Shake It Up!

This week’s blog will be tackling a question from a reader:

What’s the deal with all these shakes? Protein, meal replacements, vegan, etc. Do they really work?
Lost and Confused

Shakes (whatever kind they may be) are usually meant as meal replacements. The shake usually contains roughly the same amount of calories as a meal, such as breakfast, lunch or supper. They are usually promoted as healthy, low calorie and better-for-you than the actual meal.

Some people may use these shakes in their weight loss efforts. If the shakes contain less calories than what would be eaten at a meal, then they may aid weight loss.

For some people who are not able to eat in the morning, a meal replacement shake may be an option. The concern with some shakes is that they may not only contain essential carbohydrates, protein and fat, they may also contain added vitamins, minerals and other (unnecessary) substances. The government does not check all supplements on the market, so there is always a risk of the supplement containing banned ingredients or ingredients that are not listed in the ingredient list.

Let’s take a look at protein shakes. Protein is essential in building and maintaining muscle, and supporting muscle recovery after exercise. Nutritious, protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and yogurt, should be your first choice for protein. But in some cases, protein supplements such as shakes can be an easy way to meet your protein needs. They have not, however, been shown to be better than protein-rich foods.

Athletes may need more protein to support muscle gain and repair. The average person, however, does not. If you still feel that you require more protein or want to increase your protein intake, it is very easy to get extra protein by consuming extra servings of the Meat and Alternatives and Milk and Alternatives food groups.

Protein shakes may contain larger amounts of protein than your body needs, especially if you are also consuming protein-rich foods at meal time. People who consume large amounts of protein powder, as in shakes, may not eat enough from the other food groups. Protein-rich foods can make you feel full quicker. A high protein diet may increase your risk of not getting enough vitamins, minerals, fibre and energy to support optimal health.

As with most things in life, shakes should be researched and the benefits and concerns weighed. If you are still left with questions, consider seeking out the advice of a health professional, such as a registered dietitian.

 

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!