I am a non-meat eating vegetarian. Because I am weightlifting regularly and don't get much protein elsewhere, I have been drinking protein drinks in the morning. I count the calories, but do these protein drinks cause weight gain, or can they be treated like any other meal?
Eating over what you burn causes weight gain. So protein drinks by themselves would not cause weight gain.
A better question is whether or not they are necessary. My personal opinion for most people they are not necessary, and if someone relies on them to get enough protein that is an indication of poor diet. Although it seems like my opinion is in minority here, so whatever.
As a vegetarian bodybuilder myself I find the most challenging aspect is getting a lot of protein in my diet while still watching my total calories. That being said I think it's fine to take protein supplements (I use nutribiotic rice protein, its 55 calories, 12g protein per scoop.) As long as the protein drink isn't too fattening it shouldn't be a problem, just watch your daily caloric intake.
protein shakes are good if you have been lifting weights to feed new muscle. but really most highly effective if you drink them right after a workout. and they have enough calories to replace a meal usually. but a small meal. i use 3 scoops just simple whey protein with no flavorings(one scoop is 25 calories and 6 grams protein, no fat) and some frozen fruit like strawberries, a little yogurt, and milk or oj and some ice, then blend. a banana will sweeten it up nicely too. that way you don't get any strange chemicals. they are delicious and i am hooked on them post workout! they have helped me to lose weight and are reccomended by many diet programs and fitness trainers, etc. i just don't like the flavored ones, they taste funny and usually have artificial sweetner.
Thanks all! I do drink them after my workouts as a meal replacement about three times a week. For someone who has a hard time getting enough protein, these have done the trick.