Protein Shake FAQ

Protein shakes can help your recovery after a gym session.

Protein shakes can help your recovery after a gym session.

If you're thinking about introducing protein shakes into your diet, you probably have lots of questions that all need answering. Many myths and misconceptions surround protein shakes -- and supplements in general -- so it's good to put your concerns to bed and find out the truth about protein supplements. First things first though -- always check with your doctor before introducing any supplements into your regime.

Will Protein Shakes Give Me Big Muscles?

In a word, no. The amino acids that make up a protein molecule are the building blocks of muscle, so you could be forgiven for thinking that drinking shakes will result in big, bulging muscles. The truth is a little different. Protein shakes alone won't make women get big muscles, notes dietician Pete Galigher. They will help repair muscle tissue after a workout, but won't necessarily make you bigger. Women can build muscle, but tend to gain at only around half the rate of men, adds trainer JC Deen. This is due to your lower testosterone levels.

Will Protein Shakes Make Me Lose Weight?

Eating more protein can aid in losing weight. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, it takes longer for you to digest protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer and means you're less likely to consume extra calories throughout the day. Protein shakes can make a handy snack between meals and prevent you from snacking on sugar- or fat-laden foods instead. Be careful though -- some shakes can come with added calories, usually in the form of sugar, so keep an eye on the ingredients. Also, consuming a protein shake on top of your normal diet will simply mean you're consuming more calories, which can lead to weight gain.

Are Protein Shakes Healthy?

All protein shakes require a degree of processing, so if you're trying to eat completely naturally, you're better off getting protein from foods such as chicken, beef, beans or fish than a shake. Some protein brands are better than others though, notes nutritionist Dr. Mike Roussell. Some shakes contain more than 30 ingredients, including many additives, sweeteners, thickening agents and preservatives. Look for a powder containing just protein, along with small amounts of lecithin and digestive aids, such as lactase, advises Roussell.

What Are The Best Types?

No powder is necessarily better than any other -- the best one for you comes down to your dietary needs and preferences. Milk protein shakes such as whey and casein are no good if you have a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy. Hemp, pea, soy and rice protein are better choices for vegetarians, while cranberry and artichoke proteins are also plant-based. Don't be duped into buying woman-specific shakes, warns Charlotte Andersen of "Shape" magazine -- they're more expensive but no different nutritionally to the shakes targeted to men. Rotate your protein powder every two to four weeks to avoid developing an intolerance, advises Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition.

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About the Author

Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.

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