Protein Shakes – How useful?

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The advantages, disadvantages and dangers of protein shakes

The advantages, disadvantages and dangers of protein shakesMany athletes use protein shakes to develop their muscles, lose weight, perform better or recover.Protein shakes can include whey proteins and whey is processed by the liver like other proteins, after which it has its function in the development and maintenance of the muscles.What is a protein shake?What are the protein sources?When should you take a protein shake?And how are proteins broken down and digested?Read this and the advantages, disadvantages and hazards protein shakes below.

What is a protein shake?

Protein shakes – also known as protein shakes – are drinks that consist of virtually pure protein that is mixed with water, milk or juice. If desired, you can also add fruit, vegetables or other supplements. Protein powders form the basis of a protein shake.Protein powder can have various sources, such as whey, soy, casein and egg.

Protein sources

There are several sources of protein that can be processed in a shake. The most commonly used protein sources are:


In Dutch also called whey – is a protein that remains after coagulation of milk by adding rennet. Rennet contains digestive enzymes that can process the milk and ensures that all essential amino acids remain. It contains the so-called fast proteins.These digest the fastest and are the fastest to be absorbed by the body.


Casein is an animal protein that mainly occurs in milk. Casein forms 80% of the proteins that occur in milk. The other proteins that occur in milk are mainly whey. Casein is a slow protein, which means that it does not immediately have a direct function in the recovery of the muscles, but is good for the long-term protection against muscle breakdown.


Soy is used by a small group of athletes, most of whom have an allergy to whey or casein. Because soy is not an animal protein, it is also often used by vegetarians. Soy contains many essential and non-essential proteins, but does not contain them all.


Egg is an expensive protein and is therefore rarely used in shakes. Egg comes from the white of the eggs and is therefore fat-free.It is also easy to digest. It contains an even more complete range of amino acids than whey, but not in equal amounts.

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When to use protein shakes?

There are different times when a protein shake can be taken.

  • For the physical effort. By taking a protein shake for the effort, the body is protected against muscle breakdown and ensures that other sources of energy are made.
  • After the physical effort. In order to restore the muscles and to promote muscle growth one should take a protein shake one or two hours after physical exertion. In this case, a protein shake with whey as a protein source is the most ideal choice, because this protein is quickly absorbed by the body.
  • Before bedtime. By taking a protein shake before bedtime, you build up a protein supply. In this case this stock consists mainly of slow proteins and an ideal source for this is casein or the egg protein. The natural recovery process of the body is supported with this.

What is the function of proteins?

Proteins, also called proteins, are molecules that consist of chains of amino acids. The amino acids in these chains are linked by peptide bonds. There are essential and non-essential amino acids. The body has to release the amino acids from the proteins.Products with a high protein content are meat products, fish, dairy products, eggs and nuts. However, these products also contain fats, carbohydrates and other substances and therefore athletes prefer pure proteins as shown above.

Proteins have different functions in our body:

  • Proteins play an important role in the performance of chemical processes in the body. Often proteins are called enzymes in this context. Enzymes play an important role in the conversion of products and thus form the basis of the production of energy and building materials. For example, enzymes play an important role in the formation of ATP in the citric acid cycle.
  • Proteins maintain our body. They ensure the development and maintenance of muscles and give the cytoskeleton its shape and structure.
  • Proteins also have a transport function in our body. At the cellular level, proteins transport substances into and out of the cell.
  • Proteins are hormones in some cases. In this case, they are so-called ‘messengers’ and provide communication at a great distance. Receptors ensure that these proteins can be bound and that the hormone can transmit its signal.


How are proteins broken down and absorbed into the body?

Proteins are not yet digested in the mouth and esophagus. Once in the stomach, the breakdown of the proteins starts. There are a number of glands in the stomach wall that excrete gastric juice. Gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid to kill the bacteria in the food and also contains an enzyme to break proteins into smaller pieces. Then almonds are added to our food in the duodenum.This contains enzymes that further break down the proteins. Once in the intestine, intestinal juice is excreted. This contains enzymes that break down the proteins into amino acids. These amino acids can now move through the intestinal wall and go to the portal vein. Via the portal vein, the amino acids enter our blood vessel system and are transported to the liver. The amino acids are further broken down in the liver. This creates residual waste in the form of urea. This urea is excreted in our urine via the kidneys.

With the amino acids from the food, several new proteins are now being made in the liver that our body needs. These proteins then go their own way and then fulfill their task as receptor protein, hormone or enzyme, for example. If you absorb proteins in pure form, such as the protein powder that forms the basis of protein shakes, then the absorption process of proteins takes less time.

Benefits of protein shakes

Protein shakes have many advantages:

  • It ensures recovery of the muscles after exercise.
  • It ensures the maintenance of the muscles.
  • It is a source for muscle building.
  • It offers support for weight loss

Disadvantages of protein shakes

Despite the fact that proteins in protein shakes are very pure, they still contain calories. Do not take unlimited protein shakes. In addition, the liver has to partly break down and convert the proteins and an excessive amount of proteins offered can cause damage to the liver. As a sportsman, do not take more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Dangers of protein shakes

The consumption of protein shakes does not involve dangers in normal use. However, with excessive intake, protein shakes can cause damage to the body. So first try to make a clear inventory of how much protein you need in a day. This varies per person and depends, among other things, on his or her construction and physical activities.

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