Good nutritional health requires protein as a key component and protein shakes are now popular as a quick, easy way to supplement your diet. Protein shakes come in a number of varieties, the most common being whey, soy or casein protein, which indicates the source of the protein itself. They can be a good way to balance out your eating habits or lose weight by increasing protein intake and decreasing carbohydrate consumption. You can also benefit from more consistent performance from a slow releasing, high quality form of protein, rather than from sugary energy drinks that give you a temporary, artificial boost from a combination of caffeine and sugar.
What are protein shakes?
Protein shakes deliver high quality, easily digestible protein. Protein provides the body with the components necessary to rebuild bone, muscle, cells and skin tissues. Protein shakes come in a variety of flavors, including strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. They can be purchased in ready mixed chilled cans, or in large containers of protein powder that can be mixed to your own personal preference.
Types of protein shakes
Whey protein is found in about 20% of cow’s milk. Whey is a high grade protein that is quickly and easily absorbed, usually in as little as forty minutes. This makes it the best choice as a post-workout protein source to give you a boost, providing your muscles the protein they need to recover and rebuild.
Casein protein (pronounced kay-seen) is known for its slow distribution of protein and amino acids over seven hours after consumption. The slow distribution means it is not well suited for a post-workout protein source but is excellent if you want to receive a steady energy flow through part of the day.
Soy protein is an alternative protein source for vegetarians and vegans who wish to avoid protein sources derived from animals. It is also good for people who are lactose-intolerant. Soy is known to reduce the release of excess insulin, which can help regulate sugar levels in the bloodstream and reduce good cravings.
Who uses protein shakes?
Shakes are consumed by busy people on the move who wish to add a high-quality protein source in a busy day, instead of relying on sodas that give a temporary “kick”, but wear off when the sugar rush dissipates. If using these drinks as a meal replacement, then a blend of whey protein and casein protein is a good solution because you include both fast and slow releasing energy sources in a single drink.
For people who like to use the gym for heavy workouts, especially where muscles are overly stressed or where lifting weights is part of the workout regime, a post-workout shake can help deliver much needed energy. A fast-releasing protein, like whey, can get to work supporting the muscles that have been pushed hard during an energetic workout program.
For body builders a protein shake high in amino acids drank just before and after a workout can help to reduce the breakdown of muscle (catabolism) while helping to increase the building of new muscle (anabolism). When anabolism exceeds catabolism, the result is a net gain in muscle mass. Whey protein is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream while Casein protein is digested more slowly providing a steady stream of amino acids to the muscles and more thorough absorption. A shake that combines both whey and casein protein offers the best results.
Are there any dangers to using protein shakes?
Research studies have shown the beneficial release of antioxidants and possible reduced risk of cancer from opting for a quality protein powder source. There have been no negative findings from ongoing research into the benefits of protein powders and protein shakes.
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