Protein shake supplements are now very popular among young adults, particularly in male athletes. In fact, it is estimated that approximately half of American collegiate athletes are using nutritional supplements, with protein shake supplements being one of the most commonly used. Before investing on these products, however, it is important to have a background on the effects of protein shake in health. To understand how protein shakes work, let’s first have a quick look on what exactly protein is.
Protein, along with carbohydrates and fat, is a macronutrient needed by the body for normal functioning. Aside from building muscles and repairing damaged tissues, protein also provides structure, serves as an enzyme to begin cellular processes, and forms hormones, among other functions.
For inactive individuals, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is about 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight per day. For those with very active lifestyle, however, more protein is needed in order to support increased rate of muscle breakdown and synthesis. For athletes, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is between 1.0 and 2.0 grams protein per kilogram body weight per day, although this also depends on the type and intensity of activity that they do. A person weighing 150 lbs. (68.2 kg), for instance, would need approximately 55 grams of protein if he was sedentary and about 136 grams of protein if he were a bodybuilder or an active weight lifter.
Most people are able to meet their daily protein requirements through food. Meats, poultry, fish, and other animal sources contain about 20 to 25 grams of protein per 3 to 4 ounce serving. Legumes, on the other hand, contain about the same amount per 1 1/2 cup serving. Dairy products, meanwhile, provide about 8 grams per 8 ounce serving. Protein is likewise present in small amounts in grains, fruits, and vegetables.
A plethora of protein shake supplements now exists in the market. Many of these products promise to aid in building muscles and help in losing weight. However, before throwing money around these products it is advisable to consider things such as safety, effectiveness, and cost. Before buying a supplement, try asking the following questions: 1) Are they safe to consume; 2) Are they effective; and, 3) Are they worth the cost?
Many athletes believe that protein shake supplements can help them meet their higher protein requirements. Whey protein is a very popular choice because it is low in fat and high in branched-chain amino acids, which may help delay fatigue. What is more, whey has been found to boost immune function and increase muscle mass.
In one study, weight lifters taking whey protein showed greater strength gains compared to those subjects who consumed a diet high in carbohydrates. However, the responses varied among individuals, and strength gains were not observed in all the muscle sites measured. Because of this, health experts believe that more research is needed to support the muscle building ability of whey protein. In general, protein supplements made from whey appears to be safe, though allergic reactions have been reported in some cases.
Different methods of processing can affect the beneficial effects of protein shake in health, and these types of supplement vary in taste, consistency, and total protein content. Like many other nutritional supplements, protein shakes can be quite expensive. Protein-rich foods from animal and plant sources are usually more budget friendly. For people on a tight budget, it is far less costly to increase protein intake through extra food instead of protein shake supplements. Protein shake supplements are generally safe, though the extent to which they help increase muscle mass remains to be seen.