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What’s wrong with relying on protein shakes alone?

+8 votes
I have a busy job and although I have no problems getting to the gym, I often struggle getting enough protein down me. So I tend to rely on protein shakes a lot as I simply don’t have to prepare or eat enough food to git my protein targets.

I know many say you shouldn’t rely soley on protein drinks as your main source of protein but can someone please explain why this is bad?

I don’t think anyone is arguing that the quality of the protein of whey is inferior to animal protein so why aren’t shakes alone good enough?
asked Nov 21, 2012 in Diet & Nutrition by Richie Rookie (210 points)  
33% Accept Rate
  

3 Answers

+7 votes
 
Best answer
Yes you could hit your numerical protein targets by taking shakes only as your main protein source. However you’d be excluding a whole host of vitamin\mineral, fibre, electrolytes, antioxidants, healthy fats and countless other trace elements from your diet. The bio diversity of protein from shakes doesn’t come close to comparing with the diversity you get from food based protein.

Any supplement should be just that, something that ‘supplements’ your diet, not forms the base of your diet. Don’t get into the habit of relying on protein shakes, it’s easily done and takes effort to break. I only use shakes now for my post workout drink as it’s quick to prepare, gulped down in seconds and rapidly absorbed into my system. Other than that, protein shakes are a last resort when I’ve been caught short and it’s either that or fresh air.

Yes it will take more effort preparing your meals but that’s the key preparation, otherwise you will lend up reaching for the blender. Prepare you meals at least the day before and you’ll find you rarely have to rely on protein shakes.

If you do find yourself caught short and it’s a protein shake or nothing then ‘beef it up’ with some whole foods such as fruit, nuts, oats etc. At least then you’ll be eating something that is more nutritionally similar to food.

The old saying, “food first” couldn’t be more apt when it comes to bodybuilding nutrition.
answered Nov 21, 2012 by RobConnor Iron Lifting God (4,930 points)  
selected Dec 4, 2012 by Richie
+4 votes
Protein shakes can be great to fill your Protein daily quota, even some of your vitamin needs since some of them have supplemental vitamins added.

But many essential antioxidants for example are lacking, and those can only be taken from food alone.

Don't forget the fiber, I doubt there are protein shakes enriched with fiber,and even if there is, it won't be near the recommended intake.

Besides, animal meat or egg, contains some saturated fat or Omega 3 (in case of fish) which are also essential, YES even saturated fat is essential in its own way.

So using one or two protein shake at most per day is possible, but most of your intake would make your diet lacking.
answered Dec 3, 2012 by georgef Iron Addict (1,395 points)  
+3 votes
You're right in thinking that whey protein is one of the most easily absorbed and processed proteins available, and protein shakes are definitely the most cost effective way of making sure you get your protein requirement - the only issue is getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Muscle growth, as well as everyday functioning health, is a product of a staggering array of chemical compounds - many supplements add assorted compounds and vitamins to their products, but more often than not, they're only their as a marketing tool. Even taking a daily vitamin supplement is still going to leave holes in your nutrition that wouldn't be there if you ate a balanced meal, taking in a regular variety of foodstuffs!

In short, missing the odd meal won't make a difference, but if you're looking to keep yourself in top physical shape, as well as maximise muscle gain, you need the balanced and comprehensive nutrition of eating food, and eating well!
answered Nov 21, 2012 by RyanLaw Iron Addict (1,280 points)  
edited Nov 21, 2012 by RobConnor
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