The Scoop on Protein Shakes

If you are looking to add more protein to your diet, protein shakes are one of the simplest and quickest ways to do so. They’re easy to prepare, easy to consume and totally portable which makes them an excellent choice for re-fueling after a workout. And, with some packing upwards of 25 grams of protein they can also serve as a healthy and nutritious meal replacement.

The physical benefits of protein shakes are well proven. For example, a study published in a 2010 issue of “Diabetes/Metabolism Research & Review” showed that subjects who used protein shakes as a meal replacement and as part of a reduced-calorie diet lost more weight and body fat than participants who only consumed fewer calories. Also, research shared in a 2001 issue of “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise” showed that men who supplemented their diets with whey protein powder gained more lean muscle and experienced greater performance gains than those who did not.

However, with so many different types of protein shakes and powders, it can be difficult to choose one that’s right for you. Here’s a simple summary of the different protein powders you’ll find if you’re on the market:  

  • Whey Protein: Derived from milk, whey is the preferred source for people looking to increase muscle tone. It contains all nine of the amino acids your body needs to nourish muscle. Studies have proven its effectiveness in helping the body recover from workouts and put on lean muscle. It generally comes in two forms — whey concentrate and whey isolate — with the latter packing more protein punch per serving. However, some people find the lactose in whey protein makes it hard to digest.
  • Casein Protein: Casein is also found in milk, but your body takes longer to digest and absorb it than it does whey. Because of the way casein interacts with the acid in your stomach, it can help you feel full longer. And, its slower absorption releases a longer, steadier stream of amino acids to your muscles.
  • Pea Protein: Made from the yellow split pea, this high fiber protein source has high amounts of all the essential amino acids except for methionine. For obvious reasons it’s especially popular among vegans, vegetarians, and people who are lactose or gluten-intolerant.
  • Soy Protein: Soybeans are another form of plant-based protein that still contain all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Studies have shown that it is comparable to whey protein in improving muscle tone. And, some research indicates the isoflavones present in soy can potentially lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Hemp Protein: In addition to high protein concentration, hemp seeds are considered superfoods because they are high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It is not considered a complete protein however, due to its low levels of lysine and leucine. It is easily digestible though, making it another great option for those with gastrointestinal sensitivities.
  • Brown Rice Protein: Also 100% plant-based, brown rice protein is comparable in its muscle building properties to whey despite being low in lysine. Like pea and hemp, it is also gluten-free and easily digestible for most.
  • Vegan Protein Blends: These blends combine the nutrients and benefits of hemp, peas, rice, quinoa, chia, flax and more. This gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free option can hold its own against whey and other animal-based proteins while still being easy for your body to digest and process.

Keep in mind, just adding a protein shake to your nutritional repertoire will not give you the physical results you’re looking for. As always, it takes a combination of good nutrition, strength training and cardiovascular exercise to achieve a healthy and lean physique. But, in combination with healthy eating and regular exercise, protein shakes are an effective tool for building a healthier you.  

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake

This delectable shake tastes like dessert with none of the sugar, fat or guilt!

  • 2-3 large ice cubes
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
  • I banana
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • optional 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
  • toppings: homemade whipping cream, vegan whipped topping, or Greek yogurt

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

PB&J Protein Shake

This delicious and filling shake makes a great meal replacement for breakfast. 

  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon all natural peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1 cup non-dairy beverage of choice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

(Original recipes from Fit Foodie Finds.)

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