Should You Be Drinking a Protein Shake?

The nutrition supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.

That’s a lot of dollar bills, y’all.

A big chunk of that multi-billion dollars is spent on weight loss supplements.  Would you believe, though, that more than 42% of the nutrition supplement industry is comprised of protein powder?

Needless to say a lot of people are purchasing protein powder and, most likely, consuming it.

With so many people purchasing and consuming protein powder, we have to wonder, “Do you really need a protein supplement?”

Many people’s diets, including those of a lot of women, are deficient in protein.  Seems reasonable considering many people are still living on Planet Carb.  In one of my other articles, 5 Ways to Lose Fat, But Not Muscle, I talked about how many of our new clients come to us and when I first sit down with them, I quickly discover that their diet consists of carbohydrate-laden foods with some veggies thrown in here and there, and a HUGE deficiency in protein.

One of the first things I tell them they must begin doing is tracking their daily protein intake.  If they weigh 150 pounds, with 30% body fat, and they’d like to weigh 125 pounds, I advise them to shoot for 125 gram of high-quality protein each day.

First option is to get to that 125 gram mark via high-quality, whole food protein sources like grass fed beef, organic poultry, wild-caught fish, organic pork and organic eggs … and don’t forget – if the animal was fed a high quality diet, they will produce high-quality meat.  If they were fed hormones, antibiotics, grains and the sort … it will be a much lower quality meat.  Additionally, the fats from low-quality meat are NOT good for you.

Below are 2 reasons why you absolutely must supplement your daily diet with a high-quality protein powder, and 2 reasons why you may not need to.

You Need a Protein Supplement Because: Your Current Diet Is Deficient In Protein

When people have trouble meeting their personal “protein number” through whole foods, a high-quality whey, casein or whey-casein blend shake with 20 – 25+ grams is a great way to help get to that number, while also keeping your calorie and carbohydrate intake in check.

People who typically fall into this category are those who “hate meat”, are vegetarian or vegan.

FIT FACT: Our ancestors were carnivores (not vegetarians or vegans) and consumed mainly meat, which helped lead to the growth of our brains, and eventually led to the difference between humans becoming intellectually sophisticated and incredibly smart as a species … and remaining dumb as a rock, sitting around scratching our heads and asses like a monkey.

Basically, high-quality protein & healthy fats have enormous health benefits.

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You Need a Protein Supplement Because: You’re Too Busy For a Whole Foods Meal Post-Workout

If your schedule is so hectic that you find it almost impossible to make time to prepare all of your meals, a protein shake can help … especially if it’s after a strenuous resistance training workout.  We have many clients who come to our morning training sessions, completely kill the workout, and then have to head off to work.  We also have many clients who come to us right after work and have such a busy schedule that their post-workout meal isn’t usually the best option.

If you’re schedule is hectic and you don’t have time to prep your high-protein meats, fill a shaker with a couple scoops of high-quality protein and just add cold water after your workout.

Post-workout is actually your # 1 time to consume a whey protein shake, for two reasons.  First, your muscles are primed to soak up the protein so they can begin the repair and regenerate process and, second, whey protein is quickly digested and absorbed into your muscles.

SIDE NOTE: Not consuming adequate protein each day should be avoided at all costs … IF you expect to see results from your workouts.  New muscle is built through everything we do between workouts, not what we actually do in the workouts … though one cannot exist without the other.  When we workout, we break our muscle fibers down.  Once they’ve been broken down, what and how much we feed them will determine their growth.

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You Do NOT Need a Protein Supplement Because: You Get Plenty Through Your Diet

If you’re already consuming enough protein through the whole foods that you consume in your diet, and you love the taste of meat … then chances are you may not need to supplement with protein powder.  I wish I could say more about this, but it’s pretty straight forward.

The only downfall to getting post-workout protein via whole foods is getting an adequate amount of leucine – the essential amino acid that’s most responsible for muscle repair and growth.  One serving of any high quality protein powder will have at least 5 grams of BCAA’s, which should give you at least 2.5 grams of leucine.  Recent research has shown us the Leucine is one of the most important amino acids when it comes to building new, lean muscle.

A protein shake makes it quick and easy to get your protein requirement in grams, while also helping you get adequate leucine to support muscle growth.  With whole foods, sources of leucine are limited and one of the best sources – soy beans – is actually not all that good for you.

You Do NOT Need a Protein Supplement Because: Your Workouts Lack Effort & Intensity

If your workout routine is void of any type of strenuous resistance training.  Notice that I said “strenuous” … this is very important.  If your resistance training workout routine has you using 5 pound dumbbells or has you doing a rep range that doesn’t elicit a response from your muscles, chances are you’re really not breaking down muscle … which means there is no muscle to repair.

It all comes down to intensity, effort and determination when you’re working out.  If you’re not pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with each and every set, it’s time to start putting in some hard work!

So there it is … 2 reasons why you may need a protein supplement, and 2 reasons why you may not.

Each one of us is going to be different and, ultimately, what works for one person may not work for another.  Regardless of what foods you enjoy eating and what foods you can’t stand to eat – if your goals include fat loss or building lean muscle, meeting your daily protein requirements is an absolute must.


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