Sugar in Protein Shake: Is It Bad?

Dear Davey,

I recently bought a protein shake, but when I got home and read the ingredients more carefully, I realized just HOW MUCH SUGAR is in it! It has over 50 grams of sugar per serving!

Is that bad? Does the sugar prevent muscle growth? Does the sugar out-weigh the protein content?


Hey Christopher,

It seems like the necessity of post-workout carbohydrates is one of the best keep fitness secrets.

Everyone knows that your body needs protein after hitting the gym - but many people overlook the importance of post-workout carbs. When taken after a workout, carbohydrates restore muscle glycogen. And if you don’t eat carbs in your post-workout recovery meal, your body may actually break down existing muscle for this very same purpose.

And yes, even if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you still need to consume carbs after you exercise.

The sugars in your protein shake are carbohydrates, and so it sounds like your shake is designed specifically for post-workout consumption. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for general protein supplementation (i.e., some protein before bed), then it’s wise to seek out a lower carb alternative.

Experts recommend anywhere from 40 up to 70 (or more) grams of carbs after a workout; the 50 grams of sugar in your shake do the trick.

Interestingly, the best carbs to consume are those that are absorbed the quickest. The carbohydrates found in multi-grain bread, for example, break down slowly. After a workout, your body needs to carbs fast - so simple sugars, like those in your shake, are the best approach. Yes, I just gave you a green light to eat simple sugars. But only after a workout.

I hope that helps!

Davey Wavey

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. good article Davey… mainly because you gave some light on protein shake’s name ingredients and we have no idea why they are there - as sugar as Cristopher wrote about.

  2. My first thought to the picture on this one was:

    “Pour some sugar on him, he’s hot sticky sweet.”


  3. Probably he purchased a mass gainer.

  4. Workout = Chocolate cake…
    I can live with that logic lol

  5. ummm … just wanted to point out that sugar slows protein metabolism … this has been known for many decades, surprised it isn’t realised here …. incidentally, would also point out that sugar is not the same as complex carbohydrates, as it is not treated in the same way and can put a strain on pancreatic function, again surprised this knowledge of some decades is not considered …

  6. Carbohydrates are a macromolecule. Simple sugars like Frutose, Gluecose, Lactose, Galatose, Glycogen, & Chitin(kite in) are a great way to get energy and build up muscle and speed up the metabolism. But a greater way is to eat your whole grains that way your liver can store the carbohydrate and use it naturally or use it when the body needs it! Calvin- Carbohydrates are sugars it varies from monosaccharide to disaccharide to polysaccharide!

    It’s best to eat your whole grains, whole milk, and vegetables like celery and carrots! I am currently learning bio chemistry

  7. Christopher says:

    Thanks avey!!
    That saves me from throwing out £30 worth of protein shake 🙂

    Always good advice, much appreciated!!!


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