Protein Shakes: What’s the purpose, should you use them, and how do you choose a good one?

What’s the purpose?

If you believe the ads for protein shakes, they are on par with anabolic steroids and will get you looking ready to wrestle for the WWE championship just by drinking them after (and maybe before and during) your workouts.
Listen, protein shakes are helpful; I use them several days each week. But, they are just what we call them, supplements. That means that they are here to help fill a gap in your diet. If you struggle to get enough protein for whatever reason, (and by “enough” I mean about .8 to one gram per pound of bodyweight if you are lifting weights), then protein shakes can be very helpful.

Should I use them?

First, figure out how much protein you consume on average each day. If you’ve never tracked your calories before, use an app like MyFitnessPal or Fat Secret to do so for a week and get an average. If you weigh 225 and you consume around 200 grams of protein each day, the shakes are likely a waste of money for you unless you just enjoy them. But, if you weigh 175 and you average 50 grams, throw those things in your Amazon cart an hour ago! They will definitely help you.

How do I choose a good one?

Protein shakes, like most products, are all over the map when it comes to both quality and price.
Here are a few tips to choose a good one:
  • Look at the calorie/protein ratio. One gram of protein equals four calories. So, if a serving of the shake is 120 calories and it has 30 grams of protein, that’s a good amount of content. If it’s 120 calories with 12 grams of protein, hold onto your wallet, this is a robbery.
  • Read the ingredients. Basically, just don’t buy something that has a string of ingredients longer than Vader’s kill list. Protein is a simple supplement. You don’t need a lot of added ingredients. Isolates may be marginally better than Concentrates, but in my opinion don’t make enough of a difference to lay down the extra cash.
  • Buy from a trustworthy company. See how long the company has been around and if they have allowed themselves to be subject to third-party testing (someone besides them has inspected their product).
  • Ignore the person on the package and the hype. Choose based on the above 3 and don’t let Tony or Tammy the bodybuilders flex you into buying garbage.

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