Wouldn’t be nice to be able to get everything you needed nutritionally from a delicious shake? While that might not satisfy everyone because eating can be a pleasure, it would be awful convenient to just whip out a shake instead of hard-boiling a bunch of eggs or eating another can of tuna. For the purpose of this discussion we will talk about eating protein and not include carbohydrates or fats.
Is it plausible to just drink shakes for protein? Let’s look at the positives and negatives of only using protein shakes in your regular diet.
- Convenience – Let’s face it, protein shakes are the easiest form of protein to have other than buying pre-cooked meat or lunchmeat. But even then you often eat those meats with something else. Having a shake takes a whopping minute to mix the powder with milk or water in a glass.
- Vegan Friendly – Whey protein shakes are a great thing for people who do not eat meat or dairy. As vegans can have a harder time taking in the optimal amount of protein having shakes available is a nice bonus.
- Weight Loss – Many times protein shakes are included in weight loss diets because they are very filling and have little or no fat and excess calories are kept to a minimum.
- Workout Booster – Having a shake post-workout has been shown to speed up the recovery process and increase muscle gains by insuring that the proper building blocks are available to the body.
- Lots of Great Nutrients – Amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins can all be included in a shake depending on brand or manufacturer.
- Missing Some Nutrients – Of course not everything that you can get in meat, legumes, or other protein sources are available in a protein shake. Fiber, antioxidants, electrolytes, healthy fats, and minerals are often left out.
- Lack of Variety – Drinking 3 or 4 shakes every day would get pretty boring even if you added in extras to change the flavor.
The Bottom Line
The key word in the main statement of this discussion is ‘benefit‘. Obviously we have stated quite a few benefits of using protein shakes compared to eating. But does that make it better? When you consider the missing nutrients and boredom that will eventually set in from consuming hundreds of shakes every few months the decision seems clear; have your cake and eat it too!
Protein shakes should be used as part of a balanced diet but not as a way to replace foods. Having a couple of shakes a day, especially post-workout, can really help ensure that you get enough protein and other nutrients in your body without losing out on essential nutrients found in foods or creating a pattern of consumption that leads to boredom due to a lack of variety.