Should you be including a protein shake? What to look for when buying a shake.
I know there is a lot of confusion out there about shakes. Our chemist and supermarket shelves are loaded with them, promoting the latest fat blasting shakes, all of them promising to help you lose fat fast!
I just want to clarify what these shakes are all about and let you know the pros and cons.
Ok, first up, the type of shake, brand and its ingredients all have a HUGE impact of whether it’s of any benefit. Just take a look at a few of the brands out there and CHECK OUT THE SUGAR!!! The table below shows per 100g but if it’s got 52.8g of sugar, it’s 52% sugar. WOW! Most of the shakes below which are supermarket or Multi Level Marketing promoted shakes (Isagenix, Herbalife) are over 10g of sugar per serve. Not a great choice.
The shake I use has the following per 40g serve: Evolve WPI
I’ll explain below how to pick a good shake but first let’s talk about the benefits of including a protein shake.
Pros of including a protein shake
- It can help you increase the amount of protein in your diet as some people struggle to eat the recommended dietary requirements.
- We need protein to help build and repair tissues important for muscle growth.
- Eating protein at each meal helps to keep our metabolism going, energy up and blood sugar levels stable.
- Many people struggle to eat a good breakfast. Including a good quality shake can help to start your day off well.
- Including protein at regular meals helps to keep the blood sugar levels stable and stop the blood sugar spikes.
- Eating a diet higher in protein based foods is likely to result in preventing weight gain. Eating protein based foods makes us feel fuller for longer as it takes our body longer to digest than fast-acting, refined carbohydrates.
- Including a protein shake immediately post weight training can add quality protein back into your body, helping your muscles to repair, recover and grow.
Eating too little protein can cause some of these symptoms:
- Sluggish metabolism
- Trouble losing weight
- Trouble building muscle mass
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Moodiness and mood swings
- Muscle, bone and joint pain
- Blood Sugar changes that can lead to diabetes
The cons of using a protein shake –
- Some shakes are LOADED with sugar and processed carbohydrates, making it as good as a chocolate milkshake.
- Some people will consume the shakes on top of their usual meals, resulting in excess calorie consumption and weight gain.
- People who follow a “Shake Diet” don’t learn how to replace a shake with good quality food.
- Some are really expensive! (think Multi-Level Marketing companies)
- Relying on shakes can result in a lack of fibre if you’re not including a good mix of unprocessed food as well.
What to look for when including a protein shake –
First up you should be looking at the ingredient list. If there are heaps of names of things you don’t understand, put it back! You want it to be clean and simple. Here is the label of one of my favorites and as you can see, it only has 4 ingredients.
Next step is to look at the nutritional information.
Key things to look for:
How much protein – you want over 20g per serve
Fat – Under 5g, some will be as low as 0.5
Carbohydrates/Sugar – Under 5g per serve, the less the better.
Some “meal replacement” shakes are loaded with sugar/carbs. Instead of opting for a meal replacement, you are better choosing a good quality, low carbohydrate shake and adding some real food to turn it into a meal. To turn a shake into a meal, I add some frozen blueberries, unsweetened coconut or almond milk and even some oats post workout. There are heaps of smoothie recipes out there. The key is to start with a GOOD BASE. Good quality shake and then add your own carbs. The only time I recommend a high carb shake is for someone trying to gain weight and build some serious muscle who is struggling to get the calories in via food.
The best form of protein is going to be – Whey Protein Isolate. If you can’t consume Whey, then Pea or Soy are other options.
Personally, I include Protein Shakes in my regular diet as I find it a fantastic way to get in a meal containing good quality protein on the go. Plus it makes some awesome sweet treats.
This is how I include Protein shakes into my diet.
Breakfast on the go –
Evolve Supernatural Vanilla blended with frozen blueberries and unsweetened coconut milk
Oats (made with water into porridge), let cool slightly and add 1 serve of Evolve Chocolate WPI
Both super quick and easy. I used to take the oats & protein with me all around the world when I was a flight attendant and could make it in a Tupperware container with some hot water!
Snacks – Shake with water if out and about, will throw a sachet in my handbag. Shake with coconut milk and ½ Banana or Blueberries
Sweet Treats – After dinner I mix 100g of Natural Yoghurt with ½ Serve of Evolve Chocolate WPI
Peanut Butter Protein Balls – See recipe here. Super yummy but have to be careful not to eat too many!
So as you can see there is nothing wrong with including some shakes into your diet but the key is to choose the RIGHT KIND and balance it out with other meals containing lots of good quality protein, unprocessed carbohydrates, fibrous vegetables, fruit and good fats.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!