How Does Protein Powder Work?

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Protein shakers have become a staple of gyms, but what’s actually in there?

The first time I saw a protein shaker, I thought it was some kind of wacky futuristic water bottle. Don’t ask me what the metal ball thing in the middle was supposed to be for. These days, I understand much better, at least as far as the bottles themselves go, but as far as what’s actually in the bottle, that takes a spot of research. Protein powder-based shakes have become a common sight in public and private gyms, with bodybuilders quickly pounding the stuff after a lengthy workout. But do you need to run out and buy a palette of powder before you can get into exercising? Probably not.

Protein powder, as the name likely tips you off, is a powdered supplement made of some kind of protein-rich substance like whey or soy. Mixed into a shake with liquids like water or milk creates an easily-digestible source of protein for your body to draw from. There’s an old rumor of a thirty minute or so period right after a workout known as the “golden time,” and if you consume a protein shake in this period, your muscle gains will be even greater. This, unfortunately, isn’t quite true. While consuming protein right after a workout is definitely good for your body, giving it some building blocks to construct your muscles with, you likely won’t see any significant changes whether you drink it or not.

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Protein powder serves a better purpose as a part of a meal replacement. If you combine some protein powder with some milk (or non-dairy substitute), fruit, and maybe some vegetables, you can get a fantastic, nutritionally balanced shake for breakfast. Bear in mind, though, protein powder shakes are more readily recommended for those with busy schedules or lack of access to fresh, protein-rich foods. If you’re already getting your daily allotment of protein throughout the day from regular food, a breakfast shake won’t do much for you.

Protein powder isn’t some kind of nectar of the gods, but it is a handy tool for ensuring your body gets the protein it needs when it needs it.