What are protein shakes?

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.

Why people may use them

People may choose protein shakes for a number of reasons, for example:

Muscle gain

A 2017 systematic review highlights that protein supplements can enhance muscle strength and size in healthy adults engaging in resistance exercise training.

Weight loss

Some research indicates high-protein diets may be beneficial for weight loss. A 2016 meta-analysis Trusted Source suggests these diets may help older adults lose fat and retain lean mass. Meanwhile, a 2019 analysis Trusted Source suggests a higher protein diet may help prevent weight regain after weight loss.

Lean muscle gain

A 2018 review Trusted Source 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 Trusted Source 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.

Risks and side effects

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements as strictly Trusted Source 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.

How and when to use

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 Trusted Source 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.

2 ready-to-drink protein shakes

1.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 Trusted Source 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 Trusted Source, a vitamin that aids energy metabolism, it also contains riboflavin Trusted Source, which may ease muscle soreness and promote recovery.

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