Marketing is a wonderful thing! Companies employ many tactics to help you think you need their products, as they are the best things for you. Supplement companies have nailed this, especially when it comes to protein shakes. They promise the world and we all believe they are going to be good for us before or after a workout, or really at any time of day, but do we really need them?
According to our dietary guidelines and the latest research, the average person needs 0.75-1g of protein per kg per day i.e. someone who weighs 70kg needs 53-70g protein per day. That’s about a small tub of yogurt, a glass of milk, 2 eggs and half and chicken breast to meet the upper end – not much protein right. So do we really need the extra protein from the shake? If you are an elite athlete and training large amounts every day of the week, then yes, more protein may be required, but sorry, most of us do not fit this category.
Additional protein is also required for some post surgical or sick patients in hospital to help accelerate the healing process, but for the rest of us, extra protein is not necessarily going to replenish our muscle stores. In fact, too much protein can actually be placing extra pressure on your kidneys – the organ responsible for processing and excreting protein.
For most people and even those special populations that require additional protein, needs can almost always be met by a healthy diet. A small tub of yogurt, a glass of milk, 2 eggs and half and chicken breast is approximately 70g protein. Make it a high protein yogurt, add some cheese and nuts in your morning and afternoon tea snacks and make your protein serve in the evening a little bigger and you could be close to 90-100g.
Many think a protein supplement is needed after exercise and it is considered an easy way to get in your post exercise protein snack, but this can be achieved through a glass of milk, good quality yogurt or in your next meal.
We are recognising that the less processed foods are, the better they are for our body, and hence the move away from processed carbohydrates. So why do you view consuming processed protein differently? If you do struggle to meet your protein needs through food, then a supplement can be beneficial. For the rest of us, less processed is best.