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Protein Shakes

You work out, eat well and get proper rest – so why the need for a protein shake? Well the harder you train, the more important dietary protein is for making sure you recover sufficiently to grow and get the best possible results. Protein shakes are not a substitute for a poorly designed diet but help to provide a convenient and easy way to top up any shortfalls in your dietary intake and enable you to achieve your physique and sporting goals..

Who should use protein supplements?

Protein supplements are ideal for
  • Strength and power athletes
  • Athletes looking to lose bodyfat
  • Active people looking to manage their weight
  • Intense training individuals
  • Vegans and Vegetarians
Individuals involved in anaerobic sports, such as sprinting and weight training, seem to benefit most from higher protein intake. As these sports lead to breakdown of muscle tissue, the amino acids in protein are used to repair and rebuild tissue, allowing the athlete to gain strength and muscle mass. Endurance athletes also have a need for protein as amino acids are oxidised as energy during long-duration exercise. The bottom line is everyone needs protein but if you’re working out you need it in higher amounts and protein shakes make it easier to get it in the right amounts so you see results.

Situations for using protein shakes

Post Workout - Protein shakes are ideal for post workout as they are readily absorbed into muscle cells, meaning faster recovery from intense exercise. Prior to Workout – Having a protein supplement 45 minutes prior to a workout ‘tops up’ the amino acid pool so you’re less likely to use amino acids as a source of energy when glycogen is depleted meaning less chance of muscle loss. During Workout - For longer duration workouts you could sip a protein shake throughout the exercise session to lessen the chance of muscle catabolism. Prior to bed - Before bed is a key window for protein supplementation as you increase protein uptake and therefore ‘feed’ your muscles throughout the night and don’t risk losing lean mass.

Which is the best protein to take?

The short answer is that there is no ‘best’ protein to take, different proteins are tailored towards reaching different objectives. Nevertheless, the most frequently used criteria to measure the quality of a protein is BV or Biological Value. The BV of a protein is the amount of Nitrogen (body protein in grams) replaceable by 100 grams of protein in the adult diet. While many believe BV to be the best indicator of the growth capacity of a protein, there are a number of experts who believe that a high BV simply relates to how well digested and retained the protein is. One of the most commonly taken proteins is Whey protein. Whey protein has become a firm favourite of those seeking to gain muscle, improve their physique and become healthier. Whey protein has the highest BV of the commonly used proteins, being 104 as opposed to for example whole milk’s score of 91. As it contains the highest natural Branch Chain Amino Acid count found in nature, it is comprised of many of the essential and non-essential amino acids that you need both to build and maintain lean muscle. A common alternative to Whey protein is Casein. Casein releases its amino acids much more slowly than Whey protein, while both hold advantages depending on the situation and timing of their consumption. The Casein molecule is able to form a gel or clot in the stomach, which goes on to slowly provide a sustained release of amino acids into the bloodstream, for a number of hours. As the vast majority of muscle repair and regrowth happens at night, it is ideal to have a serving of Casein before you go to sleep. This way, the body’s natural muscle recovery process is aided throughout the night. If you’re vegetarian or vegan and don’t want for example beef protein, there are specially tailored proteins to suit you. Pea protein is extracted from the yellow pea (Psium Sativum) and has a typical Legume amino acid profile. It is often used in dairy alternatives such as yoghurt or cheese as it has the healthy properties of protein, whilst being completely unlinked and unrelated to any form of meat. While it is worth remembering that these three are only a few of the large variety of proteins on the market today, between them they do have a large number of benefits. All of these proteins can be taken as a shake, before, during or after a workout, or indeed throughout the day at a time to suit you.

How much protein should I take?

In general it is recommended that if you want to build muscle, you should take in one gram of protein per pound of body-weight. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should have a minimum of 180 grams of protein per day. This requirement may change due to the type of athlete you are, or the type of exercise that you do:

  • Endurance Athlete (moderate or heavy) – 1.2-1.4g per kilogram of bodyweight.
  • Strength & Power Athlete – 1.4-1.8g per kilogram of bodyweight.
  • Athlete on fat-loss programme – 1.6-2.0g per kilogram of bodyweight.
  • Athlete on weight-gain programme – 1.8-2.0g per kilogram of bodyweight.

While these figures are good general measures, we must realise that this is a hotly debated topic and there is no real limit as to how much protein we can or should ingest. On the other hand, it is worth noting that if you take large amounts of protein, it is a good idea to supplement your diet with both calcium and magnesium. This is because excessive amounts of protein has been proven to deplete your body’s natural stores of these two micro-nutrients.

How does protein help fat loss?

It is worth noting that proteins aid fat loss in a number of ways. Firstly, a study in Australia found that of 28 obese men who consumed four different drinks, those who consumed the beverage with 50 grams of whey protein had massively reduced levels of Ghrelin four hours later. Ghrelin is one of the hormones that tells your brain that you are hungry, which essentially means that proteins make the body feel fuller for longer. Another study has found that proteins increase the body’s metabolic rate. A high protein, Leucine rich diet, in combination with a low amount of carbohydrates ingested often lead to weight loss and a more effectively regulated blood sugar metabolism. Leucine helps avoid the loss of muscle mass as fat is lost, it does this by effectively working hand in hand with insulin, increasing its efficiency in the body’s muscle. This doesn’t simply just help maintain muscle mass, but also helps the muscles to use glucose as a fuel, in turn supporting healthy insulin function.

There have been a number of studies into the benefits of having a high protein breakfast. Eating a breakfast with a large amount of protein stimulates the liver, greatly increasing your metabolic rate; studies have shown that your metabolic rate could increase by 30 percent for up to 12 hours. While the belief that there is a positive correlation between protein ingestion and fat loss may not be sufficiently founded as of yet, there is certainly a claim to be made that a certain amount of protein, when ingested alongside a healthy diet and a proven exercise regime can have great effects on someone wanting to lose their fat quickly and safely.

Are there any other benefits of taking protein?

Essentially the answer is yes, there are a great number of reasons to take protein supplements. Regular takers of protein supplements often experience healthier, firmer and clearer skin, while those that eat a diet low in protein often have skin that both ages and sags much faster than usual. Another added benefit of periodically taking protein is healthier hair and nails. A protein supplement can help to encourage nail growth that is stronger and more resilient, while it can also help produce full, healthy and shiny hair.

Overall

Proteins and protein shakes are an incredibly versatile, powerful and consistent tool for a number of needs that someone might have. Whether your aim is to look healthier, be healthier, become stronger or become fitter – protein shakes will help you to reach and surpass your every expectation. Protein shakes can be taken by almost anyone and can be taken at any time of the day (within reason). These shakes can be taken before, during or after workouts for optimal results and all having marginally different positive effects on the body. There are a great number of protein types that you can use in your shake, tailored for everyone from omnivores to vegans, from professional athletes to the average Joe. Last but not least, one of the main reasons for drinking protein shakes is their taste. These days almost all proteins are available in a large number of amazing flavours, such as your standard chocolate, banana crème or even crazier flavours such as Jaffa Cakes. There is a tasty, wholesome and healthy protein shake for everyone and anyone, with a large number of them provided here by SNC Direct.


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