you’re going to need that extra protein to maintain muscle mass. Otherwise, your body will pull from existing muscle for energy. Use protein shakes for the extra protein, keep your muscle mass, and end up looking great!

    Real food is still important to this equation as well. A protein shake won’t give you complete nutrition, nor will it make you magically lose weight. You need to consume whole foods, eat in a caloric deficit, and exercise if you truly want to see results. At most, you should consume about 2 protein shakes a day. More than this, and you might be over doing it.

    Cutting is effective when done right. It can be really simple if you follow the steps involved. You can throw protein shakes in as well if you need help hitting those protein intake goals. You don’t have to have them, but they’re really going to help you get where you want to be!

    About The Author

    Michael Collins

    Michael Collins

    Michael is a gym enthusiast with experience that spans more than 20 years. He started his exhilarating journey of keeping fit in his late teens, and over the years, he has immensely grown to become a resourceful gem in matters of fitness.

    He has been writing for many years, focusing on answering all the questions you may have on nutrition, muscle building and fitness. Keeping fit and staying healthy is his main passion, and this is evidenced in the articles he writes in a simple and understandable language out of intensive reading and real-life experiences.