Drinking protein shakes as part of a healthy and balanced diet can help to build muscle and aid athletic training. Combined with water or milk, they are used by many athletes and sports people to sustain themselves post work out too.
There are several different types of protein shake, including whey, soy, casein, egg white and milk protein to name but a few, and it’s important to do your research and weigh up the many pros and cons to be before you head to your local sports nutrition shop.
Protein powder is absorbed very quickly, whey in particular. This means that your body can process it much more quickly than it can solid lean protein, making it great for building muscle whilst losing fat. It’s really convenient too as you can carry a bag of powder with you in your bag, ready to use whenever you choose to hit the gym.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, soy protein is also an option- this is made from plant based products and has been proven to lower cholesterol levels. Soy is also high in vitamin e, iron, zinc and potassium.
Whey protein may also carry health benefits – there are many studies which prove the effectiveness of this kind of protein in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The average protein shake mixed with water, contains on average around 100- 200 calories. There is evidence to suggest the excess calories and sugar, as part of a diet which does not lack protein, can actually make individuals put on weight. If you compare shakes to foods of a similar calorific value, they are roughly the same as quarter cup of brown rice or around 28 baby carrots! So at times, you could be better waiting on your next meal than replacing it with a shake.
Depending of course on where you buy your protein shakes, they can be expensive. Often you have to buy in bulk which makes giving them a temporary try quite difficult.
If you are an ambassador of the clean living movement, as many gym bunnies are- you might find it difficult to get your head around the ingredients in a shake without doing a Google search to look up each one!
Natural and home-made protein shakes are also something to consider. You can make your own using everyday ingredients such as nuts and seeds or peanut butter coupled with skimmed or dairy free milk. Remember, if you do decide that shakes are something you would like to try, drink them 30 minutes to an hour before working out to give your stomach a chance to settle before exercising.
Image by Scott Feldstein, used under the Creative Commons license.