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Protein shakes can be an easy way to increase protein intake. This may be useful for people looking to put on muscle, lose weight, or promote injury recovery.
This article explores protein shakes and provides a list of ready-to-drink protein shakes a person may consider depending on their goals.
A protein shake is a dietary supplement. Typically, it consists of protein powder mixed with water, milk, or a milk substitute. Depending on the manufacturer, the beverage may contain other ingredients such as flavorings, vitamins, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Protein powders are available to the general public to buy and make at home with a shaker or blender. Alternatively, a person can purchase ready-to-drink shakes that they can consume when convenient.
People may choose protein shakes for a number of reasons, for example:
A 2017 systematic review highlights that protein supplements can enhance muscle strength and size in healthy adults engaging in resistance exercise training.
Some research indicates high-protein diets may be beneficial for weight loss. A 2016 meta-analysis suggests these diets may help older adults lose fat and retain lean mass. Meanwhile, a 2019 analysis suggests a higher protein diet may help prevent weight regain after weight loss.
Lean muscle gain
A 2018 review found that protein supplementation significantly increased lean muscle gain in people performing resistance exercise training.
Prevent muscle loss
The American College of Sports Medicine notes that when people reach approximately 50 years of age, they need to increase the protein in their diet to 1 gram (g) of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. This helps maintain muscle mass.
A 2016 study recommends that people consume 1.2–1.6 g of protein per kg of body weight per day to achieve optimal health outcomes in adults.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements as strictly as pharmaceuticals. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the manufacturers to evaluate product safety and label them accordingly. Alternatively, they may receive certification from third-party testing.
This means it can be difficult to verify that the protein powder contains what the manufacturers claim.
A person with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance may experience digestive issues if they use a milk-based protein powder. Fortunately, there are vegan and lactose-free alternatives for people who cannot have or do not want dairy or lactose.
Finally, few current studies explore the long-term side effects of high-protein intake from protein powder and supplements. This means that people may experience unknown risks in the future.
Each manufacturer will have a specific set of instructions on shake dosages and frequencies. When people are ready to drink a shake, they simply need to shake the bottle, and it is ready for consumption.
Although there is debate about when to consume a protein shake for muscle gain, a person should consider drinking it within 1 hour of their workout.
For people looking at protein shakes to lose weight, they may consume them instead of a meal or with a small amount of food. However, it is important to ensure the shake contains other nutrients beyond protein to help a person maintain a healthful diet.
Below, we list five ready-to-drink protein shakes that are available to buy.
Please note that no one at Medical News Today, including the writer, has tested these products. All information is research-based.
SlimFast Advanced Energy meal replacement shakes
This SlimFast product contains 20 g of protein, and each serving is 180 calories. It has a caramel latte flavor, meaning it may make a suitable replacement for a breakfast meal. As it also contains caffeine, it might help people wake up in the morning.
However, to maintain a balanced diet, a person should consider consuming this alongside other healthful breakfast foods.
It also contains 5 g of dietary fiber, which some research suggests can promote weight loss and help a person stick to their diet. This is likely because fiber takes longer to digest, which helps people feel fuller for longer.
MET-Rx RTD 51, creamy vanilla
MET-Rx RTD 51 will suit people looking to increase or maintain muscle mass.
It contains 51 g of protein and a range of vitamins and nutrients. As well as thiamin, a vitamin that aids energy metabolism, it also contains riboflavin, which may ease muscle soreness and promote recovery.
OWYN Vegan protein shake, dark chocolate
This protein shake contains 20 g of protein and consists of pea protein instead of the more traditional whey.
Some research suggests that pea and whey protein produce similar outcomes for muscle thickness and strength. Therefore, this product will suit vegans and people with a dairy allergy looking for a post-workout shake.
Labrada Lean Body shake
The makers of Labrada Lean Body shake claim it is suitable as a snack or meal. The 40 g protein content makes this shake ideal for people looking to gain muscle or lose weight. This high amount of protein may help a person feel fuller for longer and less likely to indulge in extra snacks.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% whey protein shake
This shake contains 24 g of whey protein concentrate and 5.5 g of naturally occurring BCAAs, which makes it beneficial for supporting muscle building and recovery. The manufacturers also state that the packaging is recyclable.
There are several ways a person can ensure they have enough protein in their diet. However, if they wish to consume alternatives to protein shakes, they may consider:
- Increasing dietary protein: Foods, such as lean chicken breast, tuna, tofu, and lentils, all contain high amounts of protein.
- Protein powders: A person can purchase protein powder to make shakes at home with milk or water. This allows people to control the amount of protein they consume.
- Homemade shakes: By combining Greek yogurt with fruit, milk, and ice, people can create protein shakes at home without protein powders.
Ready-to-drink protein shakes provide an easy and convenient way to increase protein intake. Depending on a person’s goals, protein shakes may help them increase muscle mass, lose weight, or gain weight.