You might think you need to consume extra protein when you are building muscle, but the typical American diet provides more than enough protein for your needs. Protein shakes that promise high intakes of protein may cause some effects you do not need. Rather than looking to protein shakes, you should eat a balanced diet that helps meet your needs.
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When you engage in intense muscle building, you may need between 1.4 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The normal requirements for adults are 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Be sure to convert your weight from pounds to kilograms by dividing your weight by 2.2; otherwise, you will receive a very large number. The American Dietetic Association does not encourage weight trainers to consume more protein than 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight because it does not seem to carry any added benefit. In addition, excess protein provides excess calories, which can cause weight and fat gain.
Protein Shake Contaminants
Consumer Reports found that protein shakes carried more than just large amounts of protein to your muscles; they also came with large amounts of heavy metals, contaminants in your body that may cause cancer or reproductive risks. The report also shows that if consumers drank the recommended three servings per day of protein shakes, they would exceed the safe levels of the contaminants. The report's authors suggest finding different sources of protein other than shakes that will not potentially expose you to toxic metals.
Excesses of Protein Shakes
Diets high in protein are often high in saturated fat, according to the American Heart Association. This increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related chronic conditions. In addition, if you rely on protein shakes as meal replacements as well as for intense protein loading after exercise, you may become deficient in vitamins and minerals that other foods provide, such as vitamin C. Protein shakes are also more expensive than eating less-processed foods. One less tangible impact of protein shakes is the cost of the shakes over time.
Other Protein Sources
You can get protein from lean cuts of meat, lean fish, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, certain vegetables, nuts, legumes, eggs and soy products, according to the American Dietetic Association. If you feel you need to increase your protein intake more than your normal intake, be sure to eat protein-rich foods at every meal and for every snack. Drink milk or soy milk instead of soft drinks or coffee, and eat low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or nuts as a snack before you exercise. Be sure to also eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables to get the other vitamins and minerals you need and to provide carbohydrates for your body to use during exercise.