Protein shakes: myths debunked and best practice tips

What are the proposed benefits of protein shakes?

Protein powder can help to build lean muscle mass quickly and can shrink your recovery time. After consuming protein, it is absorbed in to the body and broken down into amino acids which are rebuilt into new proteins. Protein shakes are also effective in speeding up your metabolism, aiding your performance and boosting energy.

What are the main types of protein powder?

  • Whey Protein (3 types)
    • You can get whey protein concentrate which is generally cheaper and often tastes better, it contains lactose and is 80% protein.
    • Whey isolate protein is slightly more expensive, but has the higher protein content of 90%, and contains virtually no lactose.
    • Whey hydrolsate, contains 95% protein, is absorbed quickly, yet more expensive.
  • Casein protein
    • It has high glutamine levels and breaks down slowly over several hours, drip feeding amino acids into your bloodstream, speeding up recovery and rebuild muscle tissue.
  • Other options include:
    • Soy Protein (good for vegetarians and contains lots of glutamine and branched amino acids (BCAAs)), Milk Protein Shakes and Egg Protein Shakes.
    • If you are vegan you need to find a non-dairy protein powder, and luckily these are now far easy to get hold of than ever before.

When choosing a protein powder look out for BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), which are crucial for growth and leucine which is the key acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis and growth.

Sadly, more often than not, compromising on price means compromising on results. Low price concentrate powder with a long shelf life means high fat and carb content. Moreover, cheap protein shakes strip away amino acids vital for muscle growth and recovery will be slower. We recommend Scitec Nutrition 100% Whey Protein, which is a blend of whey concentrate and isolate. It contains a mixture of proteins and amino acids which the body requires for tissue growth and muscle maintenance. It is fast absorbing and there are seven flavours including chocolate, chocolate mint, peanut butter, rocky road, strawberry, vanilla and white chocolate. You can buy this in any one of our gyms!

When should I drink them?

Ideally you should drink your protein shake in the first 30-60 minutes after a workout because your muscles are more receptive and you can initiate recovery by flooding your bloodstream with amino acids, which are quickly shuttled into your muscle cells to become new muscle tissue.

How should I consume them?

Protein shakes often divide opinions and many athletes find that they fail to improve their performance or recovery with the help of protein shakes. Often this is because people are not taking them properly, so here are some useful tips:

  • You don’t need to add too many ingredients. It might be tempting to top up your shake with milk, almond butter, dried fruit, or a scoop of almond butter, but this is only going to push up the calorie content with no extra benefit. Choose low sugar ingredients to build up bulk, not your belly.
  • Don’t go overboard. Consuming lots of protein powder on top of highly protein fuelled meals is only going to expand your waistline. Food alone might be enough for you. If you are the UK average weight of 83kg, you need about 133g of protein a day. You can easily get up to this without supplements, if you imagine having a salad loaded with chicken for lunch and a large beef burger for dinner, you will have already achieved this. Feel free to consult our personal trainers and gym staff to ask how much protein powder you should consume according to your weight bracket and exercise regime, they will be more than happy to give you personalised advice.
  • We advise you not to replace whole meals with protein shakes. Firstly, it will fail to fill you up properly; secondly, you get tons of nutrients from real food, protein does not constitute an equal trade off; thirdly, it requires more calories to digest real food than it does a protein shake.


If you are serious about gaining muscle mass, then responsibly integrate protein shakes into your diet, taking in the correct amount in coherence with your current weight and exercise routine. To keep things in check you could also try adding a scoop of protein powder into your meals, such as porridge or pancakes in the morning, making less likely to overeat during the day and providing you with a tasty alternative.

Remember, protein is not a magic powder, but instead should be viewed as a helping hand. If integrated into a nutritious protein fuelled diet and a dedicated exercise routine, protein powder can help you on your way to gaining serious muscle mass and achieving an enhanced physical performance.

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