One of the quickest and easiest ways to get the body's daily dose of protein is the protein shake. It's simple to prepare and doesn't take much to consume. Just drink the glass all the way down and you're done, right? Not really.
Many fitness beginners think that protein shakes alone are the way to go. In fact, they take it as a replacement for a full meal. This is totally wrong. Drinking a glass of protein shake is just a fraction of the whole plate. You need a balanced meal that contains the key macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to live healthily.
According to a recent study by scientists from the University of Montreal, three out of four pro athletes fail at recovering from training or improving their performance because they don't know how to consume protein shakes the right way. So, what is the proper way? Here are some of the common mistakes made when it comes to protein shakes.
1. Too many scoops
Protein powder is a good thing, but too much of it is bad. In fact, if you fill up your grocery cart will too much protein or you go one or two scoops more than recommended per glass, you run the risk of making your waistline bigger, not smaller.
2. You're making things complicated
Keep it simple. Loading your protein shake up with too many other ingredients will only add to its caloric content but will not change is protein makeup. Thus, you're making things “interesting” but with no extra benefits. If you want to jazz your drink up, choose low-sugar add-ons or real fruit. A tablespoon of agave syrup is also all right.
3. You treat it as a meal
A protein shake is NOT a meal replacement. It might be very easy to prepare and take, but it will not fill you up and deliver the necessary nutrients you need to last through the day. Remember, it's just one nutrient. Plus, if you have a full meal at the start of your day, that means the body has to work harder to break the food down. This translates to more calories burned in the process.
4. You're taking less than recommended
Don't go cheap on your shake. Check the quality of the powder you're getting and if it has a longer-than-usual shelf life and is priced eerily low, watch out. It might contain more carbs and fats than actual protein. When buying supplements, go for isolate protein, which may be a bit expensive, but you really get what you pay for. Isolate protein powders are extra refined, so it will give you a higher quality minus the additives. Also, make sure that whatever you buy you get at least 20 grams of protein in every scoop. Go below that and it's a waste of money and effort.
5. You're too focused on shake
So what if you've purchased a huge tub of Myoplex protein supplements? That’s awesome, but it doesn't mean you should down all the shakes you can until it's done. Limiting yourself to preparing just shakes is not just boring, it also keeps you from more muscle building opportunities. Add the powder to your regular meals to get more nutrients. According to studies, adding a scoop to your morning pancakes or porridge will make you less likely to binge-eat or have cravings later in the day.
Timing is crucial when taking your daily dose of protein supplement. Mobile Fitness LA, a mobile fitness group in Los Angeles, recommends that the best time to drink it is within one hour post-workout (not before a physical activity). Why? At this time, the muscles are more open and receptive to food, making it the best time to feed them. By giving the muscles the fuel they need to recover and repair, you allow them to grow faster.