You see and hear it more and more often in the gym and beyond, protein shakes. Available from many different brands and in heaps of delicious flavours. Popular online stores like Body & Fitshop, XXL Nutrition, Myprotein and Bulk Powders sell protein shakes. But nowadays you can even buy dietary supplements from the Action. They claim to promote muscle recovery and help with weight loss. But is this true? Are protein shakes useful?
Protein shakes useful for athletes?
In order to answer the question of whether protein shakes are useful, we need to look at the studies that have been done on this. Over the years quite a few have appeared and almost without exception they show that protein shakes promote muscle recovery and build-up!
Keep in mind, however, that this is always about getting enough protein. You can also get these from your diet, because products such as dairy, fish, meat, nuts, eggs and legumes are rich in protein. Can protein shakes be useful? Yes, but the base consists of ‘normal’ food. Don’t get enough protein from your diet or are you looking for an easy (and cheap) way to get some extra? Then a protein shake and useful addition to your daily diet.
Proteins and amino acids
First of all, what are proteins and why are they useful? Proteins consist of amino acids. The higher quality a protein, the more different amino acids the protein contains. The maximum number is 20 amino acids.
The human body needs amino acids to build tissues. For example, muscle tissue consists almost exclusively of specific amino acids. If these amino acids are available in the blood, the body can build up additional muscle tissue. If you train hard but have insufficient amino acids available, you simply don’t grow.
Sufficient intake of the right proteins is therefore strictly necessary to build muscle mass and recover faster and well from a workout! Because a shake is easy to prepare and contains a high content of amino acids, we can conclude that protein shakes are useful.
Types of protein
As mentioned above, you have high-quality and less high-quality proteins. As a maxim, you can say that proteins of animal origin are high quality and of vegetable origin less high quality. It makes sense, because the amino acid profile of animal proteins is more in line with that of a human (who is also animal). This makes protein shakes useful if they contain the right amount of high-quality protein.
The best-selling protein shakes contain whey protein. This is an animal protein that is produced as a by-product of cheese making. Whey protein has an exceptionally high amino acid profile. However, there are different types of whey protein, each with its own properties.
Whey concentrate is a quickly absorbable protein. Perfectly suited for the majority of athletes. However, whey concentrate still contains lactose and a number of milk proteins that can cause allergies. But if you have no problems drinking milk (lactose intolerance), you can take whey concentrate. For example, the Whey Perfection from Body & Fitshop.
Whey isolate is highly purified and quickly absorbable. Because of this purification, whey isolate contains practically no lactose and allergy-promoting milk proteins anymore. Suitable for people who have problems drinking milk. However, whey isolate is more expensive because of the extra purification. A good example is Whey Isolate Advanced from Body & Fit.
Micellar casein is a long chain of protein and very slowly absorbable. It forms a lump in the stomach after ingestion because it expands. This suppresses the feeling of hunger and is often used as a dietary protein. Athletes also use this protein especially before bed, because of the slow release the body continues to provide the necessary amino acids for growth and recovery even during sleep.