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Do Protein Shakes Work?

Will Protein Shakes Help With This?

I was recently asked this question by a Dad-of-two who has embarked on a fitness journey like the “Prophet New-Inspired.”

He’s maxing out on his schmick gym membership with a trainer who partakes in Hyrox competitions so is all about the weights and the running. Hyrox, for those that don’t know, is the acceptable face of fitness competitions, or, put another way, fitness comps for those that find CrossFit too hard. [I joke, of course. Or do I?]

Moving on…when I quizzed this chap about his fitness goals, it was a fairly typical mix of losing body fat, building muscle, sharpening up the rig and the brain etc. I suggested that with all the new training, he might need to up the protein ante, given that protein is the “building blocks” for muscle, aiding both repair and growth of the muscles.

He said: do protein shakes work?

I said: yes, they can be quite helpful.

He said: even vegan protein?

I said: oh Lord. This is gonna be harder than I thought.

But I persisted, and here is the gist of what I told him, broken down in layman’s terms for the busy Dad on the run.

Why You Should Take Protein Supplements

1. Build & Maintain Muscle Mass

There’s a general acceptance that a man needs to be consuming somewhere in the region of 2 grams of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight in order to maintain and, ultimately, build muscle mass.

So if you weigh 80kg, you need at least 160g of protein per day.

This is quite hard to do if you have a regular job and parental responsibilities and can’t engage in meal-prep regularly.

A 200g portion of chicken yields about 46g of protein, so you’d need to consume a decent whack of this (or beef or fish etc) to get where you need to be. That’s a lot of cooking time.

A protein shake can serve up 30g of protein in a shake with water (more protein if you mix with milk) and takes around a minute to prepare.

2. If It’s Good Enough For Arnold

There’s an apocryphal story about Arnold Schwarzeneger, who, having just arrived in the US, was studying construction whilst bodybuilding after class.

Given his full-time college schedule and insanely long evening workouts, the only way he could get enough protein in was to mix up supplement shakes that he’d consume three times a day in his class, much to the amusement of his classmates.

Point being: if it was good enough for Arnold in the 1970’s, it’s still good enough for you.

3. Stops You Seeking Calories Elsewhere

Protein is widely considered to be more satiating than carbs or fat, so ensuring you fill up on protein (in whatever form), is likely to stop you satisfying any cravings with processed junk food that are a ‘dead’ use of calories.

Anything we consume, for the most part, should be providing us with the tools for muscle growth and repair, rather than ammo to sit around the gut in the form of visceral fat (which just loves older guys / Dads).

Things To Watch Out For

1. Would Your Dog Eat It?

Whilst protein supplements are overall net-positive, if you’re concerned with what chemicals you’re putting in your body, then you may want to consider a plant-based protein, free of some of these processed or synthetic ingredients. There’s a good chance if you left your standard protein powder outside overnight in a bowl, no animal would come anywhere near it.

The debate between plant-based protein efficacy versus Whey protein really depends on how much of a purist you are and how much you believe a protein supplement needs to be completely ‘complete.’ [Whey protein is a ‘complete’ protein, plant-based is marginally less so].

2. Bubble Guts

People have varying digestive reactions to protein supplements. 

Bad gas or the dreaded ‘bubble’ guts are frequently reported. I genuinely have no idea – maybe I’ve just been lucky with the brands I’ve used – but this could be to do with the increased lactose folks consume when mixing their shakes. In this case, I’d just switch to water, which is far less pleasant but could solve the issue.


I’ve been using protein supplements for over 15 years and have found them to be a useful tool to ensure I’m getting enough to fuel varied training sessions – Hiit, Crossfit, Running, Football.

They are not a panacea and, if you can get your ‘tein from natural sources, all the better, but there’s no downside to experimenting with shakes if you’re new to training and want to ensure you’re well placed for your next workout.




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