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If you have been to the gym recently, you have most likely heard the rattling of shaker bottles. Powders, bars, and other workout supplements have become integral components of a gym-goer’s regimen. You see this and you think to yourself, “I’d like to be cool, athletic, and drink protein shakes.” But where do you start? You don’t have to be a gym rat to enjoy a protein shake because they are easy to make and can even replace meals.

The first mistake that most people make is going out and buying the first protein powder tub they see. They fall for phrases like “cutting edge” or “soy-free,” but they are not too different from one another. Some people don’t even need protein powders because they can obtain sufficient protein from whole foods in their diet. If you are buying protein powder, you have to do some research so that you aren’t buying one with lots of chemicals and unhealthy protein that can increase fat storage. Whey protein powders should be avoided and you should opt for plant-based protein powders.

What Goes In A Protein Shake?
A protein shake doesn’t have to include protein powder; rather, a protein shake is a beverage that provides protein, minerals, and vitamins. Some shakes consist of powder and water, while others contain kale, raw almond butter, bananas, strawberries, and unsweetened almond milk. Both supply protein, but the addition of fresh fruit and vegetables gives you an array of nutrients that the powder may not have.

When To Use A Protein Shake:
Protein shakes can be used to fuel your workouts, but they can also be used as meal replacements. It is common to drink a protein-packed smoothie for breakfast because it is a great way to obtain a lot of nutrients early in the day. People drink protein shakes to increase protein intake if they are building muscle mass. Sometimes people want to gain weight, so they drink protein shakes. Alternatively, people who want to lose weight only drink protein smoothies and avoid carbs, dairy products, processed foods, and other foods that cause weight gain.

The Post Workout Shake:
You should consume food during the 45-minute window after your workout. A full meal isn’t necessary, but a protein shake may be just what you need. Eating a nutrient-dense protein shake after your workout helps your muscles recover because the protein helps to nourish the damaged muscle proteins. The post workout protein shake doesn’t have to be large, either. It can be a small shake, but make sure that it contains a lot of nutrients. This is where smoothies can be a great option.

We want to leave you with the fact that you do not need protein powders in your life. Remember that the best nutrients come from whole foods that are uncooked. Raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains will provide you with quality vitamins, minerals, protein, and more. If you choose to buy a powder, however, it is paramount to select the best plant-based option. Protein powders should only be used when they are healthy and convenient for you.