It’s time to jump inside the shakers that almost everyone is carrying around the gym. What is this obsession with protein shakes? What are the benefits of protein shakes? And how or when should one take them?
Let’s get to it.
What are Protein Shakes?
A protein shake is a drink which contains protein powders mixed with water or milk. Many question whether they are natural. The answer isn’t as complicated as it is made out to be.
Whey itself is a byproduct of curdling milk, the process by which cheese is made.This is where the curd is physically separated from the whey, the curd is used to make cheese. There is only one raw material in all whey related products – milk. Despite popular opinion, it is not chemically modified. The flavours obviously will not be natural, though.
When should I take them?
Opinions are divided about the effectiveness of protein shakes as a pre-workout. The reason for it not being a popular option is because many believe that the most of the protein is burnt during the workout that follows.
However, there are some clear benefits that are agreed upon by everyone that can be gained by consuming it before your workout. Studies show that consuming protein before working out results in protein synthesis happening during rather than after your workouts. Another benefit is that the supplementation of protein and carbohydrates can limit muscle damage during and after the workout.
Perhaps due to the array of ‘Pre workout’ supplements available, protein shakes are still more commonly consumed immediately after workouts. Protein uptake is faster immediately after a workout and it kick starts the muscle recovery process. After all, your body is most in need of nutrients straight after a workout.
As a snack?
It’s important to remember that in order to achieve results, you need to be getting your daily required protein uptake. Protein shakes are there to help you anytime and that includes a snack or even meal replacement. The underlying aim is for you to get the required calories and the required protein based on your respective goal.
Benefits of protein shakes
The benefits of protein shakes are immense. Protein shakes are notorious for increasing the rate of protein synthesis in our body, that is, the building up of protein in our body. By doing this, they increase muscle mass. Furthermore, when we workout, small tears in our muscle tissue (known as microtears) develop as a result of the contraction of our muscles during the exercise. Protein shakes are crucial in repairing these tears and hence are known for muscle recovery and prevention of injury.
Insulin is a hormone which limits the breakdown (opposite of synthesis) of protein. Protein shakes contain amino acids and with the right type and amount, can aid in the secretion of insulin.
Women and protein shakes
A common misconception that still prevails is that protein shakes are mostly for men.The notion seems to be that protein shakes are only for men looking to bulk-up. The main concern is that protein shakes will bulk them up and cause bloating. However, whey protein can also help in toning and even weight loss. An excellent choice is consuming whey protein isolate, as this contains a higher percentage of protein and more importantly, a lesser percentage of carbs and fats.
Who can take protein shakes?
Anyone can take protein shakes. It’s important to remember protein shakes are there to supplement your diet. The key is to identify how much protein you need (which will vary based on your goal) and how you will attain that amount. Protein shakes are there to act as a quick and convenient source to reaching this amount. They are seen as pivotal to those looking to gain muscle as it is very difficult to consume a required protein amount just through the food we eat. Hence the word supplement.
Take home message
Hopefully, this would have debunked some of the myths roaming around about protein shakes. Whey protein is completely natural, 100% derived from milk. They can be taken anytime, including as a snack or as a meal replacement.
People usually consume them 30 minutes before or immediately after a workout for best results.They bring many benefits but most importantly increase protein synthesis and muscle repair. These benefits are there for men and women.
Furthermore, there is no conclusive research to suggest that it causes bloating and weight gain. If you watch your calories, consuming protein shakes (especially isolate) can aid in weight loss. Always remember to pick your protein based on your individual goals. Good luck!