Every man and his dog has an opinion on protein shakes. While it should be common knowledge that protein shakes should only be used to supplement a diet/meal plan, the type of protein powder you use and the time of day you consume it can often be the subject of debate.
Nutritionist Max Lugavere – who has previously given his personal views on protein shakes, claiming “not everyone needs [them]” but admits they are a “low-calorie way of upping your protein intake” – recently sat down with Dr Gabrielle Lyon, a physician and expert in muscle tissue and protein, to get the inside scoop on how many scoops you should be having.
Appearing on an episode of Max’s podcast The Genius Life, (which is a fantastic one-hour biology lesson with plenty of insights) the host asked Dr Lyon her view on protein shakes, following a deeper conversation about food consumption – she says that backloading carbs (restricting the majority of your carb intake until later in the day) can help with deep sleep, and that protein intake should be distributed throughout the day – and how you need to be ensuring you consume the right amount of protein (1g per lb of ideal/goal body weight).
But, her views on protein shakes?
“Protein shakes can be very valuable, [but] they have to be taken at one time, you cannot sip it.”
“If you sip it, then you are [in the] sub-threshold of the amino acid content and this is the number one thing I see people do, they’ll say ‘I’m gonna have this protein shake’ and then they’ll sip it over an hour.”
“You have to drink it within half an hour. The goal for muscle health is to get the boldest amount of amino acids in the bloodstream at once.”
“Anything below that, you’re just getting calories.”
But what about the type of protein? There are numerous varieties available to us today, with the majority being animal/dairy-based or plant-based. Max has previously championed whey protein for its cleaner properties and “abundance of BCAAs.”
Dr Lyon is in agreement. “If you’re going to have egg [protein powder], just eat the egg. Whey has a great amino acid profile.”
“I do utilise the rice pea blend for those that are sensitive, but I’m not a super fan, because we don’t know what the long term effects are. It’s with pea, and we have no idea of its estrogen activity.”
“So I would say a great whey is fantastic.”
Max adds that whey protein digests incredibly fast, which Dr Lyon says it what you need. Max then asks if there’s then any issue with consuming whey in the middle of the day. “It’s not just a post-workout tool.”
Dr Lyon agrees, adding “when you exercise, your muscles are primed, so essentially you’re getting more nutrient delivery, so you could actually get away with less protein [in the post-workout window.”
“I won’t recommend anyone do that, but it is a possibility.”
The takeaway? Keep drinking your protein shakes, but drink them quickly for optimal results.