The Truth About Protein Shakes

The Truth About Protein Shakes

So, you’re working hard on your favorite Shreveport exercise equipment, sweat pouring down, muscles pumping. You finish your work-out, do some stretches, drink some water, and mix up your favorite protein shake to boost muscle growth and replenish nutrients.

But are you sure that’s such a good idea?

Some people will tell you that protein supplements are the best thing for increasing muscle mass and weight loss, that you can’t get too much and more protein is always better, while others raise frightening health warnings.

How do you figure out what to do? This short guide will take an unbiased scientific approach to uncover the truth about protein shakes so you can make the best (and informed) decision about your health and well-being.

The Case for Protein Shakes

The body and your muscles need protein because the body is made out of proteins (at least in part). Dietary protein is necessary for repairing routine tissue damage, but you need more protein when healing from an injury or illness and when your goal is to build more muscle.

Protein-rich food also provides a better feeling of satiation than either fat or carbs. That makes protein helpful for weight-loss as it helps you stave off those nasty hunger pains when you’re on a diet. But with our busy lifestyles, getting enough protein in our diets is sometimes easier said than done.

Protein shakes offer a convenient way to increase your protein intake without any of the fuss needed when preparing a snack or meal. People who use protein supplements often report a greater increase of muscle mass and strength than those who don’t take supplements. And since the body can burn protein for energy, it’s usually OK if you get a little more than you need.

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The Case Against Protein Shakes

It’s OK to get a little too much protein occasionally, but excess protein can damage the kidneys. Keep in mind that adding more protein will not add more muscle. It’s not like muscles are balloons that get bigger and bigger if you pump more stuff into them.

Most people need less protein than they think they do. While athletes do need more than less active people, they also typically need more calories—protein needs can double when a person starts exercising intensively, but calorie needs can easily triple. That means that a food that has too little protein per serving for a sedentary person might be a good protein source for an athlete since the athlete has a much bigger serving.

There is also the fact that most people can get all the protein they need from a well-balanced diet. Concentrated protein powders are a great source of protein, yes, but they don’t have the vitamins and minerals that meats, legumes, and other protein sources do. If you use protein shakes to avoid eating “real food,” you could end up with a case of vitamin deficiency.

Finally, not all protein shakes are healthy. Some contain a lot of sugars, artificial flavorings, and preservatives that may be fine for occasional consumption but really should not be a major part of your regular diet.

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Few Complications

Part of the problem with deciding whether to use protein shakes is that not all protein shakes are the same—and not all people using protein shakes are the same, either. And it’s not just a difference between shakes of better and worse quality. There are actually multiple kinds of protein, multiple ways to supplement, and multiple reasons to take a protein supplement.

Using protein shakes as a “recovery drink,” as referred to at the beginning of this article, is actually not recommended by some fitness professionals that claim “timing” your protein intake isn’t of as great of importance as overall protein intake throughout the day. They say that when you hop off your Shreveport elliptical exercise machine, what you need is carbohydrates to replenish energy reserves, not extra protein. They may still recommend protein supplements in the evening, so the body can rebuild its tissues during sleep, or they may recommend a shake in the morning, for appetite control during the day.

Drinking protein shakes regularly in order to raise your protein consumption far above what you actually need, or in order to get away with eating a diet of junk food otherwise, is a very different situation from using protein supplements as part of a smart, balanced diet. Or maybe you just enjoy an occasional protein shake at one of Shreveport’s many cafes and juice bars.

There are also people who have trouble getting enough protein due to various reasons. Protein needs typically skyrocket during serious illness or the latter stages of old age. For some people, protein supplementation could be very important.

Keep in mind that nutrition is a complex matter and new discoveries are continually being made only to be refuted by newer discoveries.

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