Protein shakes are the beverage of choice for fitness buffs worldwide. They are convenient, pack loads of nutrients, and can be timed to match any kind of workout imaginable. With a little moderation and the right mix, you too can use protein shakes to get the most muscle gains out of a workout. You can also use them to replenish tired muscles instead of bulking up, if you are more of a casual gymgoer.
Depending on your goals, different kinds of proteins and formulas may be part of your ideal shake. Adding to the confusion are all kinds of ingredients and potent mixtures that can make the simple act of finding an appropriate shake rather difficult. Arming yourself with the right knowledge will ensure that each and every protein shake you down will lead you to your ideal body much quicker than ever before.
Kinds of Proteins
There are quite a few kinds of protein shake mixes available on the market today. While each of them may have specific uses when ingested, combining them may also yield good results for more knowledgeable gym goers. The most common kinds of proteins are as follows:
- Whey Protein – Whey is composed of about 20% milk proteins, and possess a great amino acid profile. It is quickly digested and absorbed into the body and muscles, and works best while your body is in an anabolic state.
- Casein Protein – Containing a larger concentration of milk proteins, casein contains a unique combination of peptides and amino acids which makes it slower to digest. The slower action makes it more suitable for consumption when you are sleeping, or long bouts of inactivity, rather than something you ingest around workout sessions.
- Soy Protein – Sourced from soy, this kind of protein is also high in peptides and low in fat. Specific proteins, like phytoestrogens, may make this particular protein better for women.
- Protein Blends – Blends are a combination of more than one type of protein put into one mix. They can contain casein, soy, whey, whey isolates and even egg protein, so that drinkers can get a complete range of proteins in a single beverage.
Protein shake mixes that contain natural ingredients will generally be safer to use, unless you are lactose intolerant. Most protein mixes are made from ingredients derivedfrom cow milk, so be weary if you are allergic to dairy-based products.
Buyers must also be weary of using cheap and low-quality shake mixes; unrefined ingredients may introduce more harmful chemicals into your body than vitamins and nutrients. Reputable manufacturers should be your best bets to great protein shakes, as they are not likely to soil their names by putting out bad products.
Pace Is The Trick
Defining your goals can be the first step to drinking a protein shake. It won’t be a magic potion that will give you six-pack abs and a tight, firm butt overnight; if you don’t put in the work during a gym session, then the protein shakes will be useless. Time your drinks right:
- Pre-Workout – Before a workout, a protein shake may help energize your body, helping you push through longer gym sessions. Whey protein fills out this purpose quite nicely, as the natural proteins are quickly digested and absorbed into the body.
- Post-Workout – Replenishing lost energy and tired muscle mass should be your first priority after a long session at the gym. A good protein shake will help speed up the recovery process, allowing your muscle strength to be replenished and built.
- Before Bed, or Between Sessions – Casein also does well for those times you are not working out, especially when you are at rest. As casein is a slow-acting protein, it does it’s work best while you rest, or while you sleep.
Supplementing Meals and Workouts
Protein shakes are not absolutely essential to gaining muscle mass, but they can certainly help. Some people may use protein shake mixes to replace other meals of the day with meal replacement drinks instead, but most will simply supplement a diet with protein shakes. This is because actual foods can offer a wider variety of nutrients that a powdered protein shake simply can’t.
The effects of protein shakes may be more effective when your diet is right. When taken along with a high protein diet, you can expect to get more lean muscle mass much quicker. High protein foods include poultry, fish, eggs, and go along best with a healthy amount of raw fruits and vegetables.
When properly supplemented, a protein shake can offer the following benefits to your health and lifestyle:
- They will naturally help your muscles replenish and grow after workout sessions, and even when you are at rest.
- The amino acid content of most natural protein shakes will also promote the production of red blood cells in your body.
- Supplemented with a healthy diet, you will also experience a stronger immune system.
- Most protein shake mixes also contain more than just protein, allowing your hair and skin to look much healthier than ever before.
When ingested in moderation, the right protein beverage will put you on the fast track to a healthier body. Just be sure to find a protein shake that is both safe to use, and tastyto boot; not many people enjoy the taste of pure, unadulterated protein.