Are you using protein shakes as part of your diet and workout program? There’s quite a few choices out there in terms of brands, protein types, and flavors. What’s the best choice for your fitness plan?
First – conventional wisdom has been to drink a protein shake right after your workout, in order to not only help with post-workout recovery, but also to help supercharge muscle growth. But, what should the best choice really be?
Types of Protein
At a high level, protein may seem to be just that – protein. But, let’s break that down to three types – soy, whey, and casein.
- Whey protein – This is what you find the most often in protein powders, as it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 ofthe amino acids our diets need. And, the best whey powders also contain whey protein isolate and/or whey protein hydrolysates. They’re easy to digest, and taste very good. And – digestion takes place quicly, which may help get that protein to your muscles faster.
- Casein Protein – This is a much slower digesting protein. And, it tastes even better than whey protein. This is a great choice for a protein shake right before bed-time, since the protein is digested much slower than whey, it helps your muscles recover and build overnight while you sleep.
- Soy Protein – This type of protein powder doesn’t taste nearly as good as the other two types of protein. But, if you’re vegan, it’s your best option in terms of protein powders. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t dissolve nearly as well as the other two.
Should I Supplement with Protein Shakes?
It all depends. If you eat a proper diet, and you time your meals around your workouts – no, you don’t need protein shakes. If your diet already has lean protein sources like chicken, dairy, meat and fish – you’re fine. But, teenagers can definitely benefit from protein shakes due to their being in a high-growth phase. And if your’e just beginning a workout program, and need to build muscles faster, adding protein shakes to your diet can help speed things up. Finally, if you are eliminating meat from your diet, and still want to get a proper amount of aminio acids in your diet to fuel growth and recovery for your muscles, you’ll want to consider adding protein powder shakes to your diet to make up for the decrease of meat-based protein in your diet.
How Much Do I Need?
Most people need from 10-14 extra grams of protein per day to build 1 pound of extra muscle. That’s it. So, spending extra on powders that have 50g of protein per serving is not needed. Since you can only use a little under 1g of protein per poind of body weight – that extra protein gets burned for fuel, instead of fat – so that extra protein may actually be counter-productive to your weight loss goals.
When is the best time to have a protein shake?
If you’re hitting the gym hard, and you’ve just had a killer workout, what you need immediately post-workout – is carbs! Your muscles need fuel! So, rather than a high-protein shake, just have some milk – or better yet – chocolate milk! Chocolate milk tastes great, gives you protein and carbs in the ratio of four-to-one carbs vs. protein, which is the perfect combination of carbs and protein for your post workout snack! Then, if you’re looking for extra protein in your diet, use a protein shake as either a mid-day snack (whey protein is great for this) – or before bed (where the slower-digesting casein protein may be a better choice!
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