Which protein shake is right for you?
Meal replacement shakes are becoming (and have been for a while) a pretty hot topic amongst the health-minded community. And, as with most hot topics, there have been many many many companies trying to cash in on the trend. The next question is which of these companies are legit, which are bogus, and which ones will help me accomplish my health goals? So what should you look for when shopping for a protein powder? For a quick overview check out our YouTube Video on protein shakes!
Here are the top 3 things you should keep your eye out for:
- Too much protein – some of the top selling protein powders from vitamin shops have 30 or more grams of protein per serving. What is that bad? Taking in too much protein in a serving can keep your kidneys from filtering correctly and lead to kidney damage and increased blood pressure. In extreme cases, too much protein in the diet can make the kidneys shut down, even in people in peak physical condition.
- Protein sources are not all created equal – for vegans, pea protein is the only way to go (ideally organic pea protein). For non-vegans, whey is a great source of protein. But, you can’t use just any source for your whey. The only source you should be using is whey from grass-fed New Zealand. Most commercial companies use whey protein isolate, claiming that the extra filtering makes a purer, better product. The truth is, all that extra filtering and processing removes a lot of the important nutrients that can help with insulin regulation, support your immune system, and help preserve lean body tissue.
- Proteins that aren’t labeled as pesticide, hormone, and antibiotic-free – Most of the protein powders sold by major vitamin companies (specifically, I’m not going to name any names here, but it is 3 letters including g, n, and c) are not tested for heavy metals and a recent Consumer Report’s test showed that 3 of 15 protein drinks tested contained risky levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead. So, here you are trying to be super healthy and it is possible you are actually harming yourself. Plus, these protein powders are no cheaper than the good stuff! Oh, the power of good marketing.
Ok, so now you know what to not look for.
Which meal replacement shake is right for you?
That all depends on what you are trying to do. We are going to focus here on the 3 most common reasons people use protein powders.
- To maintain muscle mass – Sorry vegans, whey protein is really the only way to go to maintain muscle mass. Specifically, if you want one that has BCAA (which are branched chain amino acids with leucine and isoleucine). Why the BCAA? It is the building blocks for those lean muscles, it works together with the whey protein to maintain and build muscle mass after a workout. It is also super important to drink the shake within 30 minutes after a workout, otherwise, your body will go into a catabolic state where it will make fat instead of muscle (in fact, it will break down the muscle to make the fat). If I were you, and I was looking to gain fat and lose muscle, I would skip the gym and just watch HGTV and eat Cheetos, but I have gotten off topic….. So what is a good choice for a post-workout whey protein? FitFood Whey by Xymogen. It comes in Chocolate and Vanilla and has all the good stuff and doesn’t taste like armpits (some do, trust me).
PS: Ok vegans, they also make a FitFood Vegan Complete that has the BCAA that is often missing from vegan diets, so you still get those good building blocks, couldn’t leave you guys out!
- Weight Loss – Lots of people are using protein powder as a meal replacement to lose weight or as part of a weight management program. It is important to remember, if you are using protein powder to lose weight, it really has to be a meal replacement and not a meal add-on. That being said, it is OK to add some calories to it to make it a true meal replacement. I like to make a shake in the morning and use it as my breakfast. It is so much better than a carb-heavy, hungry at 10 AM breakfast, and you at least start the day feeling pretty good about yourself. I like the UltraMeal Daily Support by Metagenics (it comes in chocolate and mixed berry). I like to mix it just with organic almond milk, but you could blend it with berries, kale, banana, insert healthy food here. Should keep you going until lunch.
- Inflammation – Inflammation is epidemic in the United States, everyone has some inflammation. We’re not just talking here about major inflammatory disease states (arthritis, RA, IBS, colitis, etc), we are talking about cardiac inflammation, everyday wear and tear inflammation, etc. Between our diets, over training, and stress we all have some inflammation going on, which is also probably the major contributor to heart disease. Also, GI disorders are largely caused by inflammation. These protein powders modulate the inflammatory response by sending the mediators down a better pathway. So, at the end of the day, you have less total inflammation in your body. Sounds pretty good right? Ok, so the downside…..taste. There are 2 great protein powders made for inflammations. They are Inflammacore by Ortho Molecular (and I would highly (highly) urge you to go with the Orange Splash flavor NOT the banana) and UltraInflamX Plus 360 by Metagenics (and every single patient I talk to has a different flavor preference for that one, can’t give you much help there). Both are great products, but they are not going to taste like Jamba Juice. I highly recommend it for your body, and honestly, the taste isn’t that bad, do something good for yourself.
There we have it, just remember you are doing all this to be good to your body. So, be good to your body and pay close attention to the ingredients in your protein powder. Otherwise, the best case scenario is that you are wasting your money!
As always contact us if you have questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time,