Most of us who attend a gym and exercise regularly are fully aware of the importance of staying hydrated. Fluid loss during and after exercise needs to be replenished, and hence intake before, during and after a workout is an important part of any training regime.
That traditionally takes the form of water, or possibly a water-based fluid with electrolytes added in order to replace some elements lost during exercise and through sweating. Nothing to see here, I hear you shout.
But there is a new kid on the fluid block, and its often seen in the hands of new kids on the health club block too. We have all seen them, often lurking in the free weights area. Yes, it the protein shake; large bottles full of curiously coloured cloudy contents, consumed by cavemen and women in between lifting sets of very heavyweights.
Some of us have even been privy to the concoction of these substances in the changing rooms. Out comes a large container full of a powdery substance, which gets transferred into a bottle and mixed with water, before being shaken with a vigour that would constitute a full workout in itself for many of us.
‘What is so wrong with plain old water’, I hear you ask. ‘And if this stuff is so special then should I switch too?’ I’ve heard others question under their breath about its safety and even its legality! So, here is a beginner’s guide to all those questions:
What are they and what is in them?
It may come as no surprise that protein shakes are essentially just that; protein powder mixed with a fluid, often water or milk. Naturally there are protein powders and there a protein powders, but in essence, the two main types of protein used are rapidly absorbed whey protein, and slowly absorbed casein protein. Or, normally, a mixture of the two. Then there are some other bits and bobs added, such as sugar. It’s therefore important to do some research on what would be best for you or get advice from a trainer or health professional.
What do they do?
Muscles in your body have a high percentage of protein in them, and when you do exercise and especially heavy weight training then you put those muscles and proteins under strain. When you feel stiff or sore after a training session then most likely it is because you have broken down some of those proteins. The body automatically tries to repair any damage, and any added protein that is readily available can help both repair and strengthen/grow muscle. Protein shakes simply give your body a protein boost that can help repair and grow stressed muscles.
Are there any side-effects?
Again, there are various outcomes to taking a protein-rich intake, in the same way that a protein-rich diet has outcomes. Some people claim it helps weight loss, but that is the same with a high protein diet too such as the Atkins Diet. As with all heavily biased substances then too much can have a detrimental effect. It is important therefore to follow guidelines and seek advice from a trained professional if in doubt.
Would they help me?
The million-dollar question! If used for the right reasons, as part of the right training programme, and at the right times, then yes. And by Yes, I mean they can increase the amount of protein intake into your body to help recover, rebuild and grow muscles. So, if that is your objective, then it worth research further and asking one of our trained professional staff at Choices Health Clubs. And if it’s not your objective, then it might be best to stick to water! Happy shaking!