Should you drink protein shakes? If so, which kind should you choose?
Are Protein Shakes for Everyone?
Today’s protein shakes are mostly consumed by serious athletes. However, some people use protein shakes for weight loss.
Fitness programs like weight training tear down muscle tissue as part of a process that triggers the body to respond by not only healing the muscle but making it larger after the repair than it was before. Those complex cellular activities require a considerable amount of protein.
An athlete may reach the point in his training where he finds it difficult to eat enough protein to satisfy his body’s demand. Therefore, a protein shake can help him continue to supply his body with what it needs to grow additional muscle mass.
What Ingredients are in a Protein Shake?
The primary ingredient, of course, is protein. The type of protein may differ from one protein powder to another.
The most common protein sources are whey and casein, both of which are derived from milk.
Whey protein powders dominate the shelves of health food stores. It’s a favorite with bodybuilders and other athletes who ask a lot of their bodies.
Whey contains only a small amount of the sugar lactose but it could still pose a problem for you if you’re lactose intolerant. This form of whey may be listed on the label of a canister of protein powder as whey concentrate.
Whey concentrates come in a few variations. One form, whey isolate, is a particularly strong concentrate that has been stripped of lactose, cholesterol and water.
Another type, whey hydrolysate, is easier to absorb because enzymes have been used to break down some of the whey molecules.
Casein is a slowly absorbed protein. It’s the second most popular type of protein powder.
Protein powders are also available for vegans. There’s soy, pea, hemp and brown rice. Each has its own set of characteristics.
You might find that you prefer one type of protein powder for a certain situation while leaning toward another type for a different set of circumstances. For example, one might taste better in your favorite smoothie while the other makes a nice addition to a dessert recipe.
How Can a Protein Shake Serve as a Weight Loss Shake?
Protein tends to tamp down hunger while also making you feel full. That dual action causes you think less about snacking. It also means that when you do eat a regular meal you’re more inclined to eat smaller portions.
How Much Protein Do You Need in Your Shake to Lose Weight?
According to one study, hunger levels dropped by 50-65% when volunteers drank shakes containing 20-80 grams of protein.
The study involved 10 young adult male athletes whose workouts included both strength and endurance training.
The study lasted four sessions during which the athletes consumed a protein shake one hour after breakfast.
Researchers then monitored the volunteers throughout the day to gauge their level of hunger.
The study found that the study’s minimum amount of 20 grams of protein delivered results comparable to that produced by the study’s maximum amount of 80 grams.
If you’re trying to lose weight, 20 grams seems to be the target you want to hit. A higher dosage of protein doesn’t appreciably help weight loss, and it may put unnecessary stress on your body to try to process all that excess protein.
What are Some Ways to Prepare Protein Powder Other Than a Shake?
A shake is the primary way people consume protein powder, but there lots of recipes for using it in other ways, too.
You can add it to the batter of your waffles or muffins.
A bowl of oatmeal is also a great place to toss in a little extra protein.
Try mixing it with your coffee or hot chocolate.
Would you believe that you can bake healthy cookies with protein powder? Even doughnuts are possible.
Don’t worry if you feel you have no kitchen skills. Some recipes call for using nothing more complicated than a food processor. For example, you can make a chocolate mint fudge-style dessert that’s naturally sweetened with dates. You get to eat healthy with a big smile on your face.
You can try making your version of protein bars. Yours will be better than the store-bought variety because you’ll be able to avoid using any additives and preservatives. You’ll also have greater control over the amount of salt and sugar that goes into a bar. You may never buy the commercially-available protein bars again.
Are You Ready to Shake up Your Protein?
If you’re trying to increase muscle mass, you definitely want to add protein powder to your shopping list. However, if you’re mainly interested in weight loss, you should also get to know the protein powder section of your health food store.
Don’t become overwhelmed at the abundance of choices.
Start by selecting the highest-rated protein powder made of ingredients that work well with your body. With that step, you’ll be one giant step closer to your fitness goal.
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