Last week, I wrote a post answering the question I hear on the regular….
I got a LOT of response from that post, thanking me for clarification on a few things, and breaking down how one actually DOES lose weight if they desire (and it does NOT mean drinking protein shakes).
I also got some more questions. Which I thought warranted another post.
Here is basically what I’ve been asked via email, in person, or PM over the past week:
“Should I drink protein shakes?”
Here’s my honest answer…..only if you want to. It doesn’t have to get more complicated than that, really.
But in all seriousness, I coach this stuff. I live and breathe some of this stuff because it is so friggin’ interesting to me. And so I’m going to give you some things to think about so maybe YOU can find your own answer. These happen to be the same things I think about personally, and the same things I give my clients to think about.
I think it’s helpful to put it into some sort of a list of rambling thoughts to think about. Bear with me. I can, at times, be cynical. Which makes for sassy and interesting reading 🙂 I’m going to highlight the big ticket question to ask yourself in each point.
First and foremost, do you LIKE drinking protein shakes? If you do, then by all means, drink them. Seriously. I’ve tried many a protein drink in my day. I’ve come across maybe three that actually don’t taste like chalk. And I wouldn’t call them AMAZING, but I would look at them like one thing that may or may not fit into my life well, depending on my needs at the time. If you like drinking protein shakes, friggin’ drink them. If you don’t, don’t friggin’ drink them. Case closed.
Do you NEED more protein in your daily intake? Remember, in weight management, total calories (or HOW MUCH food you eat) matter FIRST, macros (or how many protein, carb, and fat grams you balance out each day) matter SECOND. So, if you are nailing the HOW MUCH piece, you might need to move on to macros. For my clients and myself, we try to get somewhere in the ballpark of .7-.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Or a certain number of palm size servings of protein each day. However, we don’t necessarily meticulously log or even weigh or measure our food. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you this part though. My true goal as a nutrition coach is to help someone find THEIR balance, or where THEY feel good at. I find I get my female clients the best results if I can get them to at least 100 grams of protein per day. They see and feel change there. There isn’t as noticeable of a different for me (or them) to jump from 100 to 125 or 150, although we do work on that at times. It seems for most, the biggest bang hits when someone who is typically eating an intake of 50-60 grams of protein per day to at least hit the 100 gram milestone. Doesn’t mean they don’t need more and we don’t work to bump them up at times, but that’s where the big changes are noticed in appetite and satiety, at least in my experience. I don’t notice any benefit at all at eating 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, because FAT and CARBS need attention as well.
Do you feel like the convenience of drinking a protein shake is an easy solution? Some people honestly struggle with eating enough food each day, or skipping meals and then later find themselves chewing their arm off out of hunger. Honestly, in these cases, protein shakes might just be the ticket. You can drink them solo mixed with milk or water (which won’t fill you up or keep you full for long), or you can blend them into a huge azz meal with fruit, and avocado, and maybe even some sneaky spinach, and oats. These become portable meals that really only take a minute or two to prepare. Personally, I often sandwich my own strength training workouts in between personal training clients and group classes. That means that sometimes I lift and then train 2-3 clients after, and then can’t really eat a normal meal for hours. In these instances, I often do chug a protein shake, and eat an apple, and possibly a few crackers or pretzels and mixed nuts simply out of convenience, and then I don’t become a jerk to my clients post workout, because I’m not a hangry beast.
Do you follow a rigorous training regimen that leaves you needing a jump on recovery? Listen, if you train Strongman (woman), powerlifting, bodybuilding, Games, or other competitive sports, or even just follow a very rigorous lifting routine, you possibly might need to get a jump on recovery. Bodies recover in a variety of ways, and nutrition is one of those ways. These folks might need an intra workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement during their workout) or a post workout shake (drinking a protein or protein + carb supplement after their workout). Again, let’s not forget that total calories or HOW MUCH we eat matters most. But for people pushing the envelope on performance, we gotta look at the macro piece, and recovery as well. So, if you’re taking a Yoga Sculpt class, no….you do not need an intra or post workout shake for recovery. Ever. No matter what your “health coach” tells you. If you’re doing a basic circuit class, nope, probably not. If you’re doing 15-30+ working sets of exercises, it’s probably time to consider it, you know? If your training sessions are pushing 1.5 hours and up, and it’s not because you are busy texting your friends during them, it might be time to consider them. If you are waking up day after day sore AF, feeling like you got hit by a bus, it might be time to consider them….but more than likely it means you need more food overall, and not protein shakes specifically.
Does your body tolerate drinking a protein shake? Listen, some bodies don’t tolerate protein supplements. They just don’t. People report feeling gassy or yucky after certain ones, and that’s because their body just ain’t having it. Others have no issues at all. This is kind of an individual thing, so it’s important to pay attention. Protein supplements are typically from whey or casein protein, although there are soy protein, pea protein, brown rice protein, egg white protein, and other choices as well. I hope it goes without saying that if you don’t tolerate dairy, it’s probably not wise to supplement with a dairy protein. But if it doesn’t go without saying, I guess I just said it.
Do you keep trying to tell yourself that drinking a protein shake is going to make you lose weight? This is a serious question, and I’m not trying to be a jerk here. But sometimes we like to say “I’m going to drink protein shakes” or “go organic” or “do a Whole30” because we are using the supplement (or organic falala or Whole30) as another means of “fixing” ourselves. So, what I’m trying to say here is, your MINDSET friggin’ matters when it comes to this stuff. If you truly need or want to supplement, do it. If you are using it as a ruse to lose weight or “fix your fatally flawed self”….it ain’t a good idea, you know?
Lots of points to consider with this protein shake topic, yes? And there are more points to possibly consider as well, but I’m running out of steam on this post. Remember, calories (whether you meticulously count them or not) matter MOST. This is the HOW MUCH piece. Macros (or your ratio of protein, carb, and fat grams) matter SECOND. Then a few other things matter after that, but not nearly as much as slaying the calorie and macro beasts.
Remember, you get protein from meat, eggs, fish, dairy, beans, soy, and other stuff. There is no reason you need to supplement protein, really, with all those delicious choices that you can chew. Of course, there may be reasons for you to supplement. You are your own individual with your own needs.
Also remember, drinking a protein shake doesn’t automatically make you healthy. Nor does it make you She-Hulk Jacked Mama Jama (if there WAS that supplement, and it wasn’t roids, I might consider taking it, lol) 😉 Remember, neither food nor supplements have a moral value.
I’m happy to discuss these things with you via comment on this post, or discussion on my Facebook page. I also have an awesome Nutrition Power Tools course beginning September 25th, and we discuss some of this (and a lot more stuff) in the course. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate interest in the course, or just to give me your private two cents on this blog post. Oh, and if you want a list of the protein supplements I use that don’t taste like chalk, let me know as well, and I’m happy to provide you them (none are associated with MLM companies, and all are economical). Also drop me a line if you have an interesting question or topic that might make a good blog post as I’m kind of on a kick where I’m trying to answer common questions.