As gyms are due to reopen after their third lockdown, we ask, do we really need to be drinking protein shakes?
If you have ever entered in a gym you will have seen someone drinking their ‘shake’. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, big, small, protein shakes have become big business. Recent figures(pre-lockdown) suggest that 1 in 4 of us have consumed a protein nutrition product over the last three months and that figure is predicted to carry on growing.
Protein shakes are heavily marketed, often by well-known figures in the fitness industry but there continues to be discussion about whether they are good for you and indeed if they work.
Firstly, lets address how they work. Protein shakes provide extra protein to help muscles recover and grow after exercise, and also help to reduce muscle wastage through weight loss or ageing. They are also convenient for those people who are on their weight loss journey, as they can help people to feel fuller for longer.
### Are they safe?
Protein shakes are very safe but if you have allergies you need to pay attention to what is listed in their ingredients. Shakes can contain cow’s milk, soy protein and eggs which could cause allergic reactions. If you suffer from kidney disease you may also want to closely monitor your protein intake as too much can place a strain on your kidneys and worsen your condition. However, for the average person who is in good health, there are no issues with consuming protein shakes as directed by the manufacturer.
One factor that can be overlooked however, is that protein shakes contain calories. If these additional calories are not accounted for or are not needed, then they could lead to weight gain. If you are consuming more calories than you burn off, you will gain weight. If you want to put on weight and ‘bulk up’, this would not be an issue.
When to drink your shake is a matter of personal choice. Historically it was thought that immediately after your workout was the most effective time, but recent research has shown that it can have a positive impact when consumed up to 24 hours later.
However, protein shakes are not essential. If you eat a well-balanced diet, that will provide you with more than enough protein. However, if you feel that you could be deficient or indeed find a shake more convenient, then they can help ensure that you benefit from adequate protein.