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Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well!

A healthy dose of my diet, nutrition and lifestyle hacks to improve your health. Every bite counts!

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The lowdown on high protein shakes

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

With claims from shredding weight to boosting beauty, body cleansing and building muscle, there’s a protein powder to suit every body. Including yours.


But are protein shakes good for you? Are they healthy? And does extra protein help weight loss?



Sorry to break it to you, but…


While sales of protein and other shake products go through the roof, there’s no science to support any real benefit for extra dietary protein, and in fact, the opposite might be true…


When it comes to weight loss...


A 6 year study of the dietary behaviours of over 38,000 men and women concluded that high protein low fibre diets were most strongly associated with increased BMI (Spencer et al., 2003).


A high BMI, (not always, but mostly), correlates to overweight and obesity, both major risk factors for chronic disease. That goes some way to answering the question of weight and a little on the health too.


So let's look at health next.


Protein intakes higher than the recommended daily amount are linked to:

  • Bone disorders and calcium loss

  • Poor kidney function and increased risk of kidney stone formation

  • Disorders in liver function

  • Increased risk for some cancers

  • Greater risk of coronary artery disease

  • Increased age-related illness

(Delimaris, 2013, Kitada et al., 2019)


And yet, protein is absolutely vital for life.


Here's a list of jobs protein has in your body, just so we're clear how important it is.


Protein is essential for:

  • Structure of muscle, collagen, tissue, organs and skin

  • Transport of nutrients, energy and oxygen etc. where needed

  • Production of hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes

  • Creation of antibodies for the immune system

  • Replication and expression of DNA and RNA

There's no question that we need protein. Just perhaps not as much as we're being sold.

Before we move onto the business of shakes, let's look at how much protein you actually need and when...


For adults, the official RDI is 0.75gm per kg of body weight (Aust. Govt., 2020). For an average woman weighing around 65kg, that’s about 48gm/day.


But we need different amounts of protein at different life stages too.


Adolescence requires far more protein due to the intense growth and cell replication at this time.


Menopause and peri-menopause is another time of increased need. This is a time we need to preserve muscle and move away from carbohydrate reliance, so protein needs increase. But not excessively. (we address this in my menopause program).


So why are so many people chowing down and spending up on protein powders?


Good question.


Great marketing.


The age old best sellers: Weight loss. Strength. Health. Beauty.

Here’s a secret: If you replace enough meals with a low-calorie shake, you’ll probably lose weight, but that doesn't equate to strength, health or beauty.

What goes IN the shake, aside from protein is more important for those goals.


When it comes to protein shakes and slimming shakes, not all are created equal.


I've seen shakes with a nice mix of wholesome ingredients and superfoods without additives or preservatives. They can be a handy option.


I've seen many others with fillers and sugars, processed fats, colours, preservatives and flavourings. One popular ‘slimming’ shake I looked at had 6 different preservatives, 2 types of processed sugar syrup, plus salt and canola oil in the ingredients list.


Interestingly I've had a few clients with gut issues who have shown me their protein shake only to discover they are reacting to ingredients in the powder (whey protein and pea protein are common culprits).


Still, I'm a shake lover, especially at breakfast.


They're quick and easy and a great way to pack nutrients into your day. If you're having one for breakfast you MUST get some protein into it. And the best way to get any nutrient is from whole food sources.


Here are my tips for making your own healthy protein shake:



You can't go past a big green smoothie.


This will give some of what 95% of Australian adults really need: Vegetables (not protein!)


I use baby spinach. 1 cup.*


I mostly use a banana for taste and smoothness.


For protein, I add 2 TBSP of some type of whole food protein; often chia or hemp seeds.


If you eat dairy, 2 TBSP of natural yoghurt adds a good whack of protein, calcium AND probiotics to your smoothie in one hit.


Nut butters are amazing protein add-ins. Tahini is one of my faves too.


Watch the serving sizes and calories of your concoctions if you're trying to lose weight.


Keep an eye here for my favourite protein smoothie recipes, coming up next!


Meanwhile, if you'd like some help understanding your personal diet and nutrition needs, please reach out here for a consult.



*If you have a thyroid condition, this is not for you. Ask me for more info if need.





REFERENCES USED IN THIS ARTICLE:


(Aust. Govt., 2020). Retrieved 19 August 2020, from https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients.


Delimaris, I. (2013). Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake above the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Adults. ISRN Nutrition, 2013, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.5402/2013/126929


Kitada, M., Ogura, Y., Monno, I., & Koya, D. (2019). The impact of dietary protein intake on longevity and metabolic health. Ebiomedicine, 43, 632-640. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.04.005


Ricker, M., & Haas, W. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review. Nutrition In Clinical Practice, 32(3), 318-325. https://doi.org/10.1177/0884533617700353


Spencer, E., Appleby, P., Davey, G., & Key, T. (2003). Diet and body mass index in 38 000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. International Journal Of Obesity, 27(6), 728-734. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0802300

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