Let’s just go ahead and say it – Protein powder is to athletes what liquor is to alcoholics.
Just hear me out!
In both scenarios, everyone has their favorite brand, flavor and mixer. Veteran drinkers in both categories swear by their beverage of choice and consistently want to ‘convert’ other people into drinking what they drink. Gym rats will shake their water bottle while booze-hounds shake their rocks glass. Now, one of the two drinks is obviously a healthier choice but the common theme is that whether it’s a protein shake or a mixed drink – everyone thinks that the one they’re drinking is the best.
It’s very rare that you can convince a gym-goer to try a new protein powder. When you commit to drinking the stuff sometimes up to 3 times in a day – you’ve better love it. So most people will be skeptical when you try to explain to them that there is better stuff out there. Some people have restricted their diet so much that the protein shake feels like their only ‘treat’. When you try to take away someone’s ‘treat’ they are not going to be too happy about it.
If the average wannabe ‘Fitness Buff’ was, well, above average, they would take the time to read and do the research before they pumped the powder into their system. (And in any other life situation, putting ‘powder’ in our systems is very unhealthy.) Some of the modern day protein powders on the market can have upwards of 30 grams of sugar. 30 GRAMS! That is equivalent to 2 Swiss Cake Rolls. Sugar is sugar, I don’t care if it’s blended into a seemingly ‘healthy’ beverage. It can still be converted to fat in your body.
Another main fact that most of these ‘Shaker’s’ are ignorant to – they couldn’t tell you what exactly ‘whey protein’ is. ‘Whey’ is a byproduct of cheese. Let me break that statement down for you: ‘Whey protein’ – what your protein shake is essentially made of (including massive amounts of sugar) is what’s made/left over during the process of making cheese. How does that really sound appetizing? Not to mention, most people lack the enzymes needed to digest whey protein. They end up feeling bloated and gassy descriptions that would not make me visualize someone lean and buff.
Am I really trying to tell you to avoid protein shakes all together? Not necessarily. When used correctly, protein shakes can be an ‘okay’ substitution for a meal. You want to keep your metabolism going so if the only other alternative is to skip a meal I say drink up. Also, your body is better able to absorb supplements and vitamins when it is in liquid form. Drinking a protein shake post-workout is a great way to jump start your muscle recovery quickly. Protein in general also takes longer to break down within your body so you feel fuller, longer. There are plenty of fair to good benefits of drinking protein shakes but I would like to express the benefits of drinking a shake made with vegan protein powder.
Vegan protein powders are usually made with hemp protein, pea protein or brown rice protein. They are much easier to digest than whey protein powders and still offer the same benefits. You shouldn’t have an upset stomach and most of the time the sugars are kept to 1 gram or less. These powders use natural sweeteners or food extracts to give them flavor. My new-found favorite vegan protein powder is ‘Vega’. It’s available at Whole Foods, The Vitamin Shoppe or online at resellers like Amazon.