Are protein shakes actually worth it?

Wondering whether you need to drink protein shakes or rely on your diet for all your protein needs? Joel Enoch explains all

Are protein shakes worth it? Credit: Credit: Steve Cole Images  iStock / Getty Images Plus

 To fuel and recover from lighter exercise the body can get all it needs from a wholesome, balanced diet – even without animal protein. However, harder exercise can stress the body enough that it requires an immediate source of nutrients to recover and adapt effectively, and we know that the consumption of these will enable greater fitness gains by both accelerating recovery, allowing more training and by boosting muscular repair. 


Be aware though, that there are lots of very poor products on the market and you need to make sure that if you do take a protein supplement it’s appropriate.

Protein should be a whey or soy protein isolate. Avoid concentrates, hydrolystates or blends. Also, if you’ve performed aerobic work you want a shake that has additional carbs, but if you’re recovering from a shorter weight session, then protein is your priority. Note as well that protein doesn’t absorb quickly, so you need it little and often – ideally around 5-7 times a day.

While this is possible from food, protein shakes better assure quality, fast absorption and a known amount of protein, so can be an effective addition to training.

What’s the difference between whey and casein protein and when’s best to digest them?

Which protein products are best for triathlon recovery?

Protein: how much do you need?

Triathlon recovery: what to eat post-race

This article appeared in the February 2018 issue of 220 Triathlon

Highlights include: 25 ways to fire up your motivation; races still to do; how to kickstart your training in 8 weeks; how to build a winning triathlon body – whatever your age; and all the latest tri kit tested and reviewed, including road bike shoes, transition bags and 3 tri bikes from the USA


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