There are numerous nutritional supplements available today. Each one is aimed at a specific type of user, to whom it provides a series of benefits thanks to the properties of their respective ingredients. Among all of them, one of the most widely consumed by society are protein shakes.
What are protein shakes and what are they for?
The essential amino acids that are present in structures are classified as proteins. Specifically, they are used by the body for the purpose of complete muscle regeneration, which also includes other very important elements such as antibodies, hormones and even connective tissues.
It is these substances that are present in protein shakes, designed to help the body regenerate all the essential elements it has lost in the course of sporting activity.
Of course, those who do not do sport can also benefit from these products, but only by ingesting half as much. In such cases, 0.8 grams of protein multiplied by the total number of kilos a person weighs is sufficient. If you exercise regularly, the figure is doubled to 1.6 or even more, depending on the intensity of the activity.
This extra protein intake is very difficult to achieve with a conventional diet. That is why protein shakes are especially helpful when it comes to gaining muscle mass. Without them, this goal can become more complicated or take much longer to achieve.
In addition to strengthening muscles, they also help to increase blood glucose levels, which translates into a large amount of energy. As if that were not enough, they have a great satiating component despite being low in calories, and can also be used to lose weight without causing a loss of muscle mass.
In addition to all this, optimal recovery is achieved even during high-intensity physical activity. Endurance becomes considerably higher.
Amino acid structures are present in these drinks, reaching an extremely high percentage. The format aids intake, facilitating preparation and subsequent consumption. The powders in which protein shakes are usually marketed can be easily mixed with any type of liquid, from water to milk.
Having mentioned milk, it is very common for its whey to be used to make protein shakes. However, there are other sources from which it can be derived.
Types of protein shakes
Let's start with the ones we have already mentioned, and which are currently the most popular. They are usually known as Whey Protein and their success lies in how easily all the essential amino acids are assimilated. In this way, physical recovery after sporting activity takes place in record time.
Depending on how the whey is filtered, a more or less pure protein shake is formed. Opting for products that come from protein concentrate or protein isolate also gives a good result in terms of the amount of nutrients, although those who want the highest level of purity will opt for hydrolysed whey proteins.
The result is very similar to the protein shakes mentioned above, although they differ in one important respect: they are lactose-free. Everything else is almost identical, including how quickly the body assimilates its substances.
This is an excellent alternative for those who would like to benefit from Whey Protein but cannot because of its high lactose content, for example those who are lactose intolerant.
A mixture of phosphorus and calcium is found in milk and can be extracted in the form of casein to make protein shakes which, although they come from the same ingredient as whey protein, are very different.
In this case, the release takes place very slowly. It takes time for the body to digest the product taken. For this reason, it is advisable to take it before going to bed or at any time of the day after which no food is to be taken for a few hours.
Sequential release shakes:
Although there are protein shakes such as the egg shake, which we will look at later, that release sequentially, there are others such as the one recently described that do so very slowly. Mixing them with other proteins such as Whey ensures that sequential release predominates.
This is demonstrated by protein shakes that combine both whey and casein. The absorption will be optimal, varying the amount of amino acids that will be available in the athlete's blood.
Speaking of alternatives, it is time to address one of the most popular ones. We are referring to vegetable protein shakes, which avoid ingredients that come from animals.
Vegan diets, as well as vegetarian diets, can include this type of products that are characterised by providing a large amount of amino acids, a figure that varies depending on the ingredient it comes from, ranging from hemp to soya, peas and rice.
If animal products are not an impediment to the diet of the athlete in question, egg albumin protein shakes are highly recommended as well as successful. In fact, they are currently ahead of only Whey Protein in terms of sales figures.
This is not surprising given the very high biological value of egg shakes. In addition, they are released into the bloodstream in a sequential process, making them extremely versatile for those seeking to gain muscle mass, who can consume the shake without having to do so at a specific time of the day.
When to drink a protein shake
Although it depends on the goal each athlete has in mind, generally speaking there are several times that are ideal for protein shakes.
A clear example is in the morning. The body has spent the night without food reserves, a factor that leads to muscle catabolism. The situation is completely reversed by drinking a shake, especially if it contains fructose. As a result, the liver is replenished with a considerable amount of glycogen and the loss of muscle mass is halted in about half an hour.
It is also common for a protein shake to be consumed at whatever time the training or physical activity in question takes place. Specifically, this is usually done thirty minutes before the start of exercise, although if not many hours have passed since the morning product was taken, it is not strictly necessary, but it is usually recommended in order to perform well.
The one that is 100% recommended is the one that is ingested after the sports session. It does not matter what level of intensity the session has been at, as in all cases there will have been a loss of glycogen that affects the muscles. For a complete recovery of the muscles, it is essential to drink a protein shake within half an hour, thus achieving optimal assimilation.
How many protein shakes to drink per day
There are many aspects that come into play when defining an exact figure, from your weight to the type of diet you follow. For example, eating high-protein foods on a regular basis is not the same as eating a diet low in protein.
In the former case, a daily protein shake, preferably taken after physical activity, is likely to be sufficient. But if for financial or other reasons you cannot afford to include protein in your regular diet, the maximum number of shakes recommended by health professionals as a dietary supplement is three.
Negative effects of protein shakes
Having recently mentioned health specialists, it is now time to address the importance of consulting them before beginning any significant change in your habits. One clear example is starting to drink protein shakes.
A nutritionist will know how to guide you so that you ingest the optimal amount and do not exceed the maximum figures, which could result in several negative effects such as deficiencies not only of minerals, but also of vitamins, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.