What do they do and do you need them?
It's fair to say that going to the gym and protein shakes go hand in hand! I mean most gyms sell tubs of protein. But what do protein shakes do and do you need them?
To answer this we need to briefly talk about what protein in your diet does and why you need it.
Protein is one of the 3 macronutrients, fats and carbohydrates being the other 2. It is essential for the maintenance and building of body tissues and muscle. Proteins are made of small compounds called amino acids (More about these in another article).
I will be going into more depth about the functions and roles of each macronutrient in another article, but for now the above will do.
When we go to the gym and train properly i.e apply enough stress to the muscle. We causes micro tears in the muscle. These micro tears are then repaired and strengthened by the protein we consume. Without sufficient protein from out diet the body will take protein from muscle tissue to try to repair the tears. Now as you can imagine this does work too well. The muscles will not grow as they are breaking themselves down to try to repair the damage caused from training.
So getting enough protein in your diet is extremely important if you are trying to strengthen and grow your muscles.
Protein shakes are not MAGIC!
They are exactly what they say they are...Protein! Now you can get more than enough protein from your food intake if you are aware of what you are eating. My golden rule is if you can get your protein from real food sources then don't bother with a shake.
If you are struggling to get enough protein in your diet, or you simply don't have time to make a protein based meal then a shake is perfect!
At the end of the day none of this matters if you aren't training hard enough, sleeping well enough or consuming the correct amount of calories for your goals.
Protein shakes aren't magic but they can be pretty handy!