Protein shakes have become a go-to for many athletes and fitness enthusiasts. With their increasing consumption, the question of whether they can replace actual protein sources arises. It becomes essential to understand both protein shakes and protein-rich foods’ benefits to understand what works the best for you.
The need for protein in your body
Our body requires protein for muscle building and to reduce fat while maintaining muscle tissues. Protein also balances our body’s hormone levels, increases metabolism and improves cardiovascular health. On average, a person needs around 46 and 56 grams of protein per day. Taking that figure into consideration, consuming around two eggs for breakfast and having animal fat such as chicken, red meat such as beef can complete your daily requirements. Vegetarians can also meet the same conditions with protein sources such as nuts, lentils, seeds, sea vegetables, quinoa and soy.
Advantages of Protein Shakes
Protein shakes come in various forms and usually contain whey, soy, casein protein, or vegan protein sources like pea protein or brown rice.
However, whey is the most commonly used protein source as it is a water-soluble milk protein and is rich in protein and contains less fat. It is a complete protein as it contains all nine amino acids required by the human body. Protein shakes are well tolerated and easily digested by the human body. For athletes looking for additional protein to support muscles after workouts, protein shakes are the easiest and quickest to get that boost.
The elderly can also use it to supplement their diets as most of them might have trouble getting enough nutrition due to poor appetites.
Problems with Protein Shakes
Most of the protein shakes available in the markets contain artificial sweeteners, added chemicals, colouring, preservatives and chemicals. Studies show that excessive consumption of protein shakes can lead to increased arsenic levels, cadmium, lead, and mercury in one’s body; overdosing on these contaminants is highly harmful to one’s health. It is also important to note that affording these shakes are difficult for many, and whole protein food can cost you much cheaper. Unlike whole foods, protein shakes don’t usually contain the other nutrients that come with protein sources, such as B vitamins, iron and essential fatty acids. Hence you might miss out on other nutrients.
Which one should you choose?
Choosing to add protein supplements to your diet is entirely based on your lifestyle. If you are looking to maintain a simple, balanced diet, consuming a healthy amount of whole protein foods can be enough to supplement your daily nutritional requirements. However, if you are a fitness enthusiast looking to increase your protein intake, it all boils down to finding a balance. Adding in a couple of whey protein shakes and natural protein sources can get you the calories you need without force-feeding yourself. It will also maximize convenience, allowing you to use whey protein in place of eating. Limit your use of protein powders when you feel your body needs a quick and fast protein supply like post-workout and stick to foods high in protein throughout the day.