Protein drinks seem to be the latest fad. Which is not surprising. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build and repair tissues, produces enzymes and hormones, and adds structure to the cells in our bodies. If you’re low on carbs or just want to add more to your diet, protein can also act as a source of energy.
For those eager to build muscle, it can be daunting to choose the best protein drink for your lifestyle. The options can be confusing–plant-based, animal-based, powders, and pre-made shakes in a rainbow of flavors. Before going overboard on protein drinks, consider the calories (sugar), grams of protein, and which flavor tickles your taste buds.
If you like things uncomplicated and just need a quick boost of protein, pre-made protein drinks get the job done. Most are portable and shelf-stable and you don’t have to refrigerate them until they’re opened. On the flip side, protein powders give you the flexibility to add them to your favorite recipes—like muffins, scones, waffles, or bread.
Okay, time to delve inside and see what they’re made of. Animal-based products typically used whey protein. Plant-based drinks and shakes, on the other hand, usually have pea or soy protein.
If you’re watching your sugar intake, consider zero-sugar proteins like Recover made with native whey protein powder. The whey protein is directly sourced from fresh milk and made with a cold-filtration technique, which is unlike most types of protein powders that are produced using heat, enzymes, and chemicals that compromise the protein’s quality and effectiveness. It contains one clean ingredient: Pronativ native whey isolate for pure, complete protein in a 19g serving. It’s free from fillers, artificial flavors, additives, rBST, chemicals, and added colors. It’s vegetarian and Kosher friendly, gluten-free, and lactose-free for easier digestion.
For those who hit the gym daily and need that extra boost, there are high-protein shakes like Core Powder. The protein works to rebuild and repair and maintain muscle and body tissue while making new cells. Made from filtered milk to provide complete proteins and a source of electrolytes. Their Elite brand contains 42 grams of protein.
What about plant-based diets? Check out Orgain Plant-Based Protein Powder. It has 21 grams of total protein, including nine essential amino acids sourced from a blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seeds. Their chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Plant-Based Protein Powder contains 21g of vegan protein per serving, no added sugar, and a complete amino acid profile. It’s Gluten Free, Kosher with no sugar added. It’s also Non-GMO, USDA Organic, and made without soy, dairy, or lactose ingredients.
There’s also the issue of homemade vs premade. Usually, those made with healthy ingredients are better than premade protein drinks, which often contain artificial sweeteners or other unhealthy additives.
Homemade protein drinks take a bit of work but may be better for you in the long run. Start by adding milk or water to a blender, and add some protein powder, fruits, vegetables, or other flavorings to get the taste you like. Blend until smooth, and you’ll have a tasty, nutritious protein drink.
The question you may be asking is how much protein do you need? Depends on your gender, age, gender, activities you engage in, and your muscle mass. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. So if you weigh in at 180 pounds, you would need 64.8 grams of protein each day. You should add protein to your diet in moderation after seeing your doctor. Too much protein can lead to weight gain, dehydration, and other health problems.
To summarize, protein products (drinks and powders) can offer several health benefits. These include improved muscle mass, appetite control, and increased energy. The drinks can also help you stay hydrated and many offer a good source of vitamins and minerals. That said, do read the label before you buy one of those big tubs of protein powder.
Some powders contain more protein than others. And some have added ingredients like carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Finally, consult your doctor. If you have any underlying health conditions, check with your doctor before starting any new supplement, including protein powder. Your doctor can advise you if protein powder is right for you, which type you may need and how much you need.
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or any other medical condition. Consult your doctor before adding any protein drinks, powders, or products to your diet.