Do Protein Shakes Really Work?

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

There are a lot of protein shakes out there today, and many of them are marketed at different consumers. While some say that they'll help you lose weight in record time, others claim to help you pack on muscle and bulk up fast. There also plenty of protein shakes that are geared toward athletes who want to improve their performance. With so many different protein shakes out there, it's easy to get confused about which one is right for you, or whether you should be using these shakes at all. Fortunately, we've got all the information you need right here, including what these shakes contain, what they can do for you and what drawbacks they come with. Read this article before deciding on whether or not to add protein shakes to your daily diet.

What's In A Protein Shake?

Every protein shake is going to be a little different. Most protein shakes are powders and come in large cans or single-serving packets. Many also have added flavorings to make them a little more palatable. As far as the contents go, many protein shakes contain a combination of carbohydrates, fats and (of course) protein. The type of protein contained in these shakes may vary. Some contain whey protein, some contain casein protein and some contain both. It's important to check the label of a protein shake carefully before buying it, especially if you have an allergy to one of these kinds of protein.

Keep in mind that while protein shakes often contain a variety of amino acids, they are usually lacking in other nutrients that your body needs. This means that you can't supplement your intake of vitamins, minerals or fiber with a protein shake. It's important that anyone taking protein shakes view them as simply a protein supplement, and not an all-around health supplement that can replace daily vitamins and minerals.

Benefits Of Protein Shakes

Perhaps the most popular use for protein shakes is to help build muscle mass. By simply taking one look at most of the protein supplements at your local health food store or GNC, you'll find that this is certainly the case. However, individuals shouldn't look at protein shakes as the secret to adding on muscle bulk in a fast and easy way. Instead, protein shakes should be utilized very carefully for the purpose of gaining muscle. The best way to do this is to drink a protein shake directly after exercising, preferably within 30 minutes of the conclusion of your workout. This helps your body to recover while also providing the protein needed to fuel your body.

Another reason that people use protein shakes is to help with weight loss. These shakes may be effective for helping people to lose weight, but only when used in moderation. The reason protein shakes can be effective for this is because protein is broken down more slowly by your digestive system, helping you to feel fuller for longer while also providing you with ongoing energy throughout the day. Protein shakes alone cannot replace a person's food intake, but many people find that drinking a protein shake for breakfast or for lunch can help them to cut down on calories without feeling hungry and tired during the day. If you are thinking about utilizing protein shakes to lose weight, then keep in mind that you should also be eating a balanced diet and working out if you want to see real results. Furthermore, pay attention to the caloric content of whichever protein shake you choose to help you lose weight.

Protein shakes also have a few additional uses, which are less common but just as effective. For some people who have trouble getting a sufficient amount of protein in their diet, a protein shake can be an easy way to get them the necessary protein intake. For example, people who have had a stroke or are undergoing chemotherapy, and those who suffer from severe gastrointestinal problems, may have trouble eating sufficient amounts of food every day. In these cases, protein shakes can be a great dietary supplement to ensure that their bodies have enough protein to function properly.

Cons Of Protein Shakes

While protein shakes may be effective in some areas, including adding muscle mass and losing weight, many physicians suggest eating a balanced diet instead in order to get the sufficient amount of protein that you need. For instance, eggs are also a great source of protein, and are much less expensive than most protein shakes. Ask your doctor if using a protein shake is the right thing for your body type, dietary habits and exercise regimen.

Another con of protein shakes is that many people see them as an easy way to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, if protein shakes are not combined with enough exercise and a healthy diet, then they can quickly lead to weight gain rather than weight loss, due to their caloric content. Similarly, simply drinking a protein shake after working out won't magically add muscles to your body. Certain workouts and weightlifting techniques need to be combined with drinking protein shakes in order to receive the desired effects. In these cases, it's best to speak with a nutritionist, personal trainer or physician about how to achieve your muscle mass or weight loss goals with protein shakes.

Finally, remember that consuming too much protein is not healthy. Most adults only need about 46 to 56 grams of protein each day. Exceeding this recommended intake may lead to weight gain or several side effects, such as dehydration, diarrhea and nausea. Be sure to check the labels of your protein shakes and foods carefully to monitor your daily protein intake.

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