Protein is one of the critical nutrients required by all of us. Recent surveys revealed that more than 70% of Indians are protein deficient. Adequate protein intake promotes muscle building, encourages weight loss, supports healthy metabolism and smooth functioning of various processes inside the body. Therefore, the diet should be rich in proteins, and one must try to include a portion of protein-rich food in every meal.
Protein shakes are a source of high-quality protein and an excellent way to satisfy everyday protein needs. They are convenient, economical and healthy. Protein shakes were attached to a misconception that they are only meant for bodybuilders.
With recent studies and increased awareness, people have realised that protein shakes can be enjoyed by anyone aiming to fulfil daily protein needs. In fact, a protein shake is a superb choice to lose weight.
Protein shakes offer a huge variety in their source and provides the flexibility to choose your liking and health goal.
- Whey protein shakes contain whey as the primary protein source either in concentrated, isolated, or hydrolysate form. It is fast-digesting, packed with all essential amino acids and may or may not contain lactose.
- Casein protein shakes have casein as the primary protein source, a slow-digesting protein. It also has a similar PDCAAS value of 1, like whey, containing all nine essential amino acids.
- Plant protein shakes derive protein from plant protein sources like peas, legumes, brown rice, hemp, soybean, quinoa and spirulina. Plant-based proteins are also rich in all essential amino acids and the perfect lactose-free and vegan-friendly option.
- Blend protein shakes usually contain a blend of different protein sources, such as whey and casein. Blend proteins provide the benefit of multiple protein sources in a single-serve.
Protein shakes are available in both unflavoured and flavoured forms. Further, they may also contain nutrients like vitamins, minerals, herb extracts and superfoods to provide an additional health boost. For example, protein shakes for women usually have a higher iron and calcium nutrient content.
Health Benefits of Protein Shakes
- Promote lean muscle mass: Protein shakes are usually low in fat and carbs and rich in proteins. They promote lean muscle growth, reduce muscle breakdown and damage when combined with a regular exercise schedule.
- Support muscle recovery: Protein shakes are ideal if you need something quick to fuel your muscles post-workout for recovery.
- Boost metabolism: Studies have shown that a protein-rich diet supports a healthy metabolism and energy production. In addition, our body expends more energy while digesting protein than fats and carbs, resulting in a slight metabolic boost.
- Aid weight loss: Include a protein shake in your diet if you want to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Protein shakes suppress appetite, prevent unwanted food cravings and maintain a healthy hunger hormones balance.
- Nutrient-rich: Proteins shakes are a great way to deliver all nine essential amino acids to the body, which our body can not produce. In addition, they may also provide the benefits of added vitamins, minerals and superfoods.
- Support immune health: Yes, you have read it right! A protein shake for immunity. Whey protein contains glutathione – a powerful antioxidant that strengthens immune health and disease-fighting ability.
- Reduce disease risk: Protein shakes help maintain overall well-being by encouraging a healthy weight, blood cholesterol and sugar levels, thereby minimising the disease risk at every life stage.
- Promote bone health: Studies have shown that a protein-rich diet means better bone health and reduced risk of bone-related disorders in later stages of life.
- Healthy hair, skin and nails: Protein shakes provide amino acids that our body utilises to synthesise keratin and collagen to keep nails, hair and skin strong and shiny.
Best Protein Shakes and Smoothies
Protein shakes are very versatile to use, and they can be easily be added to your regular meals. When included in a calorie-rich diet, you can also consume protein shakes for weight gain. Try these homemade protein shake recipes to fuel your muscles and nourish your body.
- Banana Protein Shake: Blend banana and vanilla protein powder with milk or greek yoghurt.
- Soy Almond Shake: Mix plant-based soy protein powder with almond milk and flaxseeds.
- Berry Protein Smoothie: Blend berries or frozen fruit with yoghurt and a scoop of unflavoured protein powder.
- Peanut Butter Shake: Combine peanut butter with a scoop of protein and milk.
- Coffee Protein Smoothie: Blend a pinch of coffee powder, cocoa powder, chia seeds and a scoop of protein powder with yoghurt.
To sum up, protein shakes are an easy, safe and yummy way to add extra protein to your diet. Third-party verification, nutrition labels, dietary choices, and individual health factors should be considered when supplementing a diet with protein shakes.