Protein Shakes are liquid food supplements that are composed of ingredients high in protein and some carbohydrates. Most types sold in the market contain high amounts of whey or other proteins derived from milk such as casein. Each serving may contain as much as 10 to 22 grams (.35 .78 ounces) of such nutrients.
Such supplements come in powder form and can be water-based or milk-based. That is, the drink can be prepared by either mixing the powder with water or a particular type of milk like soya milk. There are varieties that are available pre-mixed or ready-to-drink. Typical of these kinds of products are sold in a variety of flavors, the most popular of which are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana, or simply offered without flavoring.
How They Work
When milk is processed into cheese, the liquid that remains is called whey. From this byproduct the whey protein is isolated. A study was published in the Nutrition journal that focused on the health benefits of this type of protein. According to this research, whey protein is a rich and viable source of what are known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). This substance is the essential fuel that allows muscles to work. It is also the basic protein building block that enables faster muscle recovery and adaptation to stress. Protein shakes therefore contain the very stuff that directly fuels the muscles and helps it heal and grow more tissue fibers to increase one’s ability to perform strenuous workouts.
Dosage and use instructions on the packaging of these products say to prepare only enough based on body weight (usually 1-2 grams per pound). It also directs that the shake be taken around 30 minutes after the workout. It is not uncommon practice for some however to imbibe the supplement before a session. Usually this is in the context of replacing a meal.
Why they're important
It is not surprising then that protein shakes are often targeted to endurance and strength athletes, and people who generally have a very active exercise regimen. A significant increase in physical activity naturally leads to greater energy expenditure and demand. Protein shake supplements essentially provide the much needed fuel for the above-average energy needs of such physically active individuals.
It is an often preferred source of extra calories because it is convenient to prepare and provides the boost without the extra weight of an actual full meal. Other arguments for its benefit state that it may not always be easy to find normal food that has the required amounts of protein needed for a very active exercise regimen. Vegetarians for example voluntarily avoid animal sources of food, which are known to be high in protein.
As beneficial as protein shakes are, there is still the risk of it being misused. According to a report by the Mayo Clinic, some people use protein shakes as a way to diet and lose weight. There is a finding contained in that report which states such supplements tend to reduce the feeling of hunger. Although satiety may lessen frequency of eating, that doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Losing body weight is still primarily a result of expending more calories than consumed. Since protein shakes provide extra calories, if the additional fuel isn’t actually used up in exercise then one may actually risk the opposite effect of putting on more weight.
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