Are protein shakes good or bad? That’s the question everyone seems to be asking themselves at the moment. Besides multivitamin products the second most consumed product are protein shakes and it’s no wonder that most people are wondering if there really are any long term bad side-effects of using these products.
In this article you’ll learn all you need to know about protein shakes and also a couple of negative effects that will make you reconsider the dosage.
What is a protein shake anyway?
Protein shake is currently the best bio-available source of protein available, this means it’s the most efficient protein source. Only thing that comes close to protein shakes in mater of protein quality is egg white protein. Protein mixed in shakes comes in many forms, but it’s usually some sort a powder substance derived from egg whites, soy or whey. There’s a long way to go from the raw unusable protein source to branded protein powder which we all love. One of the best benefits of protein powders is the practical application, you just add water or milk, shake a bit and it’s ready for drinking.
Protein shakes are mainly used as a supplement to fill in the daily protein requirements and as a meal replacement strategy for weight loss. Most people take advantage of the fast absorbing protein and drink the shake after workout to increase muscle gains while others use it simply as a low calorie meal for losing weight.
For a full guide on when to drink protein shakes you can check out my article here.
Are protein shakes good for you?
This actually depends on the way you use them. I personally love how fast absorbing protein shakes help me build more muscle and increase my recovery capacity which is very important to me.
I often use them as a fast meal replacement when I don’t have time to cook solid meals, often I’m glad I have some protein with me I can simply have a meal between business meetings when there isn’t enough time to eat and this way I don’t have to worry about hunger and I can prevent any possible muscle loss. What you have to be careful when choosing a protein product is that some of them have added vitamins and minerals which may result in a overdose if you are using a lot of other vitamin and mineral supplements. Shakes are meant to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and as the name says it self as a supplement. Don’t think you can trick the body with replacing 3-4 solid meals with protein shakes as you’ll be missing very important nutrients and especially fiber which ensures good digestion.
The jury is still unsure if protein shakes actually help with weight loss, but generally increased protein intake has been found to promote fat burn which is the number one argument for promotion of protein powders as a weight loss product.
Are protein shakes bad for you?
Some of the additives used in these protein shakes often include artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, fructose, and sucralose which can have some negative side effects. These include: nausea, headaches, shakiness, and possible development of cancer, although this is only not entirely proven by scientific evidence I’m sure if you’re like me you don’t want to risk it. Luckily there are protein powder shakes derived and composed of strictly natural sources which are fantastic and have no risk.
There artificial sweeteners can also add unwanted calories, allergic reactions, and can be mildly carcinogenic (saccharine). Food additive with number 955, or sucralose, is actually made from sugar, and is generally considered to be safe, with most of the ingredients used to make them either being processed by the body, or passed through untouched. My experience with 955 was it gave me a pretty intense headache if I had too many shakes in one day. So I cut back to just one after my weight lifting work out, and none on the days I did Cardio-vascular exercise. The body doesn’t need to repair as much (if any) muscle after cario workouts.
The safest sweeteners are stevioside or rebaudioside which are derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. Other safe ones include: lo han extract, coconut nectar, organic raw honey, and black strap molasses. So, I recommend these healthy protein shakes: Jay Robb’s Whey Protein Powder, North Coast Natural’s ISO Protein, and EnergyFirst – Ultimate Vanilla Protein Powderas very natural products and a safe way to take whey protein.
Other additives include:
- Calcium caseinate (a natural protein)
- citric acid (a preservative)
- carrageenan gum (a thickener)
- certain heavy metals (such as: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury)
Basically, whatever your body can’t break down, it will pass out of the digestive system, but some fear those chemicals in the additives may still be doing some harm on the way through. Very small amounts of heavy metals have shown up in tests, and these can build up over time. Metals take a very long time to pass from the body.
Your guiding principle here should be to buy a protein shake with the least amount of additives, and the safest sweetener you can find. Why put more chemicals into your body than you need to?
As with most products you use, please exercise care and moderation. I’ve also wrote an article recently about whey protein and liver damage, make sure you read it.
Like always read the labels, and be safe.