Walk into any gym nowadays, and you’re just as likely to hear the rattling of a shaker bottle as the clanking of weights. Powders, bars, and other supplements have become so ingrained in workout culture that it’s hard to imagine not following up a great workout with a shake of some sort (and sometimes even mid-workout). And protein shake, specifically, is leading the charge. Created by various sources — from whey to soy to pea — the popular supplement has cemented its place in our minds, our diets and even our local grocery stores.
Protein in a mass- building or get-lean diet is a lot like a mutual fund or a 401(k) plan: You know you need it, but you’re not always sure which one to pick. There are simply so many of them. But just as diversifying your investment portfolio is crucial to long-term wealth, so too is including a variety of different proteins in your daily meal plan.
The proteins found in whole foods like beef, poultry, fish, and dairy are vital, but so are those found in protein powders, bars, and ready-made shakes. Problem is, with the growth of the supplement industry in the past couple of decades, there seem to be just as many different proteins in stores as there are mutual funds on Wall Street.
To understand more the ins and outs of proteins shake here’s everything you should know about protein shakes before taking them.
What Is A Protein Shake?
Protein shakes consist of powdered forms of protein such as soy or whey, which is a by-product of the cheese-making process. Flavoring is added to the powder so that when it’s blended with milk or water, it resembles a milkshake-style drink.
What Are The Benefits Of Protein Shakes?
Whey, casein and milk-based protein shakes are essentially the best parts of milk, with carbohydrates and fats removed. This allows you to increase your protein intake without vastly increasing your intake of other macronutrients, which can help to boost athletic performance, improve muscle tone and increase overall health.
How much protein does the body need?
Without adequate protein, training hard will leave your muscles with a deficit of the building blocks they need to recover, which means you'll never build new fibers. There's a lot of debate as to the ideal amount of protein to consume on a daily basis; each individual needs to work out their body's specific need. However, the traditional recommendation for muscle building is 0.7 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
When And How Should You Take It?
Choosing the correct time to take your protein can affect the benefits it has on you and your body. Protein shakes can be consumed:
- Immediately after a workout
When training, the most important time to take protein is straight after your workout. Your muscles will then soak up the nutrition for muscle recovery and growth.
- Before a workout
When you work out, it's good to have a protein shake 30 minutes before your first rep to create an 'anabolic window', which lowers the damage to your muscles as you train. If you're taking a shake with carbs (like banana), it will give you extra energy and also reduce exposure to muscle damage.
- First thing in the morning
Taking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a good way to get essential nutrients after eight hours of sleep. There are also a number of great ways you can use protein powder besides shakes, including in the recipes for protein pancakes, flapjacks or cookies.
Should You Use Protein Shakes?
The most important factor to consider when deciding whether or not you need to begin supplementing with whey protein is to remember that it’s just a food supplement. Don’t expect instant results: whey protein is a great source of protein, and that will help you build muscle, but it's not going to ‘do’ anything for you that food wouldn’t do.
Like all supplements, whey protein is best used as part of your overall health and fitness efforts, which will include planning the correct training phases, training intensity, consistency, adequate rest periods, and, of course, a nutritional program calibrated to your current goals.
Although protein shakes may be a convenient way to take in calories, it doesn’t mean that they’re always the best option. Whole food sources are still your best bet for getting vital nutrients. Build your diet with a base of solid food and use the protein shake as a supplement when it’s healthy and convenient. In this post, I shared with you everything you should know about protein shakes before taking them.
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