Are you trying to lose weight or simply trying to eat healthier to maintain your weight? Today’s busy lifestyle often demands convenient on-the-go options, especially when people are increasing the amount of protein they are taking in as part of their diet. Protein shakes can be a great option to optimize one’s intake of protein, but buyer beware, not all protein shakes are created equal and can even sabotage health and weight loss goals.
First, why is it important to take in more protein for weight loss and maintenance? Protein lowers levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone that can make you hungrier and drive cravings. Protein boosts appetite-reducing hormones and promotes greater satiety as it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. Studies have shown that increasing the amount of protein in the diet will lead to reduced body fat, resulting in weight loss, and will increase lean muscle mass without the restriction of calories or other macronutrients. The more lean muscle mass an individual has, the more body fat and calories can be burned as muscle is your metabolism.
High-quality proteins that are complete in branch chain amino acids are necessary to build lean, strong muscle. These proteins can be from whole food sources like meat, dairy, other animal products, and whey protein powder, as well as plant sources, like soy, in their whole or powder form. While it’s best to consume protein in its whole food form, that’s not always possible due to busy schedules. Sometimes we need a quick and portable way to replace a meal or supplement our overall protein requirement, and many look to protein shakes to fill this need.
The consumer market is full of pre-mixed shakes and protein powders, and shake shops are popping up on every street corner. Pre-mixed shakes are the most convenient as no shaker bottle or mixer is required. However, these pre-mixed shakes can also contain artificial chemicals, sweeteners, or added sugars that diminish the “health” factor we think we are gaining from them. This rings true for some protein powders as well. It is essential to evaluate the nutrition facts label, not only for its calorie, carbohydrate, added sugar, and protein information but for its ingredients as well.
Shake shops are just as convenient as fast-food restaurants, but most use inferior quality protein powders and load their shakes with sugar-sweetened fruit, artificially sweetened drink mixes, and pudding powders. Like label reading, it is vital to ask the shake shop about its ingredients. If they can’t or won’t tell you specifically what they are putting in your shake, consider spending your money elsewhere because the quality of that shake may be no better than eating at a fast-food establishment.
The most significant consideration we need to make when choosing a quality protein shake is the kind of protein in it. Most commonly, pre-mixed shakes or protein powders are made from either whey or soy protein, and most shake shops in Fargo and West Fargo use soy protein. Both types of proteins have been widely researched for their benefits to health and effects on weight. Whey protein is the victor over soy protein in these studies time and time again.
Whey protein is derived from milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making. Whey protein is a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids needed to build or maintain lean muscle mass. Even though whey is derived from milk, it is low in lactose, a sugar found in milk, especially if it is whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate is further processed from its concentrated form, which removes more of the fat and lactose and is usually 90 percent protein. This makes whey protein tolerable for people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Whey protein isolate is more rapidly absorbed in the body, which leads to feeling full quicker so people will be less likely to overeat. It also contains more of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which promote muscle protein synthesis for muscle growth, enhances exercise performance and regulates blood sugar levels. All these factors are crucial for burning fat, which leads to weight loss or weight maintenance.
Soy protein isolate powder is made from defatted soybean flakes that have been washed to remove the sugars and dietary fiber. They’re then dehydrated and turned into a powder. Soy protein is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids, like whey protein. However, soy has less BCAAs, especially leucine, which is the key ingredient for muscle building and fat burning. A review of 40 studies evaluating soy protein’s effect on weight, waist circumference, and fat mass found no significant positive impact. In contrast, studies evaluating whey protein isolate have shown proven results for improved body composition. There is also some concern that soy intake may affect a person’s thyroid function and disrupt natural hormone levels, estrogen and testosterone, in the body.
So if you are in the market for a high-quality protein powder or shake, choose a whey protein-based shake or powder with less than 10 grams net carbohydrate and 20g or more protein. If you are looking for the best quality shake shop in Fargo and West Fargo, stop in and try a shake at Strong Pour Nutrition Bar located in West Fargo. Strong Pour uses 100% grass-fed whey protein with no added sugars or hormones and is non-GMO. Each shake has 24g protein or more and is less than 10g net carb. Only real food ingredients are used to build the shakes versus artificial drink mixes and pudding powders. You deserve the best in health and wellness, why not search out the best in our area!