Studies indicate many people around the world who want to lose weight or improve their nutrition habits are turning to protein shakes. But despite their growing popularity and acceptance as a convenient source of nutrition, there are some doubts, myths and misconceptions about the safety and effectiveness of this class of functional food.
As a nutrition specialist, obesity expert and compensated member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board, I would like to address the six most frequently asked questions about protein shakes.
1. What is a protein shake?
A protein shake is a single drink that is used as a replacement for one or more daily meals, but it is not recommended as a total diet replacement. These shakes exert their effect through reducing portion size, and consequently caloric intake, while providing excellent nutritional balance and satiety.
2. Do protein shakes really work?
Yes. Protein shakes have been scientifically developed to provide all nutrients that you typically receive from an average meal but with reduced calories.
For example, a typical breakfast delivers around 550 calories as compared to a shake (prepared as recommended on the product’s label), which provides about 200 calories (190 calories for Herbalife® Formula 1 shakes prepared with 8 oz. nonfat milk). So you save approximately 350 calories per meal and you get an excellent micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrient (protein, carbs, healthy fats) balance. You also have many choices of flavors and the possibility to add fruits, spices and other healthy ingredients to create an endless variety of recipes.
Protein shakes are also practical and convenient. They are a perfect nutrition solution for the frenetic pace of 21st century life. You can have your shake at your office, at school, on public transport or in an Herbalife nutrition club where you are a regular invitee. Those clubs are in the more than 90 countries where Herbalife Nutrition operates.
But remember that for the shakes to work, nutrition balance and limiting caloric intake are decisive factors. It will depend on your fruit and vegetable intake, meal appropriateness, stress control, sleep quality and exercise habits.
3. Are there any negative effects of consuming protein shakes?
Protein shakes are an excellent combination of macro- and micronutrients and contain no medicine, hormones or diuretics. As nourishment, healthy adults can drink them, but children, pregnant women, nursing mothers or people with any health issues should refer to a health professional before making any changes to their diet.
In my own professional experience, I’ve seen people consume protein shakes for more than 30 years on a daily basis and enjoy their lives, healthier and happier than ever.
4. Does a shake substitute for a balanced diet?
Shakes are composed of the nutrients you need for a healthy and balanced meal. They are important tools for those who have limited healthy nutritional choices available or occasionally have no time to eat well. Shakes are thus part of a balanced diet.
If you are a fitness-focused person, it’s possible to get all the nutrition you need from a delicious protein shake with less calories than a conventional meal.
Protein shakes are also effective substitutes for meals that are high in calories but poor in nutrients.
However, if you already eat healthy, balanced, low calorie meals, you should continue with your fit lifestyle and probably don’t need to replace your meals for purely nutritional reasons. But if you are away from home or just want some variety in your regimen, you might choose a shake as a tasty, convenient, practical and healthy option.
5. Can protein shakes be consumed every day?
Yes. Protein shakes are a great tool for those who just want to have more healthy and convenient meal options.
One of shake’s biggest advantages is its practicality, serving as a healthy option for busy people. In modern life, people often don’t have time or opportunity to eat a planned or healthy meal. If you are running late for work in the morning, or too tired to cook at night, a protein shake could be a very appropriate solution since it is easy, nutritious and quick to prepare.
6. Are protein shakes only for people trying to lose weight?
No. Protein shakes work as an excellent complement to other healthy diet elements, and they can also be an effective weight management tool. How often you consume shakes will lead you to different goals.
To lose weight, you should replace two out of three meals a day with a shake. Keep on doing this until you reach your weight target. Then, to maintain your weight, you should replace one meal a day with a shake.
If your objective is to gain muscle and lean body mass, you should have all three healthy and balanced meals as planned and add one or two shakes as a snack, to add protein to your diet. Of course your exercise routine is key to determining your success.
The bottom line is that protein shakes are a convenient and practical nutritional tool and a healthy food choice for those who want to get in their best shape and feel good while navigating the challenges of modern life.