If you’re reading this article you’re most likely a girl and probably starting to consider taking protein… so the question is where the heck do you start? In this article we’ll bust some of those fitness myths and also tell you the best protein shakes for women!
So if you’re going to start taking protein shakes there must be some special product developed specifically for women right? I mean there’s no way you should be consuming the same type of protein as those big bulky muscly men in the gym right?
Well think again ladies! Just because guys seem to get big and bulky from protein doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to turn into a female version of the hulk anytime soon. A massive myth that seems to exist among women… STILL… after years of explaining, is that protein will make you muscley, bulky or fat… WRONG!!!!
By introducing high levels of protein into your diet this will actually help you to achieve the slim and toned figure you’ve always dreamed of. So let’s start by telling you how its physically impossible to suddenly become a bodybuilder overnight.
Women and Protein: The Facts
So let’s start with the basics – how does the body actually make muscle? The growth of muscle depends on a lot of hormones and metabolic processes that occur in the body, but in simple terms there are two main hormones that are important for muscle growth: testosterone and the growth hormone. Testosterone is what you might of heard of as “the male hormone”, and in men this hormone plays a key role in the development of the reproductive system and allowing the growth of muscle, bone and hair. The second hormone that comes into play is the growth hormone. The, growth hormone acts to increase muscle growth and increase cell reproduction to create an anabolic- or muscle building, environment in the body.
So what might be surprising to hear, is that women actually produce greater amounts of the growth hormone than men! In women the main hormone produced is estrogen- but as levels of estrogen increase in the body – so do levels of the growth hormone… so how on earth can we not build muscle in the same way as men?
Because girls… we DONT produce enough testosterone! Without testosterone, there’s only so much muscle that can be synthesised by the growth hormone. I know what you’re thinking… your thinking well if that’s the case what about those women who are muscley! Well these women will be sticking to strict specific diets and extremely intense workouts and training regimes, that are designed to optimise the production of the growth hormone and muscle growth… trust me it’s extremely hard work to increase muscle mass for females it takes A LOT of time and hard work… not something that will happen from just increasing protein.
The Benefits of Protein for Women
Now that we’ve got that myth well and truly busted… why should you be taking protein shakes? Increasing protein in the diet has a range of benefits for the body- especially if your looking to improve your physique and general well being.
For a start- protein is the building blocks for bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood and one of the essential macronutrients that we need to eat in order to even function! Okay, okay but why should you increase your protein intake and start taking shakes? Well increasing protein intake alone requires a lot of food- which can be expensive and time consuming- not exactly ideal if you have classes or work! But a handy protein shake can be consumed in minutes and is perfect to fill you up. Check out some of the other benefits:
- Lose Weight and burn Fat
Top of the list of protein benefits is that increasing protein in the diet can actually help you to lose fat! So forget constantly being starved and living off a lettuce leaf! Tons of scientific studies have shown that protein can be used as an effect method to lose weight and improve body composition by decreasing body fat, including those by Fredstedt et al (2008) and Marshall (2004).
- Stay Fuller for Longer
You see those stick thin girls and you think my god what it would be like to be them… well in a few cases… “hungry” is what it would feel like! But it really doesn’t need to be like that! You can achieve a healthy slim physique and feel fuller for longer! Protein is known to be the most filling macronutrient, so consuming lean sources such as chicken breast and protein shakes, that are low in fat, will actually help you to eat less and make you feel fuller for longer!
- Improve your Health
I’m pretty sure the top 2 reasons will have been enough to help show you the benefits of protein, but if not, the most important benefit that increasing protein in your diet can have is to improve your health and well being! Diets high in protein have been shown in scientific studies to decrease blood pressure, decrease harmful cholesterol and enhance the function of our immune systems! This means consuming more protein can actually act to prevent chronic diseases such as cardio vascular disease!
The Protein Shake Guide
Okay so nooowwwww you want to try protein for real… but the original question still remains… which one!? Well that really depends on your workouts and your goals!
If you’re looking for a fast acting protein shake then whey protein is the one for you. Whey protein is a by product from cheese making and one of the proteins we find in milk! Whey protein contains high levels of branch chain amino acids that are essential for helping our muscle to recover and repair faster. If you are looking for a low carb, low fat way to increase protein or increase recovery after a workout- whey protein is the one for you. What’s more out whey protein comes in some amazing flavours including my personal favourites- chocolate nut and cinnamon roll. Whey protein can be incorporated into loads of different things from shakes with water and milk to greek yogurt and even in baking!
Casein protein is the other main protein that is found in milk… but unlike whey protein, casein is slow releasing. This means it can help maintain a slow release of protein throughout the day helping to keep you full for longer and increase your metabolism!
Soy and Vegan Proteins
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan all is not lost! We provide a range of vegan proteins including soy protein that contains up to 90% protein! In our vegan blend, we use proteins such as hemp protein, soy protein, brown rice protein and pea protein, so you can get a healthy supply of protein.
When To Take and How to Make
Protein shakes can be taken at any point through the day to increase protein intake… but they must be incorporated into your amount of daily calories! Consuming protein shakes isn’t just a free drink to add to all your food… even though its low in fat protein is still a source of calories, and consuming over the amount of calories your body needs can still lead to weight gain…. This would happen even if you only ate fruit and vegetables! So based on your size and weight decide how many calories your body needs… never go below 1500! Doing this will only slow your metabolism right down and stop your progress!
If you’re looking for key times to consume protein shakes these are pre workout and post workout.
Before a workout your body needs some fuel! So consuming a protein shake 30 minutes to an hour before training is one of the best times to have your protein shakes. By supply your body with a good supply of protein you can help your muscles when working out and fuel your body. A pre workout shake should consume a scoop of protein, some low fat milk or yogurt and even some fruit like a banana.
So if you think you need a shake before a workout… you definitely need one after! Think about it… during a workout your working hard and your muscles are under a lot of stress. By the end your muscles are weak, tired with no energy. But by consuming a post workout protein shake you can replenish your muscle stores and help your muscles to repair faster- meaning you feel less pain the next day. After a workout is also when your metabolism reaches a peak!
For a post workout shake the perfect protein to use is whey protein because it is fast acting. The shake should also contain a good source of simple and complex carbohydrates such as fruit and rolled oats. You might even want to add some peanut butter but try and limit the fat in your post workout shake.
A Take Home Message
So hopefully now you know protein will not turn you into the hulk! And a little bit about the best shake and protein supplement for you. By swapping an afternoon snack for a protein shake you can help rev up your metabolism and be one step closer to burning fat and getting your ideal figure.