Do protein shakes, protein supplments & protein bars work?

Do protein shakes, protein bars and protein supplements? Protien shakes, protein bars and other protein supplements are used by many athletes and members of the public looking to gain muscle strength, muscle tone and a lean physique.

However, do these dietary aids and protein supplements work or do they simply place excess stress on the kidneys. In this article we aim to review all that there is to know about protein shakes, protein bars and protein supplements as a whole.

The basic principle behind protein shakes, bars and supplements is that they contain a rich source of amino acids, which are classed as the building blocks for muscle tissue - hence many people think the more protein they ingest, the more muscle they can develop.

Protein drink, bar and supplement industry

Over the based few years a huge industry has developed around the creation and supply of protein shakes, protein bars and protein supplements to the mass market.

It wasn't that long ago that protein shakes and supplements, like many other forms of dietarty supplements were seen as merely supplements for pro athletes or bodybuilders to use.

However, as gym use developed (over 7 million UK residents hold gym membership - 2009) so to has the idea that protein shakes and supplements should be used by those people who seek a Men's Health magazine or Women's Fitness Magazine cover model body.

Protein shakes

Protein shakes are also commonly known as protein drinks. They are typically protein in powdered form that when blended with water or milk create a protein shake that can contain a protein fix of 15 - 40g of protein in a single sitting. These protein shakes can come in a variety of flavors - favourites being strawberry, chocolate or vanilla.

Athletes and gym users are often encouraged to drink protein shakes both before and after training, giving the body and muscles a source of protein that is rich in amino acids and a source that is readily avaiable pre workout as fuel and post workout as a way to quickly repair muscle damage and muscle tears.

Favourite sources of protein for protein shakes include egg-based, soy-based casein (or milk-based) and whey based protein - whey protein*  being the new standard bearer for many protein shakes and supplements.

* Whey protein is the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production.

Useful link - Buy protein shakes and protein drinks

Protein bars

Protein bars typically do the same job as protein shakes but they are in the solid form of a chocolate or nut bar. Typically protein bars gram for gram contain more calories than protein shakes and protein drinks as they also contain sugars and fats to make the bar more palatable, something, it could be argued, that many protein shakes and protein dinks don't worry about.

The advantage that protein bars hold over protein shakes is that protein bars can be thrown into a gym bag and eaten post workout easily whereas protein shakes will require the transportation of protein powder as well as a protein shaker to blend the protein well into water or milk.

Useful link - Buy protein bars

Protein supplements

Protein supplements are simply the collective term for protein shakes, protein drinks and protein bars. That said many people often mistake protein supplements and weigh gain supplements and creatine supplements - many of which may aid muscle deveopment but are clearly not protein supplements in the tradional sense - protein powder mix extracted from milk, eggs, soy or whey.

Useful link - Buy protein supplements

So, do you need protein shakes or protein bars?

Many people think you should drink protein shakes and eat protein bars if you exercise regularly. they argue that the essential branched amino acids contained in protein shakes and protein bars held the muscles repair themselves during post workout rest. All of the sources used in the development of protein powder and protein shakes - eggs, milk, soy and whey - are excellent sources of ALL 23 essental amino acids.

However, others point to the fact that people who do or don't exercise should simply eat a diet rich in lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, pulses and dairy products to obtain all the protein needed to aid muscle damage and muscle tears.

There is also an argument that suggests humans can only digest 0.75 - 1.5 grams of protein per kg of lean tissue, which equates to roughly 60 grams - 120 grams of protein for someone with 80 kg of lean tissue (muscle and vital ogran weight). Any more than that and research shows that the body will either store the excess protein as fat or rid the body of any excess protein through urine via the kidneys - hence why eating far in excess of your daily requirement of protein could over work and stress the kidneys, which over time could lead to kidney damage or failure.

At this figure people could easily digest all the protein they would need per day by eating a chicken breast, a pint of milk, a handful of nuts and 2 or 3 eggs a day - not to mention the protein acquired from carbohydrate dominant foods like bread, rice and pasta - without the need to purchase protein shakes, protein bars and other protein supplements.

Useful link - How much dietary protein do I need?

Protein shakes and protein bars - Conclusion

As a rule of thumb aim to eat a good source of protein (up to 30 grams in any one sitting) every 3 hours. If your daily rountine doesn't allow you to readily obtain protein sources in the form of meat, fish, eggs etc then purchasing and using protein shakes and protein bars will be of benefit.

Useful link - Buy protein shakes, protein bars and protein supplements

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