Protein shakes are a liquid mixture of protein and carbohydrates. They provide athletes and avid exercisers with a fast and easy post-workout protein supplement. The shakes can be purchased as a powder and mixed with water, milk, or soy milk. Protein shakes can also be purchased in a ready-made form.
Although not recommended as a meal replacement, protein shakes are somewhat similar to weight loss supplement shakes. The main difference is that they are used to help muscles recover from a strenuous workout. Most protein shakes contain a large amount of whey or milk protein. Many contain over 0.35 ounces (10 grams) per serving, with some as high as 0.78 ounces (22 grams).
Some avid exercisers may choose to drink protein shakes prior to their fitness routines, especially in the morning. These drinks can provide a small boost of energy without weighing the body down with a full calorie meal. Shakes that contain a small amount of carbohydrates can also help the muscles to perform more efficiently during the workout.
The main benefit of a protein shake is that it provides a protein supplement. Since athletes and avid exercisers need a higher amount of protein in their diets, it is a more convenient way to meet those needs. Sometimes it can be difficult to find food sources that contain enough protein, especially for vegetarians. The shakes help supplement a normal dietary intake.
Many individuals prefer to buy protein shakes in a powder form, which comes in flavored or unflavored varieties. Some of the more popular powder flavors include vanilla, strawberry, banana, and chocolate. This can be mixed with water or some form of milk in a blender and be ready to drink in under a minute. A typical serving is eight ounces. Some athletes add additional protein to the shake by mixing in egg whites.
There are also ready-to-drink forms of protein shakes available in a wide range of flavors. For instance, some brands don't just offer chocolate as a flavor, but milk chocolate and dark chocolate as well. Certain shakes provide a milk base and others provide a filtered water base. Calorie and fat content might vary between flavors, and some will contain a higher amount of protein with minimal to zero carbohydrates. A few brands balance the carbohydrate and protein ratio to cater to those individuals who want a high protein meal replacement.