Everything You Need To Know About Protein Shakes
Everything you need to know about protein shakes
– Protein shakes are so popular these days that almost everyone in the gym seems to be consuming them. Not so long ago, it was only bodybuilders who drank them, but times have changed. Indeed, so many gym-goers are enjoying the benefits that protein shakes provide – if you’re not already drinking them, you may be starting to feel a little bit left out.
Would you like to know what you’re missing? If so, read on. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about protein shakes.
What are protein shakes?
Protein shakes are often confused with mass gainers, and although they will help build your muscle, they’re not a bulking aid. The main purpose of protein shakes is actually to provide your muscle cells with amino acids, which are naturally found in protein and help to repair your muscles after a workout.
You see, every time you exercise you will tear tiny muscle fibres. The amino acids repair these tears and fill up the gaps, which is what makes your muscles bigger. They don’t just simply ‘swell up’ from overuse.
Protein shakes are purely nutritional and therefore have no effect on your hormones, unlike steroids. They’re used by everyone who wants to build muscle, but who are unable to consume a high enough amount of protein to do so.
When should I use them?
For the best results, you should always drink a protein shake straight after your session at the gym, as this is when your muscles most need those amino acids. Solid food takes more time than a shake to digest and break down into protein – the amino acids in shakes on the other hand take just 30 minutes to reach your muscles.
It’s also a good idea to drink a shake before you go to bed, as the protein in your body will diminish as you sleep. For similar reasons, many athletes choose to have a shake in the morning too. You shouldn’t, however, use protein shakes to replace a meal – you still need to consume solid sources of protein.
What flavours are available?
There are a wide variety of flavours on the protein shake market but strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and banana are the staples – you’ll find them everywhere! There are plenty of other tasty flavours to sample though, including chocolate peanut butter, raspberry ripple and banoffee. Some might be limited editions, so grab them fast!
Shakes vs high protein diets, which is better?
Some athletes prefer to get all their protein from food, but this can be difficult if you’re trying to build muscle. You should aim to consume around 2 – 2.5g of protein per kg of bodyweight, but some athletes choose to take in as much as 3.5g. Therefore, if you weigh 90kg, you should be eating between 180 – 315g of protein a day.
To put this into perspective, a lean chicken breast contains around 20 – 25g of protein, and a 6oz steak has 40g. This means you’d have to eat an awful lot of chicken, steak, eggs and other high protein foods every single day. That’s a workout for your stomach as well as your wallet! Protein shakes are a great, convenient way to top up your protein each day. You’ll save both time and money.
As we said previously, you still need to consume solid protein – you should never rely on shakes alone.
Tips for mixing your shake
All protein shakes are different, which is why it’s important to read the label of yours to ensure you’re mixing it correctly. If you don’t get the water/milk to powder ratio right, you’ll end up with a clumpy shake that’s not enjoyable to drink.
It is also best to pour the water or milk in your shaker first before the powder, as that way no lumps can stick to the bottom. Mix your drink together like Bond – shaken, not stirred.
To make your shake more interesting, feel free to add oats, fresh fruits or ice. They can also be used as a milk substitute when eating cereal. There are tons of great recipes out there, so don’t limit yourself to just protein powder and water, mix it up!
Hopefully you’re now completely clued up on what protein shakes are, what they can do and when you should use them. If you really want to look after those muscles (and help them grow in size), shakes are a convenient and relatively inexpensive solution. We guarantee that once you try them, you won’t look back.
This post was written by Laura Varley, a journalist currently based in Portsmouth, UK. She wrote this article on behalf of Sci Mx – a sports nutrition and bodybuilding supplements specialist.