Myth Busting the Protein Shake

The second biggest fitness myth next to “lifting heavy makes women huge” is “protein shakes make you fat.” I hear this so often, but I wonder where is started because most everyone I see drinking protein shakes on the reg are in better than average shape. #justsayin

Let’s look at what actually makes us gain weight, in particular, fat. There are a number of possible causes that could be related to medical issues. The most obvious cause, however, is consuming more calories than you burn. Plain and simple. I suppose, at 200 calories a shake, if one were to simply add that to one’s diet without making any other changes it may lead to overeating. The protein shake by itself is not the reason for the weight gain.

Even though we’ve agreed to absolve the Protein Shake of any weight-gain related guilt, I bet you’re still asking why? “Why protein shakes? I heard too much protein causes liver damage. I get enough protein anyway.” Actually, if you’re serious about getting ”toned” and swapping fluff for definitive curves, you’re gonna want to increase that protein intake.

When looking at RDA numbers, it would appear that Americans get about twice as much protein as they need. The truth is that the RDA numbers are the bare minimum. There are lots of myths perpetuated by the general public that too much protein puts a strain on the liver, but no one has ever suffered liver failure due to too much protein. (see; alcohol)

Most fitness professionals agree the average intake is about half what we should be getting. The formula for determining daily grams of protein is .7-2x lbs Lean Body Mass, depending on the fitness goals of that individual. Protein consumption becomes even more important as we age because our ability to keep muscle, let alone build more, becomes increasingly difficult.

So what do the numbers look like? Take an average height female, 150 lbs, who exercises 3 x a week, not including cardio. At 25% body fat and a .7 per gram LBM recommendation, she’s looking at about 122 grams of protein daily. Calorically that works out to 488 calories. Assuming breakfast lunch and dinner and 1 snack, we’re looking at 30 gms per meal. That’s roughly  6oz of chicken breast or about 12 oz of lentils(which bring another 240 grams of carbs per serving) at each meal.

Now you’re saying, holy flying unicorns, how can I possibly eat that much meat? (or that many beans and lentils) Enter the protein shake. They go down quick and easy, and if your throw them in the blender with some ice you may as well be enjoying a milkshake.

Another added benefit to more protein is taking TEF(Thermic Effect of Feeding) into consideration. Thermal Effect of Feeding. While the body spends about 4 calories digesting each gram of fat and carbs, it spends at least 10 calories digesting each gram of protein. It’s possible to increase your daily burn by simply eating more protein.

Cheers to the protein shake, Bro.

Elizabeth Romsloe