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What are good protein shakes and bars?


Fast Facts:

Read these if you just want the basic recommendation.

1) Protein shakes and bars can be great ways to supplement your dietary protein intake, particularly when you are on the go and don’t have time to eat a meal.

2) Not all protein shakes and bars are created equal. Protein type and other ingredients/additives can significantly affect the nutritional value of a shake or bar. Paying attention to the ingredient list on your shake or bar, as well as being informed about what you are ingesting is very important.

3) There are two types of protein shakes: meal replacement powders (MRPs) and protein drinks. MRPs are slightly higher calorie (normally 200-350); as the name would suggest, these can replace a meal due to their overall nutrient and calorie content. Protein drinks are normally single protein in nature, and not much more. These drinks are normally 100-150 calories and contain a single protein like whey, egg, soy, or beef.

4) The following are some high-quality meal replacement powders: Met-Rx MRP, Isopure Original, and Myoplex Original. You can blend these or use a BlenderBottle to shake them up. Similarly, if you’re just looking for a protein shake, we recommend EAS 100% Whey Protein, Optimum Nutrition: Gold Standard 100% Whey, and Dymatize: ISO-100

5) The following are some high-quality protein bars: Quest Bars, Combat Crunch Bars, FIT Crunch Bars, Pure Protein Bars.

Scientific Support & Evidence:

Read this if you want to know what we base our recommendations on.

1) Much of the current research supports whey protein (derived from milk) as the most optimal protein for supplemental consumption. Whey has high branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content. BCAAs are the most important amino acids for repair and synthesis in the human body. Whey is also easily (and quickly) digested and absorbed into the body. The bonus is that it is highly palatable!

2) Benefits of whey protein include (from the Whey Protein Institute):
– Helps achieve a healthy body weight
– Boosts metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass
– Promotes weight loss by stimulating an appetite-suppressing effect
– Helps promote a strong immune system
– Can aid in increasing muscle after exercise through repairing damaged tissue
– May improve muscle strength and endurance
– Enhances lean body mass in conjunction with exercise training
– Helps prevent muscle loss associated with exercise-induced stress
– Helps minimize the negative effects associated with an age related decline in glutathione levels

3) There are different types of whey protein that have varying amounts of protein, dairy sugar (lactose), and fat:
– Whey Protein Concentrate: 25-89% Protein, 4-52% Lactose, 1-9% Fat
– Whey Protein Isolate: 90-95% Protein, 0.5-1% Lactose, 0.5-1% Fat (this is the purest, highest quality form of whey protein.
– Hydrolyzed Whey Protein: 80-90% Protein, 0.5-10% Lactose, 0.5-8% Fat

4) When looking at the ingredient list on a bar or shake, the first ingredient should read whey protein or whey protein blend. Ideally the whey protein blend would contain different sub-fractions of the types of whey listed above. Other ingredients may be listed in the blend (like soy, casein, etc.). In general, the more whey in the blend, the better.

Links to Other Informational Resources:

Click below if you’d like more in-depth information

1) Whey Protein Institute

2) Whey Protein

3) Peer-reviewed journal article: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise

4) AFS Blog Articles: Learning About Popular Supplements

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