Protein shakes - should I use them, and what type?

First of all, I'm just going to assume that you know the importance of protein within a healthy diet. If you don't know.... Click here

Why would I use protein shakes? Can't I just get my protein from food?

Yes, most people can get all of their protein from food, however, there are some cases where protein shakes can be very useful.

1. If you are on a lower calorie diet - With not a lot of calories to play with, shakes are a great way of upping your protein whilst sparing calories due to their low calorie content. This will also help with satiety and keeping you feeling full.

2. If you are busy and don't have time to eat a meal (especially post workout) - There is such a thing as a metabolic window, and although it lasts much longer than most people think, it is still important to get some protein in after you exercise.

3. If you are struggling to get enough protein in your day-to-day diet - For some people, especially athletes or those who exercise regularly, it can be difficult to meet the optimal protein requirements. In these cases, protein shakes can help increase their daily intake by being easy and quick to digest.

4. If you need to increase the protein content of a meal - e.g. protein porridge. Oats by themselves don't contain much protein, so adding some whey powder will increase this, whilst also adding some flavour.

Aren't they really processed?

Short answer. No.

Whey protein is produced using the same process as cheese. When making cheese, you need to separate the protein into casein and whey. The casein is used for the cheese and you are then left with whey powder, which can be used for protein shakes.

So unless you want to give up cheese because it is 'too processed', then enough with the 'processed' and 'chemicals' talk.

Why Whey?

Whey protein is superior to other forms of protein powders such as soy or Pea protein for a number of reasons.

1. There is a greater leucine content - Hitting your leucine threshold stimulates Muscle protein synthesis - this is what you need for all the gains.

2. Faster digestion and better absorption kinetics

3. Post training, Muscle protein synthesis was 122% greater in whey than in casein and 31% greater than in soy protein (Tang et al. 2009)

There are times when other forms of protein may be more beneficial. For example Casein has been shown to decrease muscle protein breakdown by 34% (Boirie et al, 1997). This would make it a good choice before bed.

What to look for?

1. Leucine content - Whey or casein will generally have greater leucine content- but keep an eye out for this.

2. Protein Quality - This applies more to protein bars, but look out in the ingredients list for 'hydrolysed collagen' and 'gelatine'. If these are one of the first few listed in the ingredients, then the amino acid profile and leucine content will be poor. So avoid those bars!

3. Macro nutrients - How many grams of Protein per scoop, how many carbs and then of those carbs how much sugar. If there are only 15 grams per scoop, you may end up needing 2 scoops. In addition, if there is a high amount of carbs, this will add to the Kcal per scoop.

4. Price! If it's something you're going to use regularly, don't pay £30 for 1KG. Find something you can afford on a regular basis.

For the Protein that I use and recommend, go to:

You can message me for up to 35% off!

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