Men and women alike are embracing protein shakes as a quick and easy pick-me-up after a workout. Whether you are exercising to enhance your muscles or to lose weight, this drinkable supplement is an appealing way to stay healthy and increase your protein intake.
But exactly what do protein shakes do for your body? Are they the modern equivalent to snake oil, or what their manufacturers say true? Are there any drawbacks?
Check out these ten facts about protein shakes to find out.
Aid Weight Loss
Many people choose to add protein to their diet as part of a weight loss program. Whey protein, commonly used in powders, helps improve muscle protein synthesis and promotes the growth of lean muscle mass.
A protein shake will make a healthy substitute for a meal, and it is a great alternative to more fattening forms of protein like red meat. They fill you up quickly and give you energy.
Protein also helps you build muscle. Although women have long resisted weight lifting out of a misplaced fear it will make them “bulky,” lifting weights actually helps women get leaner and burn more fat. Protein shakes added to weight lifting make a great combination.
Whey protein is considered a complete protein: it contains nine essential amino acids. It contains a significant amount of the amino acid leucine, which is essential to the process of building muscle.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends ingesting between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight to increase muscle mass. That is about 135 grams for a 165-pound adult. Some bodybuilders even recommend consuming more than that!
Remember, athletes are not the only people who especially require high intakes of protein. Growing children need those high doses to boost growing muscles as they age.
Although medical findings are not yet definitive on whether protein shakes can help fight cancer, there is anecdotal evidence to support their use amongst current cancer patients.
When people’s appetites are affected by chemotherapy, protein shakes are a soothing way to get protein when solid food makes them nauseous. High levels of protein also promote healing after surgical or medical treatments.
One research study in the United Kingdom noted that participants who consumed whey supplements for three months showed a significant decrease in cholesterol when compared with people who did not take the supplement.
High cholesterol can lead to heart disease in some patients, so anything that reduces this condition should be considered, especially if it runs in your family. However, make sure you read the ingredients of whatever protein shake or powder you are considering as some have more sodium than others, and sodium is detrimental to lowering cholesterol.
Be sure to check whether the powder you buy contains lactose, too, because that can cause some digestive problems for people who are lactose-intolerant.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Beverages supplemented with whey protein have been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It also lowers the risk of developing heart disease or a stroke.
Added to a healthy exercise routine, drinking these shakes as part of a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your longevity and wellbeing.
Protein shakes are excellent sources of nutrition for people seeking to boost their immunity. Doctors have used them in hospitals for patients suffering from HIV and other immuno-compromised conditions.
Children suffering from immunity-related conditions like asthma have also been found to benefit from additional protein. Some researchers discovered that children with asthma who took 10-grams of whey protein twice daily for 1 month had an improved immune response. What better way to drink down that healthy protein than in a yummy shake?
Help You Heal
Athletes love protein shakes because they help them recover from intense workouts quickly. Shakes made with whey protein promote muscle growth and repair through boosting metabolism. If you have run a marathon, drinking a supplemented shake will reduce your recovery time and help ease muscle soreness.
This rationale has led to people using protein shakes to recover from other kinds of damage to the body. They are recommended for everything from post-cancer recovery to wound healing.
Enhances a Vegan Diet
If you are going to give up meat and other animal-based foods, it can be challenging to get your daily allotment of protein. Legumes, nuts, and veggies are not always enough, especially if you are extremely active. Smoothies can help, but too much peanut butter to get the protein can also make you put on weight.
Protein shakes can supplement a plant-based diet to make sure you get enough of this essential nutrient. Before or after training, whip up a shake and, for the best results, add ingredients like dextrose, raw honey, fruits or other carbohydrate sources to your post-workout shake.
You aren’t limited to beverages either. These powders are available in a wide range of flavors and can be added to cookies, pancakes, muffins and other snacks.
This attribute is great if you suffer from a condition where you are underweight. However, this side effect is not so great if you really want to lose those pounds.
Many protein shakes also contain a lot of sugar, so be very careful and read the ingredients of any product you buy. One of the most commonly cited downsides to protein shakes is that they can actually deter weight loss if they are not used properly- meaning, in conjunction with a fitness regime.
What Do Protein Shakes Do For Your Body? A Lot of Good!
If you are wondering what do protein shakes do to your body, rest assured that most of their effects are beneficial. If you use them judiciously along with a healthy diet and work out plan, they can help you boost your metabolism and energy, in addition to providing long term health benefits.
For more information on how to live a long and healthy life, check out our blog.