How to Choose a Protein Drink

How to Choose a Protein Drink

As more people turn to bare bones diets that produce skinny bodies, it's easy to forget that we need calories for a reason. And protein is one of the most important sources of those calories. It repairs and develops your muscles, supports brain health, maintains sharp mental acuity, promotes fertility, and ensures a healthy pregnancy.

At minimum, women need about 46 grams of protein each day, with men requiring about 54 grams. Pregnant and lactating women need about 75 grams, and dedicated athletes may need much more. Talk to your doctor about your protein requirements. You may be surprised to learn that you're not getting enough—particularly if you're a vegetarian or vegan. But not all protein shakes are equally healthy. If you're going to shell out a bunch of cash and choke down a less-than-delicious shake, you might as well maximize your value by choosing the best possible protein shake for your needs.

Read the ingredients

It seems obvious that you should read the ingredients for anything you're about to put into your body, but when a shake promises good health or a longer life, it's tempting to take it at its word. Many protein shakes are chock full of sugar and carbs, which means you may be getting a shot of protein at the expense of your diet—and, if you're sensitive to these ingredients or on a specialized food program, your health.

Watch the calories

In a world where most people are trying to lose weight—or at least not to gain it—it's tempting to vilify calories. Calories are not the enemy, and you need them to survive. If you're already getting enough calories, though, you'll need to scale back to accommodate a new protein drink. And be wary of any protein drink that contains more than 200 calories for less than 20 grams of protein; it may not be worth it.

Consider the source

If you're a vegan or vegetarian, you'll want to ensure the drink's protein doesn't derive from animal sources. Many protein drinks get their protein from milk or egg protein, so if you're vegan, you may have to shop around for a specialized drink.

Screen for taste

Here's the dirty little secret about protein drinks that no one wants to admit: most are utterly disgusting. There's no shame in admitting it, and if you think your protein drink is going to be delicious, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

Powdery texture, unnatural flavors, and the cold hard reality that protein doesn't taste great all conspire to create chalky, excessively sweet, and odd-tasting beverages. Protein drinks can be expensive, so don't invest money in a full-sized tub until you're certain you can stomach the flavor. One person may love what another hates, so ask friends for recommendations, and shop around until you find something that works for your needs. 

CATEGORIES: Health, Diet, Nutrition, Drink, Protein Shake