Protein shakes aren’t just for muscle building

Do you ever run around all day and feel like those 24 hours are just not enough for everything? Eating the recommended four to five meals a day tends to be one of those things that end up on the back burner. At the end of the day, you realize you only ate a couple bites here and there.
Shaking up your diet with protein shakes may be the alternative solution that will get you through the day. Brady Nelson, owner of Cape Coral Complete Nutrition store, explains to his customers how they can incorporate protein shakes in their daily routines.
“A common reason why people don’t drink protein shakes is that they don’t know why they should drink them and how they should drink them,” Nelson said.
Crystal Waters, a junior double majoring in finance and marketing, said she doesn’t drink shakes.
“I have a lot of reasons why, but mostly because I don’t feel like I lift enough weights, and I’m not knowledgeable to really know how to consume protein supplements,” Waters said.
Nelson goes straight to the point when someone is hesitant about protein shakes.
“If they eat chicken, fish and steak, then there should be no reason why they shouldn’t have a protein shake as one of their meals,” he said.
Those shakes are also a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
Nelson said that protein shakes are an effective way to keep your calorie intake low and still get the protein and nutritional elements your body needs. It also helps you cut out unnecessary carbs and fat.
Does this mean that you have to drink protein shakes to maintain a healthy lifestyle? If you have the time and access to eat enough food that has the amount of protein your body needs a day, then you’re all set. However, most of the food and snacks we can buy and eat instantly are low in protein and high in carbs and fat.
Nelson said that both men and women usually don’t eat enough protein, so these shakes are a good alternative.
Joan Faris, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Florida Gulf Coast University, said that an active adult needs 0.4 to 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, for example, a 150-pound male needs 60 to 75 grams of protein per day. The more physically active you are the more protein your body needs.
“To put this in perspective, six ounces of chicken breast provides approximately 42 grams protein. The average protein shake provides 20 to 30 grams of protein,” Faris said.
Now that you know that there is no reason for you not to drink protein shakes, here are a couple ways how.
Nelson said that you could have a shake one to two times a day — twice for women on days when they work out and once on rest days. Men could drink two shakes every day.
“Lots of people like starting their days with a shake for breakfast because it’s quick, easy, healthy and gives you a good morning start,” Nelson said.
If you drink a protein shake to replace breakfast, he suggests adding fruits and some complex carbs such as oatmeal, which is a good source of fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer because it’s a slowly digestive carbohydrate, so your body breaks it down slower.
Faris said that other good times for shakes are before and after resistance training. “It has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis,” she said.
Mixing protein with just water post-workout helps with fast muscle recovery. The advantage of drinking a shake after your workout instead of eating a meal is that a shake takes 40 minutes to digest, while it takes six hours to digest food. Because your body digests protein faster, it ensures a more effective muscle recovery.
Nelson said that you can mix your protein powder with almond milk for better flavor and creamier texture; however, it makes the digestive process slower, so it could defeat the purpose of drinking it.
Paddy Murphy, a junior majoring in communication, has six meals a day. Two of them are shakes that he mixes with water.
“I drink a shake before and after my workouts. The flavors aren’t always the greatest, but this is just something you have to put up with,” he said.
You might have to try a couple of flavors before you find the right one. There are all sorts of flavors available on the market such as chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, cinnamon and peanut butter.
Drinking these shakes helps you get through your day without going six or seven hours without food. Shakes will also help boost your metabolism, which will prevent you from gaining weight.
Remember that a protein shake counts as a meal. You might feel hungry after an hour of drinking it because your body digests it quickly. But it doesn’t mean you should go ahead and have some food, because that could lead to weight gain.
Faris said it’s possible to put on fat from having an excess amount of protein in your diet.
If you do decide to replace one or two of your meals with shakes, try to stay away from the premade ones that you find in grocery stores.
“Homemade shakes and smoothies are almost always less expensive and of higher quality than more processed store bought products,” Faris said. “You have the advantage of determining the ingredients and customizing the amounts based on your particular needs.”
Protein shakes aren’t for everyone, so talk to a dietitian to determine if they’re right for you.