Do I need to use protein shakes?

The protein shake market has exploded in recent years, but who can benefit most from these meal replacements, and what are the concerns? Nutritional Therapist Joanne Hart gives us the expert answers.

Balancing proteins, fat and carbs gives us a good range of nutrients in terms of vitamins and minerals to help your body thrive. Replacing any meal with a protein powder might mean missing out on some nutrients, so it requires thought. But there are circumstances and individuals that may benefit from protein powders.

Groups that might benefit from a protein powder drink might be those who find it difficult to eat large meals and want to gain some weight, that's not necessarily the obvious weightlifters that come to mind. Those with digestive issues might also find protein drinks useful and easier to digest.

Other groups are people training late in the evening, they might prefer protein powder rather than eating late. The same applies to commuters who exercise after work and don't eat until they get home.

Not all protein powders are pure

The thing about protein powders is that we need to be clear about the type we're talking about. There are many types, so it's about getting the right one.

A pure protein powder is just whey, pea protein, hemp, soya or egg powder. This can be mixed with water, fruit or juice,or even added to porridge. Doing this could be useful for someone intolerant to the common breakfast proteins of eggs and yoghurt.

But many protein powders contain added carbohydrates, sugars and unnatural flavours. These are less desirable for people who tend to exercise only a couple of times a week, and more frequent exercisers should check ingredients and whether they need the carbohydrates.

Protein bars will tend to contain added sugars, which is likely to provide too much energy if your aim is weight loss or maintenance. Having a balanced meal after exercise, like chicken, vegetables and wholemeal rice would be more nutritious and provide a great source of protein. 

Last updated Wednesday 17 February 2016

First published on Wednesday 17 February 2016