Protein shakes and supplements are a staple in a large number of gym-goers’ diet. They claim to help build muscle or ‘bulk up’, aid recovery, speed up metabolism, and help weight loss.
There is some truth to these claims – but are shakes and supplements the answer, or could we get the same effect (or better?!) from eating whole foods. I’ll outline the argument for and against for using protein shakes/supplements but the simple answer is that there is no “one size fits all” approach.
Case for Whole Foods
- Shakes are not necessarily BETTER than whole foods – as long as you are eating enough protein in your diet (trust me, you are!) there is no evidence to suggest that protein shakes are better than protein-rich foods for muscle growth and repair
- Chewing food makes you feel full – if you are watching your intake, eating protein from food may be better for your energy budget.
- Whole foods are cheaper – recovery shake = $3.66 for 1 serve vs. Milk = $1.80 for 1 Litre (at least 3 serves!)
- Whole foods offer a whole range of essential nutrients to help you meet other nutrition goals such as recovery, hydration and immune function – protein is not the only nutrient that helps in muscle gain and recovery
- There’s a huge variety protein-rich options – eggs, milk, lean meat, chicken, fish, yoghurt.. just to name a few
- Protein supplements often contain long list of ingredients that we’ve never heard of and are of little benefit or potentially harmful
Case for Protein Shakes
- Protein shakes are convenient – easy to pack in your gym bag
- Protein shakes are easy to get down – if you are not feeling very hungry after your workout, shakes may be an easy option to kick start your recovery
You can decide what works for you!
Warning: Protein supplements may contain harmful substances – you never know exactly what’s in your shake. If you are competing at a high level, make sure you know where your supplements have come from and if they have been tested for banned substances.