I get asked about protein shakes quite a lot.
Obviously for a lot of people they are quite new and unknown.
1) You do not need protein shakes.
You can get plenty of protein from food.
If you are looking to increase muscle and/or lose weight, you can still get enough protein from food.
You may need to think about it a bit more and focus on good sources of lean protein;
But, if you do not want to use shakes you do not need to.
2) Protein from a shake is not ‘worse for you’.
Protein powder, particularly whey protein, is a very good source of protein as it has a complete chain of amino acids.
It is a natural food product with flavourings and sweeteners to make it taste nice.
It is also very fast acting.
A slower acting option would be casein.
This can be great as a meal replacement as it is more satisfying.
A lot of people like to use this before bed, to ‘feed’ their muscles through the night.
3) Options are available for the lactose intolerant and the vegan.
Vegan blends are created from a variety of plant proteins in order to provide a good chain of amino acids.
Whey isolate powders can be fine for some people who are lactose intolerant as it has less dairy in it.
4) There is no need to take a protein shake immediately after a workout.
There is some research that shows that taking a portion of protein within one hour of a workout can promote better muscle protein synthesis and recovery.
If you are training regularly and you are not having a meal shortly after a session, then a shake can help you recover and maximise your gain.
One thing to note is that dairy and sweeteners can cause bloating in some people.
Especially if you are someone who has given up dairy for some time and then you start using whey protein.
Your body produces lactase to digest lactose and it is very much a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario.
So do not be put off too soon, you may have a little bloating at the start but it should settle down.
Protein shakes then, are not necessary but they can be a very efficient, quick and easy way of increasing your protein intake.