Protein shakes are awesome!
As I sat down to write about protein shakes and protein intake, I thought to myself what do I know about protein shakes, and what can I offer to someone that has never used them? Are meal replacement shakes good for you? How much protein should you have daily? These are the kinds of questions I get, and that I’ll be answering in this post.
Yes, meal replacement shakes are good for you because they can increase your protein intake, provide feelings of satiety, suppress cravings for sugary snacks, and are simple and easy to make.
As someone who has used protein shakes for over a decade I realized I know a substantial amount about protein shakes. I’ve tried different kinds, different flavors, I use them for different reasons, and I know what they should and shouldn’t be used for.
In this post, I’m going to share a wide variety of information on protein shakes.
To start, I think we should address the safety of these protein shakes.
Table of Contents
Risks of Protein Shakes
Protein shakes have been around for years. While a majority of them are not regulated by the FDA, I feel like protein shakes are at the very bottom of the list when it comes to potential concerns regarding the unregulated products.
Research has been going on for years to determine the advantages and disadvantages of protein shake consumption. And I’m sure if you look hard enough you could probably find some disadvantages or concerns with using protein shakes.
The other 99% of the time, studies show that protein shakes are good for you if used correctly, have little to no side-effects, and overall are a suitable product for consumption. If you can find a study that says protein shakes should not be consumed, they probably also have a study about how smoking is good for you. Really, look it up. You’ll find studies that show smoking is good for reducing anxiety, stress, and good for weight loss. All of which is true, but not the aspects you should be focusing on. But I’m getting off track here.
The other thing you need to consider when choosing a protein shake is the contents. Some protein shakes use large quantities of sugar or sweetener to improve flavor, which can trigger blood sugar spikes.
Be sure to select a protein that is low in sugar and doesn’t contain a bunch of artificial sweeteners. The Bulk Supplements protein I prefer has 0 grams of sugar. While the FDA doesn’t typically regulate these, I would suggest sticking with a big name brand that does some level of testing. I personally feel like some of the smaller, cheaper brands are more likely to do whatever they can to produce a product for as low a cost as possible. That raises a red flag in my head, and I would recommend you be aware of this potential too.
So that being said, I think we’ve covered the safety of protein shakes enough.
Will Protein Shakes Help With Weight Loss?
Most people think of adding muscle and bulking up when it comes to drinking protein shakes. While this is tue, protein shakes can actually help with weight loss too.
Protein is great for making you feel full. It takes longer to digest, which gives you that feeling of being satiated. And if you feel full you’re less likely to eat more. Some even suggest drinking a protein shake before a meal, to help with reducing calorie intake.
The fewer calories you’re consuming, the more likely you’ll lose weight.
This is particularly true if you’re combing them with daily exercise (Does Working Out At Home Really Work) Your results from any kind of exercise routine from bodyweight exercise (Bodyweight Burn Review) to full-on muscle mass building exercise will benefit when combined with protein shakes
Will Protein Shakes Help Build Muscle?
Yes, protein shakes will help build muscle. Protein is the building block of muscle. If you’re not consuming protein, you’ll feel fatigued, lose muscle mass, and could make your bones weaker too.
If you follow the typical diet of some popular or elite trainers, you’ll see that they are consuming protein with every meal, and usually with every snack. It can be hard to consume the daily amount of protein needed to grow or sustain muscle.
Between rushing off in the morning, eating a quick meal for lunch, can leave little available time for proper meal prep. Cooking egg whites and turkey bacon in the morning can take time, and salmon with sweet potatoes for lunch just isn’t all that easy. It might be a very reasonable breakfast and lunch, but this is the real world.
And real people are busy.
Protein shakes can be made in 30 seconds. Enough said!
You don’t want to get a majority of your daily protein from shakes, but a protein shake or two (rarely) every day is a great way to get a quick and easy 25 grams of protein. I make one every morning and take it with me for a 10 am snack.
Finding The Right Protein For You
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’ve tried several kinds of protein. Some of the egg-based protein powders just didn’t sit well with me. If you’ve never tried protein powders they can give you some digestive problems. Some people can digest protein with no problem, while others can get bloating, flatulence, or even diarrhea. I’m just trying to be upfront here.
I wouldn’t recommend purchasing any big tubs of protein powder until you find one that doesn’t give you stomach issues and one that tastes good to you. Which brings me to the second part.
Virtually all protein powders are flavored. If you don’t like the taste of it, you won’t drink it, and it will be a waste of money. Try different flavors and see which one you like.
What To Mix Your Protein With
I would say 99% of the time I use milk. I think I was in a pinch one time and used water. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, but these days, I keep an eye on my milk in the fridge to ensure I have enough for my weekly protein shakes. If you’re not a dairy drinker, lots of people mix theirs into almond milk, smoothies, or juice blends.
Again keep this in mind when you’re choosing a flavor. You might end up mixing some flavors that just don’t naturally go together. You’ll also find that some protein powders just don’t mix well. I recommend using a blender for about 15 seconds.
This seems to help avoid any clumping that might occur with those powders that don’t mix well. If you find yourself just using a spoon or blender bottle, you’ll likely be drinking clumpy protein shakes.
How Much Protein Should You Have Daily?
I really don’t like this question because the recommendation can vary significantly. And by significantly, I mean 2-3x. Some experts suggest .36 grams per pound, while others (especially those looking to build muscle) suggest 1.5 – 2x per pound.
This means if you weigh 150 lbs, you should consume anywhere between 54 grams and 300 grams of protein each day. I think you need to find out what your goals are and see what works for you. I try to consume about 1-1.25 per pound.
But I don’t have issues digesting protein, I work out 5-6 times a week and sometimes I do fasted cardio in the morning and resistance training in the evening. In general, women don’t need to consume as much protein as men, but again this differs from person to person.
Should I Use Protein Shakes For Meal Replacement?
I don’t think I’ve ever used a protein shake as a meal replacement. I drink them as snacks for the most part. Your primary source of protein needs to come from natural foods like chicken, turkey (lean meats), quinoa, legumes, eggs, and fruits and vegetables. This isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list, but the point here is to eat natural foods. One ingredient foods are the way to go. The protein shakes should be used as a supplement to these foods.
How Many Meal Replacement Shakes Per Day?
As I mentioned above, I don’t use them as a meal replacement but more as a way to add protein to my diet. I don’t believe I’ve ever had more than 2 in a day. The answer to this question can vary from person to person. Some people might only need one meal replacement shake per day, while others might need to use nutritional shakes more or less often depending on their dietary needs, calorie requirements, fitness goals, and other factors.
If all else fails, I would pay attention to the recommendations of the specific shake you’re consuming.
When is The Best Time to Use a Protein Shake?
Replacement shakes are easy, convenient, and quick. This makes them tempting to drink frequently and often. But really, the best time to use them will depend on the person. They’re packed with protein and nutrition so in the morning makes them a great time to drink one down.
Additionally, if you’re in a hurry at work and don’t want to be tempted by a fast-food joint on the corner, making one in the morning, storing it in a refrigerator, for a quick lunch can be ideal too. Before or after a workout is another time a shake can be consumed. They are great for recovery, and the protein helps build muscle.
Finally, if you have a tough time making it from meal to meal, a protein shake makes a great snack. They taste great, and the protein will keep you feeling full until the next meal.
The only time, I wouldn’t use one unless necessary would be a dinner replacement. I feel like dinner should contain a full plate of lean protein, plenty of vegetables, and a slow-digesting carbohydrate like brown rice or quinoa.
Conclusion of Meal Replacement Shakes
When you’re first starting out, try little samples or containers until you find one that tastes good and is easily digestible. Use them as a tool to help get an extra 25-50 grams of protein into your daily intake. Buy in bulk once you’ve found one suitable for your needs. The shelf-life of protein shakes is usually about 2 years, so it’s wise to go big.
What is your favorite protein shake? Leave a comment below.