Fitness junkies – both athletes and non-athletes, are so addicted to the idea of sculpting the perfect body high on muscular mass and low on fatty mass that they take drastic steps on their diet plans by getting rid of most of the fat and carbohydrate content and switching to high protein and multi-nutrient shakes. Well of course, proteins are essential, but should you really be adding a big chunk of them through supplements?
Protein is vital to muscle development
More than 40% of our total body mass comprises of proteins, and more than 20% of our muscles are made up of proteins too. Among these proteins are those that are responsible for the contraction of muscles to bring about movement, and a number of others in the form of enzymes that produce the energy required to bring about these movements. Proteins are thus not only the building blocks of our muscles, but are also responsible for carrying out their functions.
However, athletes and fitness junkies consume an extra amount of protein in their diet for better exercise recovery. The extra protein helps them to repair muscular damage caused by overexerting muscle tissues, stimulating training-induced adaptations in muscle fibers (building new proteins required for energy production and force generation) and replenishing exhausted energy reserves.
Typically, the daily protein intake for adults above 18 is 0.8g per kg of their total weight. Athletes are recommended to take up to 1.4g per kilogram. However, they usually end up taking a lot more than that by consuming formula based protein shakes. Now that’s not really all that great.
Why you should avoid formula based protein shakes
As mentioned, protein is an absolute essential for developing muscles faster; there is of course a limit to its functionality as well. Here’s where fortified formula based protein shakes go wrong. What’s worse; the bottle’s never going to tell you that.
The average American diet that constitutes of a significant portion of meat is already high on dietary proteins – high enough to meet our daily requirements in fact. So adding extra to those values is not only a burden on one’s pocket, but is also less likely to show any positive effects. This excess of protein coming through a protein shake goes wrong in three ways:
It makes you fatter
The extra proteins coming through formula based protein shakes merely add a lot more calories. Since the excess proteins that you take in cannot be stored in the body, they are more likely to be converted into and stored as fat unless used up properly by exercising properly.
It damages your kidneys
Protein breakdown within the body produces an abundance of nitrogenous toxins and ketones that affect the functionality of vital organs especially the kidneys. These chemicals obviously have to be constantly removed through urination. As a result, the kidneys go into overdrive gradually losing their functionality while also putting you at risk of dehydration especially if you are sweating profusely during exercise as well.
It causes bone damage
The body’s natural acidic content increases as a result of an increased amount of sulphates and phosphates coming in with formula based protein shakes. In an attempt to normalize the body’s natural balance, the kidneys release these oxides in the form of acids along with nutrient calcium as a buffer. The calcium is obviously withdrawn from the bones rendering them weak and more prone to fractures and osteoporosis in the longer run. Not to mention, an excess of calcium, sulphates and phosphates passing through the kidneys also puts you at the risk of developing kidney stones.
And besides, who knows what other chemicals have been added to your average formula based protein shake; they’re notorious for being stuffed with steroids to boost your hormones anyway.
The perfect homemade protein shake
So why bother going through the trouble of adding extra protein through a protein shake when you can simply fix a homemade shake that is probably closer to your recommended daily intake and absolutely natural? So here it is.
- 1 banana
- 150g of low fat yogurt
- 100g of skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp chia seeds, and
- some cinnamon to taste
And just like you would make any smoothie, mix all of the ingredients in a blender and enjoy your protein shake that’s natural and just about right for your daily recommended intake.
This recipe is not only a source of better protein content, but also accounts for other essential nutrients needed for building healthy muscles and bones such as calcium and potassium. True, the same can be accomplished by a formula based protein shake, but there’s a very good chance that you might end up consuming more protein than you actually require rendering your efforts in developing good and healthy muscles useless. And besides, nothing beats the natural goodness.
About the Author: Arsalan Ahmed is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger.