These days, it seems that almost anyone that’s looking to build muscle goes out and buys a nice big tub of protein shake. The thing is, a lot of people don’t really question why they are doing this. They simply think that because they want the perfect body, they should go out and buy a protein shake and it will act as some kind of “magic potion”.
A lot of people that buy protein shakes will find that it has no effect on them at all whereas others will find that it really does help them achieve their goals. But the question is, how do you know if it’s going to help you and should you bother with protein shakes or not?
What Does A Protein Shake Do?
Before we decide whether you should go out and buy a tub of the latest protein shake, let’s look at what a protein shake is and what it does.
Essentially, a protein shake is a concentrated form of protein that has been created so that it is easily digestible and easy to prepare. Protein is the building block of all muscle tissue so getting enough protein to build muscle is absolutely paramount.
The reason protein shakes are created is because people generally find it hard to get enough protein from their diet to aid in their muscle building goals. Sure, you might be able to eat a lot of eggs and chicken but this might still not be enough.
So basically, a protein shake is going to aid in muscle repair and growth which in turn, is likely to see increased muscle growth for most people.
Reasons To Bother With Protein Shakes
There are a few reasons that you might want to take a protein shake and here are a few of them.
#1 – Increase Protein Intake
A good bodybuilding will know how much protein he/she needs on a daily basis. This is calculated by working out your macronutrient requirements and will vary depending on a number of factors such as age, height and weight.
Let’s say that you know you need to be consuming 200 grams of protein a day and you’ve worked out that from your diet, you’re only getting around 150 grams of protein. You’re short of your daily requirement, even when eating healthy, protein rich foods.
This is where a protein shake might come in handy. A protein shake can be used to supplement this protein intake and bring it up to the required level. Most protein shakes will contain about 25 grams of protein per serving so by having two protein shakes a day, you’ll get the extra 50 grams that your body needs.
#2 – To Aid Repair Post-Workout
When you workout, you are basically going to be tearing your muscles. It is for this reason that a lot of people experience pain and stiffness after their workouts and find that they are not able to go back to the gym for at least a few days. Again, this is where a protein shake might help.
After a workout, your muscles are in need to protein and energy and quickly. It is common knowledge that consuming some form of protein as quickly as possible after your workout is not only going to help your body to repair your muscles more quickly, but also help your body to use that protein to increase muscle mass.
Because protein shakes offer a huge amount of protein per serving and are created to be fast-acting, they are perfect for consuming after your workout. Protein shakes are also extremely portable meaning that you can prepare a shake at home and simply take it to the gym with you to be consumed after your workout.
Reasons Not To Bother With Protein Shakes
While there are plenty of reasons that you should use protein shakes, there are also a few reasons that you shouldn’t bother with them either.
#1 – Food Is Better
There’s no doubt about it, if you can obtain your protein from natural, healthy foods, it’s going to be better for you. Things like eggs, chicken, beef and nuts have a lot of protein in them so if you can, you should try and consume as much of your daily protein intake as possible from real food.
You should only ever use protein shakes to supplement your diet if you really can’t get enough protein from your food. Protein shakes have been created to mainly offer protein whereas a protein rich food is going to contain a lot more vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates than a protein shake. It is also going to be a lot more filling than a protein shake too.
#2 – You’re Goal Isn’t Muscle Gain
If you’re working out in the sense that you’re regularly jogging then protein shakes might not be the best option either. If you don’t want to gain muscle, then your body isn’t going to need anywhere near as muscle protein than if you’re doing intense weight lifting.
Sure, protein shakes might help you to feel less aching in your legs after running but with a proper diet, you’re probably going to be getting enough high quality protein to aid in repairing your muscle anyway. It’s only when you’re doing extremely intense weight lifting that your muscle tissue is going to need that extra boost to help it repair.
In conclusion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with protein shakes if they’re used in the right way. If you need to up your daily protein intake and aid in muscle repair following your workout, they are great.
However, if you want to simply purchase a protein shake and expect the muscle to pile itself on simply because you’ve been to the gym a couple of times, you can forget it. You still need to workout hard and you still need to consume good food on a regular basis as part of your regular diet. Protein shakes are not a substitute for a good diet and hard work.