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Crucial or Craze: Are Protein Shakes Actually Good for You?
Head Nutritionist & Sports Dietitian
The power of protein is a frequently discussed topic, from hardcore trainers to more casually active people. Its restorative properties aid in exercise, but it’s also just an essential source of energy for everyone.
Protein shakes are known as a quick and convenient way to get your fix, and are very fashionable these days. Regular gym goers can often be seen knocking back a freshly mixed shake by the water cooler, while wiping away droplets of hard-earned sweat. But are they really all they’re cracked up to be?
A Quick Rundown
So, is the hype around protein shakes warranted or have we fallen for just another fad in the pursuit of trying to improve our health and wellbeing? Let’s take a look at the facts...
Is protein beneficial?
You may have noticed that “high protein” has become the new “low fat”. Grocery stores are now overflowing with protein rich foods and snacks, trying to satisfy our appetite and improve our ability to balance our work day, family life and health.
“Protein is inarguably important. Its primary benefit is to help our muscles recover and improve in strength." - Ryan Pinto
Additional benefits of protein extend to appetite suppression. Protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer by suppressing the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This, in turn, helps you to burn fat by keeping your lean tissue primed and ready to use body fat as a fuel source.
What type of protein should I consume?
Any nutrition expert, when asked about the foundations of a nutritious intake, would sing from the same hymn sheet as the next. The lyrics? Wholefoods are life! Wholefoods are preferred for anyone looking to improve their diet. If you read between the lines, Rule 101 of any diet trend starts with switching your intake to wholefoods.
Convenience tends to play a major role in stopping people consuming wholefoods. This is why many people hunt for natural and lower calorie snacks and meals. These provide similar amounts of the good stuff found within wholefood options such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and fibre.
Healthier protein shakes provide you with necessary amino acids and nutrients required to improve your recovery.
When it comes to protein shakes, there has long been debate as to whether or not they are a healthy option. Should they be consumed daily or are they a waste of time?
The answer: No, they’re not a waste of time, but how much you consume is dependent on a number of factors.
Protein shakes are a convenient form of wholefood and can be made from many different sources of protein, from dairy to plant-based protein.
These can vary significantly from healthy versions to rather less nourishing sugar-filled, milkshake-like drinks. Healthier protein shakes provide you with necessary amino acids (the building blocks of muscle) and nutrients required to improve your recovery. Milkshake-like options tend to be low in protein and packed with sugar.
What sort of protein shake is right for me?
When should I have a protein shake?
A protein shake can be consumed anytime throughout the day. For some guidance though, most people either drink these shakes as a healthy snack to get them through the morning or the afternoon slump, as fuel prior to exercise (30-60 minutes before) or after training to aid with recovery.
So, now that you know what to look out for in a protein shake, it’s time to put that knowledge to use. We’re confident you’ll know just the right convenient, high protein shake for pre- or post-workout for effective recovery.
Equally, if you’re after a quick snack that isn’t the local café muffin with a calorie content of a three-course meal, it’s time to head out and shake things up!
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