Personal Trainer, Liverpool Street


JDP Bikini competitor and Top Trainer Scarlet Hollands gives the rundown on Protein Shakes and the different types.

The “protein shake” is a supplement that is used by gym goers and professional athletes. It is an easy and quick way to feed the body with additional grams of protein particularly for those following a high protein diet however first thing is first, protein powders are simply a supplement, key word being “supplement” meaning we could quite happily and efficiently achieve goals of muscle building and fat loss without by simply getting enough protein from our food and realistically, this is a more preferred approach to many as this way we can ensure you are consuming only wholesome foods as technically a protein powder/shake is artificial. In a perfect world this would be ideal however, it can get extremely expensive and also less time efficient if you haven’t prepped food in advance. It is much easier post workout, for example, to fill a pre-scooped protein shake bottle with water/milk and absorb the 30g protein hit within a matter of seconds.


What is Protein?

Protein is integral nutrient for repairing and developing muscle fibres, as well as for metabolising various biochemical processes that occur in the body. They are used to manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Without an adequate amount of protein our muscles wouldn’t heal as quickly and could therefore lead to overtraining your muscles which could lead to injury.

When to consume protein?

Protein, as a food source, can be consumed anytime of the day. Ideally, you would like to have a source of protein with every meal to complete a balanced spread of macronutrients. Many gym-goers and professional athletes take their protein shakes after a workout as it is one of the best times to get protein into the body so that the protein can be delivered to your muscles, to begin healing the “micro tears” in the muscle.

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Because solid food takes more time to digest and to break down the protein and send it to the muscles, it can be best to take a protein shake immediately following a workout, since protein shakes only take about 30 minutes to reach the muscle after ingestion so we can definitely see the advantage to taking a protein shake in this instance.

Which protein powder should I use?

The answer to this question primarily depends on your preference and goal. Protein powders come in various varieties and each can offer a variation in source and macros. Here are a few most popular ones and what they are used for:

Whey Protein:

Whey protein is derived from milk. The protein portion of whole milk consists of 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. Whey is the most popular type of protein used in protein powders. It’s the best all-around choice in terms of taste, quality and cost. Another unique benefit of whey protein, and one that is often overlooked, is that it enhances the immune system.

I. Whey Protein Concentrate: Whey concentrate is more economical per gram of protein. It has a low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. It has little amounts of fat and carbs relative to your overall nutrient intake.

II. Whey Protein Isolate: Whey isolate is virtually fat-free for those wishing to keep their fat intake lower. It is typically lactose free for those few individuals who are very sensitive to the low-lactose levels found in whey concentrate. Whey isolate tends to taste slightly better than whey concentrate too, yet its consistency is a little thinner, due to the absence of the fat.

Casein/Milk Protein:

Similar to whey protein, casein is another milk protein derivative. Since most of the protein (80%) in milk is casein, the terms “milk protein” and “casein protein” are used interchangeably. The key difference between whey and casein is that whey is absorbed in the digestive system quickly, whereas casein is absorbed slowly and steadily. Taste-wise they are similar however Casein tends to have less flavour variety.

Egg White Protein:

Egg white protein was the most popular type of protein supplement for many years before milk proteins surpassed its popularity due to their better taste and lower cost. Like milk proteins, egg white is also naturally very low in fat and carbs. Egg white protein is cholesterol-free and an excellent choice for those who wish to avoid dairy products.

Plant Protein: Vegetable source proteins, soy protein, rice protein and pea protein are by far the most popular. Soy and Hemp Proteins are unique among vegetable protein sources in that they supply all 8 essential amino acids. Plant proteins are ideal alternatives to whey, milk or egg white protein. They are derived from a variety of sources, including peas, hemp, sprouts, and grains and seeds like brown rice, quinoa, millet, spirulina, chia and more. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, and often provide antioxidants, amino acids, fibre. Plant proteins are typically suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets. They’re also well tolerated by lactose-sensitive individuals.

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Beef Protein:

Beef protein has become extremely popular for those looking for a non-dairy, non-plant protein. It has been long known that bodybuilders and athletes consume beef to help build muscle and increase strength. Beef is one of the best natural sources of creatine. Now, you can find beef protein which is packed with natural creatine and BCAAs, and they are defatted so it contains no fat or cholesterol. They do not taste like beef, and come in a variety of flavours.

Protein powders should be used as a supplement and NOT a meal replacement. If you have any further questions with regards to using protein, speak to your personal trainer or someone who can advise how and what to supplement the protein into your current diet.

author: Matt Williams


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