Ensure, a brand of "nutritional shakes," is designed to provide the body with a balanced source of nutrition. Ensure comes in several formulas, some of which are designed to support bone health, others support immune system activity and one of the formulas claims to help rebuild muscle and strength that is naturally lost with age. While some Ensure products do contain the same amount of protein as other protein shakes, they may not be the best way to meet protein needs.
Your body needs protein to survive and function properly, but most Americans eat more protein then they need. Most adults only need between 46 and 56 grams per day and a balanced diet should provide this. For most people, there is no harm in eating too much protein, but consuming high-protein shakes and foods may add unwanted calories to the diet without producing any health benefits.
Most protein shakes provide anywhere from 13 to 36 grams of protein per serving. The Ensure High Protein drink provides about 25 grams per bottle and the Ensure Plus, Ensure Clinical and Ensure Muscle Health all contain 13 grams of protein per bottle, so these four products contain the same amount of protein as many other shakes and powders. Other Ensure products, such as the Ensure Bone Health, Ensure Nutrition and Ensure Immune, only provide about 9 grams of protein per bottle.
While consuming high amount of protein through foods or products such as Ensure are not necessary or helpful for most healthy individuals, consuming Ensure may be beneficial if you have an illness that makes eating challenging, causes you to be underweight or interferes with the ability to digest food properly. If you fall into the above category, talk to your doctor about whether a protein shake, such as Ensure, would help you to gain weight and meet nutritional needs. Supplements and protein shakes should not be used in place of meals, but rather in combination with them to ensure proper nutrition when meals alone are not enough.
If you exercise hard, such as when training for a marathon, or participate in heavy weightlifting at least two times per week, you may benefit from consuming a protein shake right after your workout to help your body recover. A general guideline is that endurance athletes need an extra 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight daily and strength or power athletes need an extra 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight daily. However, most healthy and active adults can meet their protein needs through diet and do not need to supplement with shakes such as Ensure. In addition, a September 2007 article in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" states the the body absorbs food sources of protein better then protein through supplements. If you do use supplements to support your workout, look for products that contain both whey and casein as they are absorbed the best. Ensure products contain less then 0.05 percent of whey and no casein.