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Are all shakes created equal?

Posted Mar 03 2013 12:27pm
When I talk about Shakes here I’m talking weightloss shakes, protein shakes and healthy smoothies.

So, are all shakes created equal? The answer is NO.

Now I am not here to diss or dismiss any other brands, makes or types. I’m simply going to point out the features and benefits of the shakes on the market and highlight some ingredients in both positive and negative ways for you to make a more informed choice.

I see shakes falling into 3 categories:

1. Protein Shakes (for Pre workout and post workout)

Protein shakes come in a variety of forms from 100% pure whey protein shakes – pure for lean muscle development through to blended high protein supplements for slow time release, these formulas are specifically designed to maximise recovery and tissue regeneration over a sustained period of time through the addition of more animal based protein in your diet.

These include Whey Protein or Creatine.

Whey protein supplements are convenient and possibly beneficial for some people, but only when taken correctly. Whey makes up about 20 percent of the protein found in milk, according to the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center.

Most people consume plenty of protein in their diets. So, adding whey protein supplements to the mix may take you beyond your daily needs for the nutrient. This situation is unsafe for anyone with pre-existing kidney problems, such as renal disease or diabetes. In order to benefit from whey protein, you must be sure to consume it within your daily protein needs. If you don’t exercise regularly, your daily need for protein is about 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. If you’re physically active on a consistent basis, your need for protein is slightly higher. Talk to your doctor to determine your protein needs, and to discuss whether whey protein is right for you.

Creatine is neither “good” nor “bad” for you: It is an amino acid found in meat and fish and also naturally made by your liver, kidneys and pancreas, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Creatine is converted into ATP, which your body uses as the major energy source for high-intensity, short-duration exercise such as sprinting or strength training. Even if you take creatine as directed, there still is a possibility that creatine supplementation can adversely interact with other medications.

These shakes do not usually contain all additional vitamin or mineral blends and they are not designed to replace meals, simply supplement a healthy meal plan to give you more protein as you want to repair and build muscle. They are synthetically created and are often flavoured with sugars.

2. Meal replacement shakes

Meal replacement shakes can offer a healthy and balanced nutritional option, in a shake form, to be combined as part of a healthy eating plan. The good ones are formulated to reduce food cravings whilst offering high levels of complex carbohydrates and are full of good protein and good fat. There is a wide variety of options out there so here are some the things you should look out for when choosing a meal replacement shake:

  • Does it contain only natural ingredients or does it have additives, preservatives, sweeteners or GMO products?

  • How would I know this? Read the label carefully not just the packaging and do not believe the claims of health benefits, judge for yourself and the taste. Does it taste like plastic or metallic?

    Look for unhealthy items like sweeteners and other excitotoxins on the label.

    Items to avoid are:
    - sugar, thickeners, stabilizers, flavourings, sweeteners such as Sucralose, Acesulfame K and Aspartame.

  • Does it contain healthly beneficial foods like fruit or vegetable powders, Omega 3, complex carbohydrates?


  • Items to encourage:
    - green leafy vegetables powders, such as wheatgrass, spirulina, artichoke, chlorella and fruit powders containing papaya, prunes, dates, apples, berries and grapes and good fats of Omega 3 & 6, vitamin and mineral blends and antioxidants and protein from plant based sources such as rice, oats, chickpea, soy (non GMO of course)

  • How many of the products are natural v synthetic? Wholefood V isolated? Organic or non organic?


  • Always go for fresh ingredients, look for wholefood items i.e. one that you can read and understand on a label like names of fruits and vegetables, and you don’t need a chemistry degree to decipher. Avoid pre-made up shakes with Milk as this will not be fresh. Organically sourced food is important in nutritional cleansing rather than just dieting. Too many synthetic or toxic ingredient will result in you having toxins build up, make fat loss more difficult and you will just feel worse at the end in addition to be more likely to put it all back on again.

3. Health supplement shakes/smoothies

These need to be full of whole food supplements, organically sourced and plant based ingredients. They should include wholefood based ingredients that you are not eating on a daily basis, a way to supplement your existing diet and bridge the gap .

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