To shake or not to shake? That is the question I’m often asked by clients looking to get fit, shed fat and/or build muscle. The answer is simple: shakes can be great for all shapes and sizes… if you know why you are using them!
Let’s face it – shakes are convenient, easy to digest and perfect as a pre- and post-workout snack and/or meal… and it’s much easier to make than, say, an omelette at the crack of dawn or as you are on your way to work! But you really do need to first ask yourself one question: what is your goal?
Unless you are a competitive athlete or bodybuilder, for the majority of the population taking shakes is nothing more than convenience or clever marketing brainwashing. ‘Real’ food, however, is always better than protein shakes and other liquid supplements. Lots of people rely too heavily on smoothies and shakes and are missing out on the nutritional value a good diet gives the body. The best source of energy comes from healthy meals consisting of high-quality protein and fresh, vitamin-packed fruit and vegetables. Weight-loss shakes can starve the body of nutrients it needs to perform at its physical and mental peak. If you are taking shakes as a meal replacement to lose weight, then I guarantee you will put that ‘weight’ you lost straight back on again.
A good smoothie should consist of ingredients that are right for you – and choosing a protein that complements your goals. Looking to bulk up and gain weight? Whey protein, created as a by-product of cheese production, could be great for you. Milk products accelerate the weight-gain process. People looking to shed kilos, however, need to look elsewhere. From my experience most people will lose weight simple by restricting their dairy consumption. Commercially marketed weight-loss shakes can be dangerous as the process is often a quick fix – a healthy diet and an occasional shake featuring pea and/or rice protein is my suggestion. Pea and rice proteins are easy to digest, and studies have shown they produce the least allergic reactions of all protein supplements available.
The contents of your shake – the milk you select – is also important. If you prefer milk instead of water, be sure to assess your options – low-fat varieties are often quite high in sugar. (When items are low in fat, they’re often high in sugar… and that sugar is eventually stored in the body as fat!) I highly recommend coconut milk because it’s a good-quality fat source. I have my shakes on water, with a dash of coconut milk – when you’re training hard that good quality fat is great for energy.
It’s really important to have good-quality ingredients that are not too high in processed carbohydrates while remaining low in sugar, too. Berries make great shakes – add them to your mix. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all make sensational smoothies and are great thrown into the blender straight from the freezer. They’re also high in antioxidants, are easily digestible, high in vitamin C and taste great, too. Smoothies are great – as long as you understand they’re supplementary to a high-quality diet. Use them responsibly! Make a great shake, though – one featuring high-quality ingredients tailored to your training plan and health goals – and you’ve got a magnificent mini meal in just a minute!
Mark Moon is a holistic fitness and wellbeing coach with over 20 years experience educating people on the importance of a balanced and sustainable approach to their health and lifestyle. His philosophy is to teach people to think long term and big picture about how they want their life to look, and uses modalities such as strength training, yoga and life coaching to help them create it.
As a dynamic and down-to-earth trainer, Mark believes there are three key areas to sustainable fitness: MINDSET – NUTRITION – MOVEMENT – and when optimized, there’s no limit to the personal, professional and wider life goals you can achieve.
You can join Mark’s online fitness and yoga classes, or find him teaching in numerous Sydney-based health clubs including Body Mind Life, The Space Yoga Studio, Flow Athletic, Crunch Fitness and Fitness First.
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