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Do You Need Protein Shakes? Sam’s Got The Rundown

Protein shakes. Everything you need to know about them - from whether you need them to which ones are right for you based on your fitness goals.
Sam Brown Abreu

No matter what fitness goals we’re working towards, protein is essential to reaching them.

It’s the main building block of any kind of exercise, and that’s why discussions around protein intake are some of the first conversations we have with new members when we start building tailored training plans. 

While some people can get all their protein from their daily meals, a lot of others struggle to reach the levels they need through food alone. 

That’s where protein shakes come into the equation. But if you’re considering incorporating them into your routine, there are a few things worth knowing.

Protein: Let’s start with the facts

Perfecting your protein intake is personal, and will vary based on your body weight and how much you’re training.

The average daily intake for most people sits somewhere between 50 and 60 grams, but it can be less if you’re vegetarian or rarely eat protein-rich food sources like fish, meat and eggs.

In general, if you’re training more than three times a week, you’ll want roughly 0.7 to 1 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

That could easily boost your needs to upwards of 85 grams a day, which is a lot to get purely from breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

You should treat your protein intake the same as water. Have too much at once, it will go straight through you.

You need to stagger it throughout the day to make sure you’re only giving your body what it can absorb.

Luckily, there’s very little risk of having too much protein, unless you happen to be allergic to a particular source of it, like whey, which is quite a common ingredient in protein shakes.

If that applies to you, there are all sorts of alternatives out there. 

Demystifying protein shakes

Now let’s get into protein shakes themselves. The first myth to debunk is that they’re not unnatural and they’re not steroids. 

At their core, protein shakes aren’t very different from any other type of food.

They simply provide key doses of the essential macronutrients that help build and repair our muscles after exercise and throughout the day. 

So the more of it you can give them, the better, more consistent recovery you’ll get while you’re training.  

How much protein is in a protein shake? 

Most shakes start with a protein powder. The base of which will always be a refined, powdered version of a high-protein food source like soybeans, whey, or eggs.

The amount of protein in a shake will vary based on the type of protein powder you use, but usually sits somewhere between 15 and 30 grams per serving.

That’s perfect for supplementing your regular diet, and means you don’t need to worry about spending a lot of extra time, effort, and money on food while you’re training. 

What about Huel? 

What is Huel? You’ve probably seen ads for a brand called Huel doing the rounds online.

It’s a product we get asked about quite a lot, but it’s important to remember that Huel’s products are meal replacements, not protein shakes. 

They can be good options if you want to use them instead of certain meals, but they’re not the best idea if you’re already eating regularly and then stack Huel on top. Because you’ll be taking in a lot more calories. 

Should you drink protein shakes on non-workout days?

Making sure you have enough protein matters much more than when you get it – either through eating or with a shake.

So feel free to have a protein shake for breakfast or before bed. But a lot of people do prefer to have theirs after working out, to get maximum benefit while their muscles recover. 

It’s also good to keep your protein intake consistent, because muscle repair doesn’t just happen in the hours immediately after exercising.

It’s a constant process, so even if you’re not working out on a particular day, there’s nothing wrong with keeping up with the shakes to make sure your body has everything it needs to progress. 

Choosing the right protein shake for you

So far so simple, but what if you’re looking for a specific type of protein shake to suit dietary requirements or training goals?

There are dozens of protein products out there, and finding the right fit starts with knowing exactly what you’re looking for. 

Whichever protein shake you decide to go with, make sure to keep an eye on how it fits in with the rest of what you eat.

For example, if you’re on a high-carb shake but still eating lots of other carbs as part of your diet, then you might find yourself in a calorie surplus without realising. 

The best way to stay on top of things is with food tracking and calorie counting.

It’s the only surefire way to know you’ve got the balance right. So don’t forget to include your shakes whenever you’re noting down your nutritional data. 

Are there alternatives to protein shakes?

Even though shakes are quick and easy, there are other ways to increase your protein intake if you’re not a fan. 

For proof, look no further than the Another Round team. For me (Sam), I can get all the protein I need by spending a couple of hours every Sunday by meal prepping. I like the routine of it, and know exactly what goes into each mouthful I take.

Plus, I get to tailor my protein intake to my own tastes and flavour preferences, with high-protein foods like yoghurt, nuts, fish, and chicken that I know I enjoy.

Some of the coaches (like Max), have a protein shake every now and then when they don’t have the time to meal prep.

Nothing wrong with that either. Others have protein shakes every day. It all comes down to a mixture of personal preference and protein intake goals.

Up your protein, shake or no shake

However you do it, the science all boils down to making sure you’re getting a balanced range of different nutrients from every food group.

Protein shakes are one way to get there. Along with a tailored workout and nutrition plan personalised to you. For one of those, you know who to talk to.

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