Protein shakes are one of the mainstays of health supplements. Active adults, serious athletes, and bodybuilders have relied on protein shakes for decades. There is a general belief that protein shakes help build muscles, help you lose weight, and help with recovery from workouts.
Protein shakes have more benefits than bulking up muscle for athletes. Protein shakes are indeed a favorite of bodybuilders and people who do serious weight training. But protein shakes also make a convenient and easy protein boost for breakfast that can stay with you and cut down your cravings for snacks. Protein shakes fill you up and reduce your hunger for snacks.
At a baseline level, a healthy diet can provide all the protein you require to maintain your health. However, people are now engaged in activities that demand much higher levels of protein. Protein shakes can make up the difference. Something as simple as consuming a pre or post-workout protein shake and seriously up your game with workouts and muscle gains.
Protein shakes also provide the amino acids and free proteins necessary to repair muscle following the high-intensity training of competitive athletes. Performing at top levels requires far more protein that a basic healthy diet and protein shakes provide the nutrients athletes need. This extends to recovering from high-intensity training and the sore muscles that come with it.
What is more, so many people are extremely active and need the added boost a protein shake can provide. Even the daily workouts of those who go to the gym for general fitness can run some high demands for protein supplements.
Protein shakes can also help you lose weight. If you are getting involved in a weight loss program, protein shakes make for a healthy breakfast that can fight your cravings for junk snacks. Even drinking a protein shake for a late-night snack can have lasting benefits for weight loss.
This guide will help you sort through the many benefits of protein shakes. We will also give the information on how to take protein shakes for the type of exercise and training you are doing.
What are Protein Shakes?
The basic protein shake is just protein powder mixed with water or milk. However, there has been some real progress from this basic formula. Protein shakes now come in a variety of flavors and with a wide variety of active ingredients that can be tailored to your needs.
High-end gyms sell protein shakes that are made with yogurt and fruit and blended into a smoothie. Some of these may contain high levels of sugar, so be advised if you are not making your own protein shakes.
With the increasing awareness of protein shakes, there are protein shakes that are now available in supermarkets. Some of these are sound protein supplements. The main thing to be aware of is that many of these mass-produced protein shakes contain fillers and sweeteners that are counterproductive.
Essentially, a protein shake consists of some type of protein powder, a rich concentrate or isolate of protein made from dairy or from a vegetable-derived protein such as soy or hemp, that is mixed with something else to make it palatable.
The type of protein you choose is ultimately up to you. Whey protein, casein protein, and vegetable protein powders can contain all the proteins and amino acids you need to achieve your goals. You just need to pay attention to product labels to make sure you are getting all the essential amino acids, especially BCAAs that build muscle, and complete proteins.
Types Of Protein Shakes
There are so many brands of protein shakes on the market that there is simply no way to keep track of them all. What we can tell you is that protein shakes come down to four basic types. Each has its advantages, and you should have no trouble deciding which one will work best for you.
What you should look for are added ingredients like sweeteners that you may not want in a nutrition supplement. These four protein shakes are recommended for building muscle, for post-workout recovery, and weight loss.
The four basic types of protein shake:
- Whey Shakes: Whey is a by-product of cheese production. Whey is a dairy product. One of the distinct advantages of whey protein shakes is that your body can easily and efficiently absorb the protein. Whey provides an accessible form of protein. It is useful for building and preserving lean muscle. It is good for controlling hunger and reducing blood sugar. One study even showed that whey protein shakes can help lower blood pressure.
- Casein Shakes: Casein is also a dairy derivative. Casein digests slowly and maybe a better supplement for endurance training than for strength training. Casein tends to continue providing protein to build muscle even long after you consume it and long after your actual workout. Casein shakes are also especially good for a meal replacement as part of a weight-loss plan. Because casein digests slowly, it tends to fill you up and leave you feeling full.
- Soy Protein Shakes: Soy is a plant-based protein, and it is probably the most widely available of the plant-based protein powders and shakes. Soy Protein shakes are great for vegetarians and vegans. They are also ideal for people with lactose intolerance. Recent research has shown that soy protein supplements provide the same benefits as other protein supplements in a side by side comparison. What matters is that you get the full dose of essential amino acids and free proteins. The source is not as critical.
- Vegan Protein Shakes: There are other protein shakes made from completely vegan sources. These include pea, brown rice, and hemp proteins. Pea protein, for example, is extracted from yellow peas and contains all the essential amino acids necessary for building muscle. Vegan and plant-based proteins contain the BCAAs that make protein shakes effective. These plant-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are just as effective as proteins derived from dairy.
Protein Shakes Benefits
Within the world of gym-culture, the benefits of protein shakes are widely known. If you are new to protein shakes you may be surprised at the number of benefits and the diversity of benefits to protein shakes. Protein shakes are not just for weightlifters and bodybuilders.
Protein shakes can be an ideal supplement for general fitness programs. They can help you lose weight and turn that weight into lean muscle. Protein shakes also make a fine nutritional supplement for all-around fitness.
With so many benefits from protein shakes, we thought we should break these down into categories:
Protein Shakes For Recovery
We all know protein supplements are great for helping you with a workout. The added protein and amino acids provide the nutrition you require for intense training. Protein shakes are obviously one of the best sources as a protein supplement. But even more than a pre-workout supplement, protein shakes are ideal for recovery post-workout.
Protein shakes contain leucine and other branched-chain amino acids that are immediately accessible for muscle protein synthesis. Muscle tissue gets broken down during workouts. Protein shakes provide BCAAs and available protein so that your body can repair the broken-down muscle tissue and build new muscle.
Protein shakes enhance the process of anabolism: the building of muscle tissue. One of the distinct advantages of protein shakes for recovery is this anabolic process. Protein shakes effectively continue building muscle during recovery.
Another study demonstrated that protein shakes assist in overnight recovery post-exercise. The process of rebuilding muscle tissue continues long after your workout. A good protein shake will effectively "feed" your muscles to continue the muscle regeneration well after the actual workout. Protein shakes continue repairing muscle tissue while you sleep.
Protein Shakes For Muscle Growth
In addition to recovery, protein shakes offer all the BCAAs necessary to build lean muscle. Protein shakes help improve the muscle-to-fat ratio, leaving you with more lean muscle and less fat. The anabolic benefits described above are a part of this process of building muscle.
As a pre-workout supplement, protein shakes provide leucine and other readily accessible amino acids so that your muscles are primed with everything required for muscle synthesis. The same processes that go into the post-workout anabolic benefits are at work building muscle during a workout.
The double benefit of protein shakes is that they facilitate muscle growth during a workout, and, as a post-workout supplement, protein shakes proved the nutrients to repair muscle for recovery.
Beyond the muscle you gain from working out, protein shakes can help build muscles for older adults. One study showed that protein shakes can help build muscle and reduce the loss of skeletal muscle in older men. The loss of muscle that can come with aging may be resisted with the help of protein shakes.
Protein Shakes to Lose weight
One of the most problematic ways of snacking is eating late in the day. Rather than filling up on junkie snacks that are packed with carbs and fats, a protein shake makes a healthy alternative. Protein shakes make an excellent late-night snack and will fill you up far more than fats and carbs. Protein boosts simply make you feel fuller and keep you feeling full longer than anything else. And you will reduce the amount of fat and carbs you consume.
Second, protein shakes suppress your appetite. Proteins enhance the production of hormones that make you feel less hungry. The benefits of protein shakes for losing weight are chemical as much as they are physical. What is more, the protein in these shakes increases your metabolism. One recent study found that protein shakes before bed can enhance your resting metabolic rate. This means that you are burning calories even as you sleep.
Protein Shakes For Energy
We are used to thinking of carbs as the main source of energy. Breaking down those complex sugars, we are told, infuses us with bursts of energy. This is true, but the energy bursts from carbohydrates are short-term. A more long-lasting energy source may be proteins.
Protein shakes offer a complex of amino acids. As these amino acids are metabolized, they slow down the breakdown of carbohydrates allowing them to slowly move into your system. The result is more stamina for longer bursts of energy.
For the long-haul, protein shakes can provide a supplement that offers a more efficient energy boost.
One of the best things about protein shakes is that they are just easy. What could be more convenient than enjoying a shake either pre or post-workout? You can mix protein powders with almost anything that suits your taste. From yogurt smoothies to simple fruit shakes, protein shakes are simple.
For serious athletes, people who train hard for competitive sports, protein shakes help build muscle and assists in post-workout recovery by repairing muscle tissue. Protein shakes continue to help your body synthesize proteins for muscle development long after your workout and even while you sleep.
Protein shakes can offer the long-distance energy and strength necessary for endurance athletes. Stamina and energy can get a sustaining boost from protein shakes.
We also see that protein shakes have therapeutic benefits. They reduce muscle loss as we age and help build healthy, lean muscle. This holds off some of the effects of aging that tend to slow us down.
Finally, protein shakes can help you lose weight. If you want to shed a few pounds and start getting into shape, protein shakes help manage your appetite and help you feel more satisfied with the healthy foods you do eat. Protein shakes also help burn calories even when you are not active.
NF Sports has a Natural Amino Post-Workout Recovery Mix that provides all the benefits described above. This packs a full dose of the main BCAAs for muscle soreness and post-workout recovery and anabolic protein synthesis.
A sound protein shake can provide benefits for nearly everyone. From the committed athlete to those of us who want to shed a few pounds and get fit, protein shakes can help.