Protein shakes are everywhere. Whether hearing about them from a bodybuilder or your favorite healthy Instagrammer, it seems like everyone is turning to protein shakes. But why?
From what you can tell, protein shakes have something to do with health and fitness, but not everyone drinking them seems to have the same goals in mind. Now you’re wondering, should I be drinking protein shakes, and when? Wait, what do they even do?
To know if protein shakes should be a part of your health & fitness journey and when to start drinking them, you first need to understand why they exist.
Why Do We Use Protein Shakes?
Protein plays a significant role in our basic daily nutritional needs. From helping build healthy bones, to strengthen muscles, to fueling your body and helping you recover, your body composition and development depend on protein from adolescence to adulthood. Protein shakes make supporting our bodies simple and convenient.
In most western diets, we find our protein in meat. While meat is loaded with protein, it can also carry saturated fats and cause other issues in our bodies. In plant-based diets, foods like soy, tempeh, and nuts step in to give our bodies the protein it needs, without the downsides of meat.
When we think ‘protein shake,’ big tubs of chalky powder and competition-ready athletes come to mind when in reality, protein shakes can be used by anyone. Whether you’re trying to monitor your intake of saturated fats or adding vital nutrients to your diet, a protein shake can be a great, convenient and tasty solution. Instead of asking why you should drink protein shakes, start asking yourself why not?
Now that we know why protein shakes are so helpful, it’s time we get into when you should have one and what to look for in one.
When to Drink a Protein Shake
Protein shakes are designed with efficiency and efficacy in mind. Protein shakes can be incorporated into your daily diet, just as your burgers, tofu scrambles, and yogurts are. It’s simple; the purpose of a protein shake is to help you get your protein in a convenient way so that you can reap the benefits.
You may be thinking, well, if it’s so simple, then what’s up with all the pre- and post-workout stuff? The high calorie, vegan, and ready-to-drink options? Well, we’ve got answers.
Different protein shakes will boast different attributes. In the same way that plant and animal-based proteins can’t be everything to everyone, not all protein shakes can be the perfect fit for all of your nutritional and lifestyle needs.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the best time to drink a protein shake. It all depends on your personal goals and body type. Thankfully, there are a few definite rules to live by that will help you make the most out of your protein shake.
Drink a Protein Shake For Recovery and Muscle Development
When exercising, you are actually making small tears in your muscles. When these muscle tears repair themselves, they become stronger and bigger. For your body to heal these muscles to their strongest form, they need quality sources of protein that are packed with amino acids and carbs for energy.
Lucky for us, the high-quality protein you need can be found in high-quality protein shakes like Soylent’s. Soylent is plant-based and made with soy; an excellent source of all nine essential amino acids and 39 other essential nutrients, without all the sugar of other popular shakes. Don’t be fooled; this doesn’t mean that you should chug a shake right before or after a workout, and it certainly doesn’t mean that all protein shakes will make you ripped.
The best way to see results is by being consistent. Research shows that your daily intake of protein is crucial for the efficacy of protein shakes. Your body needs protein before, during, and after your workout. If you are deficient during any of these windows, your body struggles to repair your muscles.
So, when it comes to recovering and rebuilding your muscles, drink a protein shake when you need to hit your intake goals and do it consistently.
Drink a Shake During Strenuous Activity to Avoid Fatigue
Sometimes, protein shakes are confused with performance-enhancing supplements. While protein shakes can help your body recover and perform better, they aren’t the ticket to a more effective training session.
During any strenuous activity, adding more protein into your system can help delay central fatigue, improve performance capacity acutely, enhance the skeletal muscle response to each exercise session, and extend the window of opportunity when the muscle protein synthetic response is facilitated.
In other words, protein ingestion during exercise sets your body up to gain more from the workout once it’s done. If you find it challenging to get your protein in throughout the day, consider combining your workout sessions with snack time and sipping your protein shake in between sets.
Drink in the Morning to Curb Cravings Throughout the Day
When your body is hungry, it releases a hormone known as ghrelin. Before you eat, your ghrelin levels rise, making hunger increasingly harder to ignore. Once you eat, your ghrelin levels go back down, and your appetite is strongly suppressed for the next few hours.
Being aware of how ghrelin works can help you manage your hunger. This awareness is great for achieving weight loss or building muscle mass.
Protein-heavy breakfasts, rather than carb-heavy breakfasts (or no breakfast at all), have shown to slow and even suppress the release of this hunger-inducing hormone. So, switching your seemingly filling breakfast sandwich or loaded bagel to a protein shake could actually keep you fuller, longer.
If you want to switch up your diet or reset your eating habits, consider making a protein shake the first meal of your day. If you’re more of a late-night snacker, try a protein shake before bed to avoid letting ghrelin empty out your pantry.
The Protein Shake For Your Lifestyle
Protein shakes are a great innovation and can help you achieve a lot of your health goals, but they’re not the end all be all. Every protein shake is different, and not every protein source is equal.
There are vegan and animal-based shakes, high-calorie, and low-calorie ones, flavored and unflavored, nutrient-dense, and not so much. It can take a while to find your favorite protein shake that also offers the best nutritional value. Hopefully, Soylent can be of help.
Soylent offers a wide variety of complete, plant-based nutrition shakes with varying levels of protein and other nutrient-rich ingredients. Soylent uses a balance of complete protein, slow-burning carbohydrates, and 39 essential nutrients to create a complete nutrition shake.
Soylent can be more than a protein shake; it’s can also be a meal replacement. Switching one meal a day for Soylent can help you consume more protein and better handle the other aspects of your nutrition.
Soylent was designed to give you both protein and a complete meal in every serving. We strive to create products that fill a food void—when you don’t have access or time to get proper nutrition, you can turn to Soylent.