When it comes to training and eating, one of the things that annoys me most (there are many!) is when people screw their nose up when I drink my protein shakes. They tell me I’m drinking chemicals and that I’m going to develop the muscles of a man from drinking them, ignoring the fact that there are a whole host of benefits to be gained from protein powder.
I do agree that you’re absolutely better off eating whole food like meat and vegetables most of the time, but there are certain moments when the nutritional benefits in protein powder actually outweigh what regular food can provide. Of course, the convenience factor should also not be overlooked.
I never have more than two shakes a day. I have a whey shake as soon as I finish working out and a casein shake right before I go to bed. Occasionally I’ll have one on the weekend when I’m out and about, but I will still never have more than two a day.
But just what is protein powder?
The two by-products of cow’s milk are casein and whey, which make up approximately 80 and 20 per cent respectively. Whey is a fast-acting protein which is rapidly absorbed and peaks in the blood after 90 minutes. In my opinion, it’s the best form of protein you can consume immediately post-workout to kick start muscle recovery. Contrary to what those around me might think, it does not contain testosterone and therefore will not make women look like men.
Whey is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids (other complete proteins include meat, eggs, dairy products, soy and quinoa). It also contains the highest known levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) of any natural food source, which are extremely important for any kind of exercise. In fact, whey protein is so beneficial that it can be found in most infant formulas! I don’t know how many babies I see with guns blazing…
Casein protein, on the other hand, is absorbed very slowly. Digestion takes anywhere between four to seven hours, which makes it a great food to consume prior to bedtime to ensure your precious muscles aren’t broken down while you are sleeping.
Protein powder has also been proven to boost your immune system and improve your skin. Some studies have even shown that the various individual types of proteins in a powder can lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of various cancers and improve sleep quality.
You do not need to be a bodybuilder to drink protein shakes. They benefit everyone by giving your body the protein it needs minus fat and sugar. Not only is protein essential for muscle growth, it helps with weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer and using more energy to break itself down compared to carbohydrates or fat. Even better is that studies have shown an increase in whey consumption can cause you to lose body fat while retaining muscle.
Did I mention it’s delicious? There are so many things you can make with protein powder beyond a simple shake. My favourite meal of the day is my pre-bedtime protein snack! Chocolate and peanut butter…need I say more?!
What’s your favourite way to enjoy protein powder? Do you have any concerns about potential long-term side effects?