“Sweet and yummy flavors? Convenient? Filling? Sign me up, please!”
Protein shakes of all different flavors dominate in the diet and fitness industries as manufacturers claim their products help build and repair muscle, shed fat and contribute to weight-loss.
But on the flip side, controversial advice circulates in these same industries as to whether or not protein shakes are actually beneficial to the everyday individual’s weight-loss goals.
Could protein shakes be the missing ingredient in your diet plan? Well, it depends on you and your lifestyle, but we’ll give you the information to help you make an informed decision.
Pros of Protein Shakes
Truth be told, the widespread popularity of protein shakes isn’t just based on hype. There are certainly some convenient advantages to drinking them, so let’s take a closer look.
If you’re on a limited-calorie diet, protein shakes can help you stay within your daily calorie range. Pre-packaged bottles can especially help you stay on track because Nutrition Facts Labels tell you exactly how many calories you’re consuming (but watch out for serving size). Replacing some meals with shakes can ultimately help you reduce your daily caloric intake and lose weight.
Ease and Convenience
Meal-prepping can be challenging, time-consuming and require lots of Tupperware and other portable containers. Running low on time? Don’t feel like spending a Sunday preparing 5-10 meals for your lunches and dinners? Protein shakes can be a convenient, easy option.
Lots and Lots of Protein
If you’re an athlete or fitness junkie who always needs the extra energy and muscular advantages, protein shakes can help you get the amount you need. If you have protein deficiencies or you’ve had weight-loss surgery, they also help you meet your nutritional needs.
Cons of Protein Shakes
While replacing some meals with protein shakes can aid with weight-loss, protein shakes are usually high in calories by nature. Protein itself is dense in calories, so consuming too much can actually make weight-loss more difficult (or even contribute to weight gain).
This effect is heightened if you consume protein shakes in addition to your usual diet, and don’t burn off excess calories. According to Healthline, the average adult needs 46 – 56 grams of protein per day — lower amounts on average for women and higher amounts on average for men. If your regular diet is balanced and sufficient, you don’t need the extra protein.
There’s also the after-effect of protein shakes that makes a difference. Once you begin incorporating more solid foods back into your diet, weight gain may become a problem if you don’t choose these foods carefully. And if you rely too heavily on shakes, you’re probably missing out on powerhouse nutrients that come from regular whole foods.
The Bottom Line
Protein shakes can be extremely beneficial to your health and weight-loss goals if you use them in moderation. Don’t rely on them for every meal, but don’t be afraid to add one in every once in a while if you’re tight on time, controlling your calories or looking for something different.