Drinking Protein Shakes: Everything That You Should Know

Ben Emanuel II

before you even take your protein shake before, during, or after your workout, you have to understand that it is never a catch-all solution for people who are looking to gain mass quickly.

The protein supplement market worldwide is estimated at 17.55 billion in 2019. Many are using whey powders and even vegan alternatives to maintain their muscle mass plus recover faster after a hard workout.

But before you even take your protein shake before, during, or after your workout, you have to understand that it is never a catch-all solution for people who are looking to gain mass quickly. Instead, you should be looking at protein shakes as a convenient way to meet your daily protein requirement.

Understanding Protein

It might be a good idea to go back to the basics first to have a better understanding of why you should be taking protein shakes and why not?

Protein is a macronutrient that breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids can help boost your immune system plus help build muscles. Also, there are 20 different amino acids and nine of these amino acids can’t be produced by the body. These are the essential amino acids that your body gets from food and supplements.

How Much Protein Should You Be Getting?

Protein requirement differs from one person to the next. For starters, someone who doesn’t live an active lifestyle will not need as much protein compared to let’s say someone who is trying to compete in a bodybuilding competition.

If you are going to ask the US Food and Nutrition Board, they suggest that the average adult should be taking 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. However, this guideline doesn’t allow you to bulk up. If you are looking to build muscle mass, then you want to get this number up. It is also worth mentioning that the limit is at 2.2g of protein per kg of your bodyweight according to studies.

Let's take a closer look at these numbers. If you weigh 70 kilos, you will need 154 grams of protein throughout the day if you wish to maximize your gains. To put this into perspective, one piece of chicken breast roughly contains 31 grams of protein. That's almost 5 chicken breasts per day. This can be considered a form of extreme eating that isn’t exactly reasonable for the average person.

Supplements Are Not Designed to Replace Real Food

Though protein shakes are vital in today’s world of fitness, it should never replace the food that you eat. Protein shakes are called supplements for a reason—and that’s to complement your diet. Simply put, whey powders and other protein shakes are only add-ons.

Though it isn’t exactly easy to be eating a good amount of protein daily, you also shouldn’t be cutting corners because you will miss a lot of nutrients in the process too.

Whey Protein and Casein

Two of the most popular protein shakes in today’s market are whey and casein. Both are dairy byproducts. Whey is the watery portion of milk that contains nine essential amino acids which is part of the reason why whey is popular in today’s fitness circles. Whey also has lower levels of fats and carbohydrates that allow people to meet their protein requirements without going overboard on other macros.

There are some brands that further process whey protein and market whey isolate products. Whey isolate is your typical whey protein that underwent further processing to get rid of fats, carbohydrates, and more lactose. This is partly the reason why it is more expensive. However, it is highly suggested for those who are looking to lose weight.

Casein is another popular protein supplement. Unlike whey, casein is a slow-release protein that could take around 6 hours to be digested and utilized by your body. What it means is that it can be a good supplement especially if you are the type who tends to do intermittent fasting or if you are looking to still want to optimize your body's protein intake even when you sleep.

Timing is Everything

Timing is an important factor if you wish to maximize the benefits of your protein shakes. Right after an intense workout, whey works better than casein. Whey allows the protein to be used immediately by your muscles making sure that your body isn't going to catabolize its muscles.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a steady supply of protein throughout the day or for long hours at night during your sleep, casein performs better in this department.

You Don’t Always Need Protein Supplements

One of the biggest questions that people ask is if you will have to always be taking protein supplements if you are looking to begin your fitness journey. Though whey protein supplementation has been proven effective in improving athletic performance according to one study, you won’t need whey protein if you are already meeting your protein requirement from food.

Also, keep in mind that both casein and whey are dairy products. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are lactose intolerant. If you will base it from the numbers provided by the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, 30-50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. It means that you should always be aware of what you are taking.

Final Thoughts

Diet and supplementation are two important things that should go hand in hand with your program. However, you shouldn’t be confused about replacing real food with supplements. The best approach is to use supplements if you just had an intense workout and if your current protein intake from food isn’t enough to meet your body’s demands.

Do you also take protein supplements? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!