Protein Shakes; Why, when and what for? And should women drink them?
My understanding of protein is this, without it in our diets we are unable to maintain, build and repair the muscles we have. I don’t just mean the ones we have worked on tirelessly to hone and sculpt, I mean all of them. Even if you’ve never entered a gym in your life, without protein we would still not be able to build, repair and maintain our muscles. Protein is also essential to our immune system which helps us fight off disease and infection. It has also been said to help skin, hair, nails and eyes all stay healthy.
Protein can be found from many sources such as Animals (Meats like beef and chicken) or from other sources such as eggs, Nuts and Seeds, Legumes, Fruits and Cereals and Wheats. So with such a wide variety of protein sources why is it that in most gyms across the world will you see people chugging a pre or post workout protein shake? Well the answer is suggested that this is because when the protein is taken in shake form, it can be broken down quicker than when it is in a whole foods form and so it can get to work quicker.
So that answers the why a protein shake question quite easily. The answer to the when and what for questions however are slightly harder to answer. And the reason for this is because the what for will determine the when.
It is widely debated that the consumption of protein post workout within a 20-60 minute window is the best way to get protein in to the system, and so help the growth and repair of the muscles that have been recently worked. I believe that it is from this stand point and assumption that the question “Should women take protein shakes?” come from.
The advertising and packaging of protein will often display a well-muscled male individual surrounded with buzz words such as growth, bulk and gain. Here they are only really highlighting one feature of the product and it is this that will probably dissuade a female consumer, as most often their goals are to reduce weight and size not increase it.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that high quality proteins are more satisfying than carbohydrates and fats and so can improve the body’s metabolism. An increase in metabolism will actually help with a fat loss target. Therefore if consumed before a workout the increase in metabolism will help the calorie burning effects during a workout.
It has also been suggested that consumption of a protein shake during a workout can also have fat loss benefits as well. This is because the protein consumed during the workout will replace the energy already expended and so you are able to push on with your workout for longer which will give you the opportunity to burn even more calories and improve fat loss.
So in conclusion, protein is an essential nutrient and so should be consumed by everyone no matter whether they are training or not. Yes a protein shake is helpful as the easily broken down protein can get to work quicker, however the when is dependent on your own personal why.
So, in short. Yes women should drink protein shakes. Yes they are more effective than protein in food and yes they can help you lose weight!