P/Cal – The Most Important Number You Aren’t Using… Yet

Featured Nutrition


A quick glance at any nutritional label and you’ll see total calories, grams of the big three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs), and a few daily percentages according to a “recommended daily allowance.” Usually these labels focus on negatives – maximum recommended percentages (eg – % recommended daily carbs), but at Quest we like to keep things positive… like the correlation between specific macronutrients and total calories. Ideal macro ratios will vary from person to person depending on your goals. For protein powders in particular, we like to use the percentage of total calories that come from protein as sort of a scoring rubric. We call this P/Cal.



P/Cal is a simple ratio – it’s the percentage of total calories in any food item (Quest or otherwise) that are protein calories (as opposed to carb or fat calories). It’s basically a measure of a product’s protein purity.


Finding P/Cal

Finding the P/Cal of any product is pretty easy: Multiply the grams of protein by 4 (there are about 4 calories per every gram of protein) to get your total protein calories. Then divide this number by the total calories per serving. Written as a formula, P/Cal looks like this:


(Protein Grams x4)

Total calories


When we set out to make protein powder, our goal was to create a line of delicious unique flavors with the highest possible P/Cal for a blend of whey, casein, and milk protein isolates.


P/Cal in Practice

Take Quest Multi-Purpose Mix Protein Powder as an example. It’s got 24 grams of protein per serving. Multiply that number by 4 to discover the protein calories and you get 96. Anything with 24 grams of protein in it would have to have at least 96 calories. Multi-Purpose Mix has 100 calories. So divide 96 by 100 to get the product’s P/Cal – 96%!

Why a high P/Cal?

Our powders range from 80-96% P/Cal per flavor, one of the highest P/Cal ranges for any protein blend on shelves today. Quest Protein Powders are designed to be clean and delicious – maximum P/Cal with maximum flavor. That means no unnecessary filler ingredients (like cheap maltodextrin to take up canister space and drive up the carb content). In our opinion, your powder should be adaptable so you can eat toward your goals, adjusting your macros up and down depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. That means protein powder should be mostly protein. If you want to add carbs or fat to your diet, we’ve created Add-On powders to let you do that, allowing you to create your own macronutrient blend to suit your dietary needs. We want to make it easier than ever before to take full control of your nutrition.


Think of it this way: if your body is your car and your food is your fuel, what do you want to put in to yield the maximum results? For those with protein in mind, P/Cal is your octane rating. Go for the higher number, the pure stuff, to keep your engine running strong and smooth. Unlike your car, you’ve only got one body, and its yours for life.