Have you been trying to lose weight or gain muscle?
No doubt you have heard from friends, or seen buddies at the gym chugging these protein concoctions and wondered “How important are protein shakes for losing weight and gaining muscles?”
That is a great question!
I will attempt to shed some light on this question so you can decide if you want to incorporate protein shakes into your routine.
- Protein Shakes are a TOOL
- Benefits of Protein Shakes
- Benefits of Real Food Protein Sources
- Do we NEED Protein Shakes to Gain Muscle?
- Mix it Up
- How Important are Protein Shakes for Losing Weight?
- Back to the Original Question
Protein Shakes are a TOOL
Let’s be clear:
You can lose weight and gain muscle without protein shakes. You can get protein from “real food” too!
Protein Powders for Weight Loss!
In this video Ben lays it out like it is: Protein shakes should be treated as food. Since they are food, they can be an easy way to get enough protein.
But you can also just as easily eat chicken breast or some other high protein food.
Protein shakes are a tool that make it EASY to consume protein. Eating high amounts of chicken, meat, eggs etc takes time.
You must cook and prepare the food, and then take the time to eat it. Protein shakes save time and ensure you meet your protein goals.
Before we go any further:
I think a review of the benefits of protein shakes, and well as the benefits of real food should be considered.
Benefits of Protein Shakes
- Faster to prepare and consume
- Super convenient- easy to take to the gym or on the go
- (some) Taste good, or at least better than yet another chicken breast
Benefits of Real Food Protein Sources
- Trace minerals, and nutrients not found in protein shakes
- Higher thermic effect (you burn calories via digestion)
- Whole food (eggs, chicken breast, etc) do not have unpronounceable chemicals and ingredients
Do we NEED Protein Shakes to Gain Muscle?
Is Whey Protein Necessary?
Elliot Thulse with Elliot’s strength camp seems to believe that no, protein shakes are not necessary.
He believes that gains can be made with real food, and that protein shakes are a lot of hype and marketing, and a way for the dairy industry to off load unwanted whey that they used to just toss. Interesting.
The Exception to the rule
While many body builders and weight loss gurus say protein shakes are not necessary, there are just as many on the other side of the argument.
The Three BEST Times To Take Protein!
Vince with V Shred recommends the use of protein powers, but he does mention a very important caveat.
He says they should be used sparingly, and as a convenience food. He recommends the best time to drink a shake is post workout, if you can not sit down and eat a proper meal.
The reason it is so important to consume protein post workout is because you have just shredded your muscles and they need protein to rebuild.
So let’s talk about the convenience factor
If your GOAL is building muscle or trying to lose weight, you need to do what works.
For some people, some of the time, eating chicken breast or eggs, does not work.
In other words: It is not sustainable.
As with most lifestyle changes, if they are a PITA to implement, or you do not enjoy the activity you are less likely to stick with them.
- If you don’t like to cook
- If you do not have time to cook every meal
- If you are sick and tired of chicken breast
- If you like the way protein shakes taste
If these things are true for you, using a protein shake, at least occasionally, may boost your compliance and success.
In other words: It becomes sustainable, for you!
Do what works FOR YOU!
Forcing yourself to cook every meal and sit down to eat real food, if that does not fit your lifestyle, is a recipe for disaster, because you can not stick with it long term.
If using protein shakes help you stick with the program, and you enjoy drinking them, then I would say go ahead and do it.
No one can argue that protein shakes are better, or more important to fat loss and muscle gain goals.
They only become ‘better” if they help you achieve your goal when cooking and preparing real food would cause you to stop or quit.
Mix it Up
One of the most common ways to use a protein shake is as a supplement once a day, instead of as a meal replacement
As an example: Let’s say your goal is 175 g of protein per day
- Breakfast: Eat two eggs 25 g of protein (estimate)
- Post Workout: Whey isolate Protein shake 25g
- Lunch: 6 oz turkey on a sandwich 30g (estimate)
- Dinner: 200g chicken breast 60 g of protein (estimate)
- Bedtime snack: Heaping cup of cottage cheese 40 g (estimate)
This example only includes only a rough estimation of the protein components and is only here to illustrate how a protein shake can be a part of your food intake.
Your protein needs may vary, and of course, you need to add in your other macros.
The point is, a protein shake can be a part of your diet, it does not have to be the whole enchilada.
And no one will fault you for not being up to cooking right after a strenuous workout!
How Important are Protein Shakes for Losing Weight?
Again, protein does not need to come from a shake, but protein in general can be hugely beneficial to your weight loss efforts.
How to Use Whey Protein for Weight Loss
This video discusses how to use whey protein powder for weight loss.
The benefits of using protein powder for weight loss:
- Helps you stay full = eat less
- Protein cut’s sugar cravings
- Protein shakes are very convenient
- Protein helps maintain muscle while cutting fat
Clearly, protein shakes can be an easy, convenient way to assist weight loss efforts.
Back to the Original Question
How important are protein shakes for losing weight and gaining muscles?
How important they are, in my opinion, depends on how effective they are for your personal routine.
If you have the time and inclination to cook and use real food to get your daily protein, they are not at all important for you.
If you are super busy, always on the go, and can’t boil water, they may be super important for you!
It all comes down to what works-what is sustainable-for you!
Let us know what your opinion is in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.