Protein Shakes: How do they help with your fitness goals?
Writer : Jessica Hua
Summertime is right around the corner and we are all striving towards getting that summer body for the season. Fitness influencers are all over the media pushing supplements that are supposed to help you get to that fitness goal you’ve been working towards - protein is one of the biggest. We hear the term “protein” being thrown around or see protein shakes on the menu of clean and healthy eating places but what exactly is protein and how do they affect our body? Let’s break down some of these terms.
What is protein?
Protein is made up of molecules composed from chains of amino acids that are found in all living organism. It can be found in foods we consume every day such as chicken, meat, dairy, or nuts. Our bodies need protein in order to keep their tissues and organs functioning.
When we talk about protein powder, these are powdered forms of protein that come from plants or milk. This is a nutritional supplement that is taken in addition to the protein you already consume in foods mentioned above. Whey protein is the most popular as it is the fastest absorbing. Whey is sourced from milk from a liquid substance that gets left behind when milk is used to make cheese. There are also alternatives such as soy, pea, or other plant-based protein powders for those who are looking for non-dairy, vegetarian, or vegan options.
Ok, so how does any of this have to do with looking good?
In order to look toned, have abs or grow biceps, you need to shape your muscle. To make this all easier to understand, let’s think of this as renovating a house (the house being your body). The first step is to tear down the old house. When you workout, muscle fibers are broken down. The fibers need to be repaired after through a process called muscle protein synthesis. Protein is the key here to help your body rebuild your muscles. When you take a protein shake, the extra protein intake helps your muscle to grow stronger and better than it was before, similar to rebuilding a new house to what you dream it to be.
You can focus on which parts of your body you want to change by choosing workouts that focus on specific muscle groups. With a house, you can pick a certain room to renovate, tear that room down and recreate it with a new design. Say you want to tone up your legs, you can focus on exercises like lunges or leg presses that targets the leg muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, etc).
Given this, you need to work out in order for this process to happen! Simply taking protein shakes will not get you anywhere since your muscle isn’t getting torn and repaired. After a workout, your body goes into an anabolic state. This is typically the hour right after your workout that the body is hungry for nutrients which makes it the optimum time to get that protein shake in to kickstart the recovery process! Stretching your muscles, eating a post-workout snack and drinking lots of water in addition to your protein shake are other great ways to help boost your muscle recovery right after a workout.