The ubiquitous protein shake is an essential part of gym culture whether you’re gay or straight, but how vital is it that you slurp down a shake within minutes of your last rep? And just how good is the protein that you’re drinking compared the protein you’re eating? Is a protein shake something that only beefcake bodybuilders need, or is there a benefit to all of us gulping down a few extra grams of protein while we stretch?

What is a protein shake?

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There are, quite possibly, MILLIONS of different types of protein powder available, each boasting to be the best, most effective, or most sciencey. Protein powders get their protein from various sources, with the most popular probably being whey protein.

Whey protein comes from milk and is produced during the cheese-making process. Remember Miss Tuffet eating her curds and whey? Well, whey is the liquid that separates from the curds and sounds seriously disgusting when you think of it like that. It’s high in protein but does, of course, contain lactose which some people have difficulty digesting. (Note: whey protein isolate contains very little because most of the lactose is lost during processing).

There’s also casein protein, egg protein, and pea protein for the vegans out there, each with its own pros and cons.

Is it better to get protein from food?

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In a word, yes. Not just because it’s a more natural and complete source of protein, but it pretty much always tastes nicer than your protein shake. However, it’s not always possible to get the amount of protein you need just from your food, especially if you have any dietary restrictions (my fellow vegetarians will know how helpful the 30g of protein in a shake can be towards reaching your daily macronutrient goals). Protein powder is a supplement, in that it should supplement a healthy diet, not replace one.

How much protein do I need?

If you’re just looking to keep yourself alive and healthy, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of protein is between 0.8g – 1g of protein per kg of body weight. Once you start weight training in an effort to build muscle you’ll want to up that to anywhere between 1.4g – 2g of protein per kg of body weight each day.

Try to spread your protein intake out throughout the day. There’s still a fair amount of debate as to how much protein the human body can digest in a single sitting, with the current estimate sitting at around 30g – 40g. So aim to consume approximately that much per meal in order to keep on track.

Protein Calculator

Are weight loss protein shakes bullshit?

Well, they’re not total BS, but most of the marketing around them is. They’re often touted as a “meal replacement” which isn’t a sustainable method of weight loss and so isn’t especially effective. And while protein has the effect of making you feel fuller for longer, it’s no substitute for real food.

Protein shakes are often low in calories, but they do contain them. So if you’re chucking down a protein shake as a snack in an attempt to lose weight, you’re probably drinking about 100 calories that you didn’t really need.

Do I need to drink a protein shake 30 minutes after a workout?

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This was one of those popular gym myths that seem to have stuck around. This may have come from personal trainers and athletes who train multiple times a day, for whom speedy recovery is vital. Downing a protein shake as soon as possible helps the body repair and replenish quicker and prepare for their next session.

Side-effects of protein shakes

As far as supplements go, protein shakes are fairly harmless, however, if you go overboard there can be some side-effects. For example, many protein powders use artificial sweeteners to make them taste nice without adding carbs and calories. These have been known to have a laxative effect if consumed in high quantities. So maybe don’t drink a protein shake just before you bottom.

Gay Fitness Challenge 2018

If you need a little help with your training and nutrition, including how much protein you’re getting, why not sign up for our next Gay Fitness Challenge? Work towards your own goal, with a training and nutrition program specially designed for you. You can train alone or take part in gay group exercise classes, and you’ll have the support of fellow gay guys who are going through the same thing you are.

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