Once only consumed by professional boxers and bodybuilders, protein shakes are now popular with office workers on the go and soccer moms after a spinning class workout. While old school protein shakes were once gritty concoctions that were tasteless and unappealing to most, today they have transformed into designer drinks with fancy ingredients like agave, chia seeds, and macadamia nuts.
What are Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes all serve the same basic purpose, providing the body protein from whey, soy, hemp, and other natural sources. A protein shake is meant to help you meet your daily protein intake goals for the day. If you are eating the right amount of protein-rich whole foods throughout the day, then you may not need protein shakes, but most people do not meet their daily requirements. Today, drinking a protein shake as a meal replacement or workout complement is a fast, efficient, and delicious way to give your body the energy it needs to function optimally.
Freshly Made vs. Store Bought
Protein shakes have become so popular that they are available almost everywhere, from grocery stores to gas stations. While store bought products and supplements can be good when you are in a hurry, they are no comparison to freshly made protein shakes. Consuming natural ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, is always preferred over processed ingredients. Your choices are also endless when you drink freshly made protein shakes. Whether you like a chocolate and peanut butter blend mixed with whey proteins, or a vegan strawberry and banana blend with a soy protein, it is all up to you.
After every exercise routine, it is important that your body receive the nutrients it needs to recover faster and become stronger. During any workout, muscle tissues tear and need to be rebuilt and strengthened for the most benefit. Protein shakes consumed post-workout will help this rebuilding process by providing protein the muscles need to recover. While the necessary protein for muscle recovery after a workout can come in any form, drinking a liquid protein allows nutrients to enter the bloodstream faster and start working on the muscles right away. Some people also have a hard time digesting whole foods after a workout, so protein shakes can be a gentle and convenient way to consume post-workout nutrients.
Some people believe that protein shakes should only be consumed after a workout to receive the most benefits, but many studies are now promoting pre-workout protein shakes for strength training. According to some nutrition experts, a pre-workout protein shake with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) will help give fuel to your muscles during exercise. Taking in liquid protein before a workout can also reduce muscle breakdown because the amino acids will already be present to keep muscles strong. Studies have also shown that drinking protein shakes before a workout can increase the number of calories burned. While it is still essential to drink a protein shake after your workout, a small one before can also benefit.
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