The Protein shake debate

Note: also contains product reviews.

Both protein and protein shakes can be quite a polarising topic. Generally the UK diet, for most meat-eaters at least, consists of over the recommended amounts. According to healthy eating guidelines for the average (non-athlete) adult, protein should only make up 10-15% of your daily energy intake.

The majority of us therefore don’t need additional protein supplements if we are only keeping to the ACSM (and NHS) recommended levels of activity below:

  • Cardio: moderate 30min x 5 days / vigorous 20-60min x3 days per week
  • Muscular: approx. 20-60min of 2-4 sets at 8-12 reps x2-3 times per week

(Source: ACSM, 2011)

In addition, if you are following a training regime that looks something like the above in order to lose weight and are drinking shakes on top of your meals ‘just because you’re working out’, then you may not be seeing the kind of progress you’re hoping for. Two words. Unnecessary calories.

If you are doing a lot more than this however then it could be a good idea to assess your specific needs with a qualified dietician, nutritionist or doctor.

Personally I will have a shake occasionally when I’m suffering from a particularly bad case of DOMS (or expecting to hurt for the next 3 days), and usually at times when I haven’t meal-prepped in advance and don’t want to cook a full meal by the time I get home at 9-10pm. Unless you’re a body builder or an athlete being prescribed additional supplements however, this shouldn’t be the norm or a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.

There are two that I’m currently trying out, mainly because my current CrossFit schedule (I started towards the end of last year) on top of other training is pretty intense even with rest days, and in all honesty I’m trying everything with the exception of painkillers: Epsom salt baths, magnesium spray, Mio’s Workout Wonder, foam rolling, and lots of walking to get the blood circulating.

  1. ‘Good Hemp’ by Braham & Murray

A vegan-based protein and fibre drink with no diary (whey), gluten or nuts. I don’t have any food allergies; I’m just trying to move towards more plant-based options where possible.


The verdict?

It doesn’t taste great – I’ve been mixing mine up with Coconut milk and/or Almond milk to make it more palatable. It also has a very grainy, sawdust like texture that grates a bit on your throat, even when you have left it in your Nutribullet a little longer. Psychologically liquid meals (like soup) just don’t do it for me. One thing I have found with this though is that it does fill you up sufficiently without feeling bloated. Though my head still tells my stomach it wants (at least) a banana too.

Hemp protein

  1. ‘Impact Whey – Chocolate and Peanut Butter’ by MyProtein

This is pretty much your mainstream whey-based protein shake. I did my second ever shop via the MyProtein website the other day as their products are recommended by the likes of The Body Coach. A wide range of flavours are now available, and products are both affordable and of good quality.


The verdict?

I’m not a huge fan of whey-based products. Something about the taste that makes me feel a bit sick. But the peanut butter flavour option convinced to give it another chance. Still not fantastic with water, but not too shabby with Rude Health’s Coconut milk!

Disclaimer: At this point in time I am not a qualified dietician or nutritionist and the above content is predominantly based on my own personal experience with off-the-shelf products. No products or payments were received for content covered in this post.

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