Protein Shakes: Do You Need Them?
There are many misconceptions around protein shakes, this post will hopefully dispel some of the myths around them and give you a clearer understanding of how and why you can implement them into your diet.
One common misconception, especially amongst women, that supplementing with shakes will lead to becoming bulky and overly muscular, that is not true. They are what they say on the tin... protein.
First of all, what is protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is required by your body for a number of functions such as building and repairing muscle tissue, creating enzymes and hormones, as well as growing and maintaining skin, hair and nails.
Animal sources offer the most complete profiles of protein and the easiest way to consume protein within your diet, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Those who follow plant based diets can include more beans, lentils, nuts, quinoa, chickpeas etc.
There are 4kcal per 1g of protein. Therefore 25g would be 100kcal.
How much protein should I consume daily?
Most people do not consume enough protein daily to meet their recommended requirements when aiming to either build muscle or retain it when losing weight. To find out how much protein you currently consume, you can track everything you eat in a day on apps like MyFitnessPal, then use the equation below to see how much you should be aiming for.
bodyweight (lbs) x 0.8 - 1 = grams per day of protein
Why is protein important for my goals?
When the goal is fat/weight loss, it is important to keep protein high for three main reasons:
Preserve muscle tissue; when calories are lower and readily available energy becomes more scarce, your body is more likely to opt for muscle tissue as an energy source. Therefore a higher protein diet can help preserve the hard earned, lean muscle tissue you have built through training as you lose weight - revealing a much curvier body shape underneath.
Burn additional calories; through the 'thermic effect of food' (TEF), your body will burn more calories breaking down protein through the digestive process than any other macronutrient. That way, consuming more protein can actually expend more calories.
Appetite; as above, because the make-up of protein sources is much more complex, it will take your body longer to break them down and keep you fuller for longer. For example, you have equal amount chicken breast and mashed potato... which will fill you up more, and which could you eat way more of?
When the goal is muscle gain, protein is simply required as the building blocks to new muscle tissue.
So, do I need to protein shakes?
However, they can be a useful tool to include if you are currently struggling to keep your protein intake higher or at a level high enough to maintain or grow muscle tissue.
If you're already eating 2-3 meals per day, an additional shake with one scoop of powder as a snack could bump you up an extra 20-25g without needing to sit down and eat another meal, you can simply drink it down. All at the cost of relatively low calories.
There are many options when it comes to buying the right protein powder for you, so I suggest doing your research before buying.
If you would like more information, or have any questions on this subject, please drop them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them for you.