Just like all other foods, protein shakes get quite the debate on whether they are healthy or not, and whether we should or should not use them. Here is a quick breakdown about protein shakes and some insights on why you may or may not want to use them. Check it out and then decide for yourself.
What are protein powders?
Protein powders are dietary supplements that contain higher amounts of protein. Some contain a mix a carbohydrates and small amounts of fat, but still have a moderate to high source of protein.
Why would I want to use them?
Protein powders can be an easy way to add extra protein to your diet, are highly convenient and can be a good way to balance a smoothie/shake to be a meal or snack. A smoothie made with a liquid and fruit will not help with satiety as much it would if there was additional protein added.
You can also take them anywhere without worrying about them having to spoil. For example, when you are on the run, it is easier to drink a quick shake then break out a chicken breast.
Soy, hemp, rice, egg, whey? What’s the difference?
Precision Nutrition gives you the best quick breakdown of the different types of powders below. I took the following breakdown from their website and be sure to check it out as they have tons of great resources!
Rice protein – Hypo-allergenic, gluten-free, neutral taste, economical. 100% plant-based. May be derived from genetically modified rice.
Egg protein – Fat-free, concentrated amounts of essential amino acids. May upset stomach.
Milk protein (includes whey, casein, calcium caseinate, and milk protein blends) – May enhance immunity, high in BCAAs, contains lactose, highly studied. May cause digestive upset or other symptoms in people sensitive to whey, casein, and/or lactose.
Pea protein – No saturated fat or cholesterol, highly digestible, hypo-allergenic, economical. Rich in lysine, arginine and glutamine. 100% plant-based.
Hemp protein – Provides omega-3 fats, most forms provide fibre, free of trypsin inhibitors, can get in raw form, high in arginine and histidine. 100% plant-based.
Soy protein – May have benefits for cardiovascular disease, contains some anti-nutrients, may be derived from genetically modified soy. 100% plant-based.
Why would I choose one over the other?
As you can see, some of the proteins are 100% plant based which may make your decision based on food preferences. Some protein powders can also be more difficult on the stomach and harder to digest.
Some protein powders may be used as a meal replacement, as they typically have a little more fat and more carbs.
Some protein powders may be used to get additional protein in strictly, while some have carbohydrates which may be a better choice post workout as you want to get in a balance of protein and carbs.
But protein powders are not real food?
Protein powders are not whole food, though they are derived from whole food sources. There is often a great debate that powders are loaded with chemicals and additives, are completely unhealthily and not “real food.” The thing is “real food” can be different from one person to the next.
Here is my .02.
There are many things that could potentially be unhealthy from certain foods, additives, or drinking from plastic bottles. When it comes to protein powder, decide if you like it and if your body reacts well to it. I find protein powder to be a great quick post workout meal. Liquid post workout is often recommended to get into your system quicker.
However, you will not find me with a protein shaker as I always have to use a blender and add fruit, almond milk and lots of ice. I whip up this tasty treat that to me, tastes like a chocolate milkshake.
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder ( I use Shakeology, Dynamtize or VegaSport depending on what I have around)
8-10 oz of almond milk
Handful of frozen cherries
1 Tbsp of cocoa powder & 1 tbsp of PB2
Lots of ice.
Blend for a minute and eat with a spoon.
Like everything else, decide if protein powder FITs your eating and fitness philosophy .