Protein shakes can do more than just provide balanced nutrition. Getting into the shake habit just might improve your eating habits, too.
There are plenty of reasons why protein shakes are popular. They can provide you with balanced nutrition that can replace a meal, they’re quick to make, and you can get creative and customize them with all kinds of add-ins. Those are all great reasons, but there are other ways that protein shakes can improve your diet and eating habits.
Including protein shakes in your diet can also address many common obstacles to eating well, as well as help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Keeping track of your daily calorie intake is an important key to weight management. But it’s not easy to do; most people underestimate their calorie intake by 20% or so. Part of what makes calorie counting difficult is that it requires you to accurately weigh and measure everything you eat. Plus, you need to account for all the little details, like how the food is prepared or what condiments you eat with it. The beauty of protein shakes is that they’re usually made up of just a few ingredients that. are easy to measure. That allows you to get an accurate calorie count of the finished shake.
Customizing your protein shake by adding fruits and vegetables allows for almost endless variety—and you can easily add a serving or two to your shake. To make this quick and convenient, keep a variety of frozen fruits on hand in your freezer. And try adding veggies such as fresh or frozen spinach, carrots, kale or winter squash to your shake.
Many people have erratic eating patterns because they just don’t make time to plan and prepare what they’re going to eat. As a result, they may end up skipping meals or snacking more. There are few things that are easier to prepare than a protein shake. When you’ve got your protein powder, your liquid “mixer” and maybe some fruits or vegetables to add, you’ve got balanced nutrition in a glass in minutes—and no excuse for skipping meals.
A protein shake is naturally portion-controlled, which can help you in a couple of ways. First, when you use your protein shake as a meal, your portion is defined for you. Having a protein shake at one meal might also help you control your portion size at your next meal, too. Also, if your shake is nutritionally balanced and provides protein and carbohydrates to keep you satisfied from one meal to the next, you won’t be famished when you do sit down to eat. And that can make it much easier for you to control how much food you put on your plate.
No matter how careful you are with your food choices, it isn’t always easy to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs every day. A protein shake made with milk or soy milk and the addition of a fruit or vegetable can help you meet your needs for several nutrients, including protein, calcium, vitamin D and fiber. And many protein shake mixes have vitamins and minerals added, which boosts nutrition even more.
When you’re on the run and hunger strikes, you might be tempted to dart into your local fast food place for quick satisfaction. But it can be challenging to find a healthy, balanced meal when you’re on the go. If you let yourself get too hungry, you’ll probably just grab the first thing you can—which may not be the healthiest thing. The fact that protein shakes are portable is a huge plus. Once your shake is blended, it’s ready to go—whether you’re on your way to work or school, running errands, or heading back to your desk at lunch. Protein shakes can be quick, healthy, convenient and delicious. What more could you ask for?
Susan is the Sr. Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife, where she is responsible for the development of nutrition education and training materials, and is one of the primary authors of the Herbalife-sponsored blog, www.discovergoodnutrition.com. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds two Board Certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and a Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management. Susan is also a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Susan graduated with distinction in biology from the University of Colorado, and received her master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She then completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas. Susan has taught extensively and developed educational programs targeted to individuals, groups and industry in her areas of expertise, including health promotion, weight management and sports nutrition.
Prior to her role at Herbalife, she was the assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, and has held appointments as adjunct professor in nutrition at Pepperdine University and as lecturer in nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Susan was a consultant to the (then) Los Angeles Raiders for six seasons, and was a contributing columnist for the Los Angeles Times Health Section for two years. She is a co-author of 23 research papers, 14 book chapters, and was a co-author of two books for the public: “What Color is Your Diet?” and “The L.A. Shape Diet” by Dr. David Heber, published by Harper Collins in 2001 and 2004, respectively.