Protein shakes are everywhere in the fitness world. They’re at the gym, in the office, and at home, and are one of the most popular supplements available today. Whey protein may top the list of choices for many people, but there are soy, pea, and hemp proteins, as well as a bunch of others, too.
Protein shakes may be all the rage. They may taste good too, but there’s one important question when it comes to these tasty wonders: Are they good for you?
The Skinny on Protein Shakes
For whatever reason, protein shakes have taken a bad rap over the years. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a protein supplement is a steroid. No. No, it isn’t. Your favorite protein shake has no negative effects on your hormones and is purely nutritional.
A number of people also seem to think that protein shakes will help them bulk up. This is where knowing the difference between a simple protein shake and a mass gaining supplement comes in handy. According to a 2013 article in The Telegraph, “They [mass gainers] typically include a large amount of simple carbohydrates that get delivered straight to your muscles. These serve a purpose after a workout when the muscle’s energy is depleted, but use them at the wrong time (as many do) and the end result is fat gain” (Source).
Your protein shake, by contrast, is simply delivers amino acids to your muscles to aid in a healthy recovery after you’re done working out. There’s a big difference between the two!
Is There a Right Time to Use Them?
The answer to this one may be yes and no. Figuring out when to supplement with protein can be pretty hard sometimes, but there are two ways that most people use protein supplements.
As a Meal Replacement
Let’s face it. Not all of us have time for a healthy breakfast in the morning. From getting the kids out the door for sports or school to making sure we’re on time for work or other commitments, Â the idea of breakfast can sometimes feel like a myth.
The solution? Whip up a quick protein shake! Add some fruit and veggies to a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder, and you’ve got a great meal replacement option. (If you need simple recipes, check out the two in this article from Daily Burn.)
As a Workout Recovery Supplement
This is easily the most popular option for the use of protein shakes. Not everyone uses them after workouts though, and whether you choose to is completely up to your personal preferences. According to Daily Burn, “protein supplementation post-workout has been shown to beneficial in helping individuals recover after a tough session and potentially increase muscle and strength gain” (Source).
Figuring out how much protein you need can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out the following video for a simple formula that can help you determine how much protein your body needs.
Is Your Protein Shake Actually Good for You?
In most cases, using a protein shake can be great for your health. In fact, there are a number of instances in which they can be very beneficial (Source):
- When you’re growing
- When you’re starting a new workout program
- When you’re amping up your workouts
- When you’re recovering from an injury
- If you’re switching to a vegan lifestyle
Its no secret that protein shakes are a convenient source of high-quality protein, but ditching dietary sources of protein such as meat, fish, and dairy products is never a good idea (unless the diet you follow calls for it, in which case, it’s important to ensure you’re getting proper protein from other food sources).
It’s also important to pay attention to the amount of protein your body actually needs. Many protein powders may contain as many as 80 grams in every serving, which most bodies won’t need.
WebMD states that “all your body is going to do is break it [the protein] down for energy, and too much protein can be hard on your kidneys and liver” (Source).
While an unnecessarily high protein intake is definitely something to watch out for, there are other hings as well. It’s important to choose a truly healthy protein supplement. My favorites are from Vega, which is an entirely plant-based sports nutrition line developed by professional Ironman competitor, Brendan Brazier. Vega’s products are clean and plant-based and delicious. They contain no gluten, soy, or dairy, and are made without any fillers or GMO ingredients.
If your powder of choice is whey, make sure you’re choosing a brand who gets their whey from cows who are not treated with hormones. Always choose all-natural products and be aware that some products can contain unhealthy fillers and GMO ingredients. Keep your health in mind and make the best decision for your body.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Why Protein is Essential for Exercise
- Muscle-Building, Fat-Slimming Protein Smoothie Recipes
- 9 Meatless Ways to Get Protein
- Supplementing with Pea Protein as an Alternative to Whey
If you’re in the market for healthier protein choices, take a look at some of our favorite brands below!
What are your favorite protein supplements? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below, and lets start a conversation.
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