The protein shake has powered its whey to mass popularity over the past few years. This powdered product is mixed with milk and consumed by the gallon as a convenient and effective method of providing worn-down muscle the necessary material to effectively re-build leaner and stronger than it was prior to the workout. While it may be convenient to shake up a meal up in a plastic beaker, you could be doing both your body and your bank account a serious disservice and recent reliable research has bolstered this claim.
If ever there was an authoritative research team to shake down the product manufacturer claims, it’s a combination of current affairs documentary, Panorama teaming up with Oxford University and the British Medical Journal. A recent show on the BBC found claims made by the vast majority of tested products to be totally unsubstantiated. A high-up FIFA medical bigwig told Panorama how the reason FIFA does not sponsor any of these products is because the makers have been unable to provide any scientifically robust evidence that they work.
In addition to the above, protein shakes can be expensive. Depending on the brand you choose, drinking shakes regularly and stacking other supplements such as creatine on top can see the cost of your recovery really starting to chisel away at your expendable income. However, if a failure in balanced ratio of money-spent to substantiated-scientific-evidence-available is not enough of a concern, then another consideration should be the failure to balance your diet.
Eating real food provides all kinds of vitamins, minerals and trace elements which the body needs and which will be cut out if you rely too heavily on protein shakes. A couple of scoops in a shaker saves time, but at what cost?
Time truly is of the essence so if we’re going to find some alternatives, they’ll need to be easy. The most obvious source of protein for which to make a beeline is meat, so we’ll start here. Furthermore, solid facts on nutrition are notoriously nebulous, so we’re using one of the most trusted sources out there, nutritiondata.com.
Grilling white fish with the skin on takes approximately as much time and skill as grilling a slice of bacon, but packs a more favourable protein to fat ratio. Score three cuts in the skin and grill it with this side facing upwards. The trick is to remove the fish from the grill while it’s still slightly raw right in the centre. Gently lift the fish and brake underneath to check how far it’s got left to cook. If almost done, remove from the grill to let the residual heat finish it off to ensure a succulent protein fix every time.
Includes: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Choline, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, 9 amino acids, 10 different trace minerals including Phosphorus, Magnesium and Selenium.
Oily fish includes those such as mackerel and sardines. The great thing about this type of fish is that it’s so cheaply available cooked and ready to go in cans. A tin of sardines mashed up with chopped chillies and garlic on toasted brown bread is an amazing carb and protein snack packed with all kinds of goodness for your body. Experiment with it and note that this is a huge intake of omega fatty acids in particular.
Includes: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Choline, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, 9 amino acids, 10 different trace minerals including Phosphorus, Magnesium and Selenium.
Cottage Cheese and Yogurts
Unsweetened yogurt and cottage cheese represent high-protein dairy products which are one step closer to being a component of a proper meal rather than a glass of milk. You may want to mix something with these and common serving suggestions include fruit and nuts.
Includes: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Choline, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, 9 amino acids, 9 different trace minerals including Phospherous, Selenium and Calcium.
Peanut Butter, Almonds and Other Nuts
Nuts are another commonly overlooked high-protein food which are packed full of many beneficial health boons. Opt for peanut butter with no added sweeteners or flavourings such as the Organic Whole Earth brand. Buying nuts in bulk online can save you money here, too.
Includes: Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Choline, Betaine, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acids, 9 amino acids, 10 different trace minerals including Copper, Magnesium and Manganese.
Improving the Road to Recovery
The more natural protein sources you add to this list such as pulses, mushrooms or lentils, the greater the diversification in the extensive list of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and amino acids. Adopting a natural, wholefood approach to your workout recovery will help all aspects of your health and fitness and will likely see benefits such as clearer skin, improved concentration and a stronger immune system. Our wonderful bodies have evolved to need a wide variety of foodstuffs. Don’t fall into the trap of opting for the convenience of expensive factory-processed materials over a balanced diet of real food the way nature intended. Shave 5-20 minutes off your TV or XBox time and experiment making quick and easy recovery meals to give your body what it deserves.
James Appleton is a health and fitness writer for some of the best gyms in chiswick.