Protein shakes get a bad rap too often. They’re usually associated with those chalky, clumped up, and horrible tasting monstrosities from over a decade ago. The truth is, protein powder today mixes easily, comes in a number of delicious flavors, and with all of the recipes out there it’s easy to find some protein shakes you’ll love. This is great news if you haven’t been taking advantage of the benefits that protein shakes can provide.
1. You Can Hit Your Protein Goal for the Day
Protein is essential for life. Every structure in your body is built, at least in part, from proteins. Literally,your entire body is protein (and fats).The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 gm/kg body weight. That means, for most people, getting a single protein shake a day of 30-50 grams will make it very easy for most people to achieve or even surpass their RDA. This is especially true for some vegetarians who may not be consuming very many high protein foods and have trouble consistently getting enough protein.
2. You Can Boost Your Immune System
“Whey and its components are involved in different bio-logical functions including antioxidant activity, anticarcino-genic effects, immunomodulation, passive immunity, disease protection, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral effects, binding of toxins, promotion of cell growth, platelet binding, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive actions.”- A. Suha Yalcin
In short, drink a whey protein shake regularly and your chances of getting that cold that’s been going around the office, decreases.
3. You’ll Get the Most from Your Weight Training
If you’re lifting weights, and you should be, you’re working hard to build muscle and a whey protein shake can help maximize your effort. Intense training leads to muscle damage and a big part of optimizing your results from weight training is providing the body with the building blocks it needs to rebuild and grow new muscle. That primary building block of muscle? Protein.
For those who are weight training optimal protein intake is around 1 gram per pound of body weight. That means a 175 pound man who lifts weights regularly (3-5) times a week should be consuming around 175 grams of protein a day to help support muscle recovery and growth. This sounds like an impossible task to many people until they realize that simply consuming 1-2 protein shakes per day can make getting one gram of protein per pound of body weight very, very, easy.
While some will claim this amount of protein is dangerous, don’t worry, in healthy people those claims are completely unfounded,
“It is the position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that exercising individuals need approximately 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day….Concerns that protein intake within this range is unhealthy are unfounded in healthy, exercising individuals.” –ISSN
4. You’ll Lose Fat
Protein is known to have a satiating effect on the diet, helping you to feel fuller longer than carbs or fats. Protein also has a larger thermic effect, requiring the body to expend more energy to digest it than carbs or fats. Both of these mechanisms are why increasing protein has been associated with weight loss, and more specifically fat loss. Even though whey protein has been shown to help people lose weight, it digests quickly, so using a slow digesting protein like casein in your shake may be even more beneficial, blunting the appetite and staving off hunger for even longer.
5. You’ll Build MORE Muscle While you Sleep
You don’t build muscle while you’re working out. You damage muscles while you workout. The repair and growth happens during rest, primarily during deep sleep. Researchers have found that simply chugging a protein shake before bed can help increase you’re rate of muscle protein synthesis (rebuild and growth) and recovery versus not having that shake.
6. You’ll Lower Your Cholesterol
Whey protein has been shown to be very effective at helping to lower both total and LDL cholesterol. While it probably isn’t going to replace your blood pressure medications, supplementing with a whey protein shake may help if your doctor has advised “lifestyle therapy” as treatment,
“whey peptides appear to be a well tolerated and safe lifestyle option for improving BP in a population of prehypertensive or stage 1 hypertensive men and women.”- Pins and Keenan
7. You’re Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk is Lower
In this study whey protein supplementation lead to a more than 6 point reduction in those who had elevated blood pressure. While another study found the same blood pressure lowering effects of whey protein to be true in obese people with above normal blood pressure. Whey protein shakes won’t completely reverse high blood pressure but it does appear that, if used consistently, whey protein shakes can be an effective part of a blood pressure reduction plan.
8. They’re Easy “Grab and Go” Nutrition
In our busy lives sometimes we feel the time crunch and reach for something that’s “easy” and end up with a handful of cookies, chips and other empty calorie foods. Doing this just leaves us tired, irritable, in a mental haze. Worst of all, you’re probably only satisfied for a moment and hungry 15 minutes later.
Mixing up a quick protein shake on the spot or even having a pre-made shake in the fridge can help keep this from happening. There are lots of really easy and delicious recipes out there that don’t take very long to toss together and will store nicely in the refrigerator for days. Just make sure you shake it up really well if it’s been sitting for more than a few minutes. Protein shakes can provide a nice, fast and easy supplement to fill the gaps in your nutrition, help improve your health and simplify your busy life.
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com