Updated April 30, 2021Protein plays an important role in our overall health including repairing cells, protecting our body from viruses and bacteria, and promoting proper growth and development. Without enough protein, we risk a weakened heart and lungs and loss of muscle mass.It’s best to consume enough protein through a well-balanced diet, but sometimes this can be challenging. Those who frequently exercise should up their protein consumption in order to help repair muscles, as well as people over age 50 in order to maintain muscle mass.Protein shakes offer a convenient solution for these situations and help ensure adequate nutritional levels. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of protein shakes and what to look for when choosing one that’s right for your lifestyle and needs.Best Protein ShakesBest Overall Protein Shake: OWYN Best Vegan Protein Shake: Vega Protein Nutritional Shake Best Plant-Based Protein Shake: Koia Protein Shake Best Organic Protein Shake: Orgain Clean Protein Shake Best Protein Shake for Athletes: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein DrinkBest Overall: OWYNOWYN’s protein shakes have everything you need for a balanced nutritional drink, including a superfood greens blend, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential amino acids. This shake is great for anyone looking for a highly nutritional drink with low calories and carbs.The 100% plant-based vegan shakes contain 20 grams of complete protein, providing its drinkers with all nine essential amino acids. This means the shakes provide plenty of nutritional benefits for good health and functioning bodies to meet everyday needs.Since the shake only has 5 grams of carb and a low amount of organic cane sugar, you don’t have to worry about consuming extra calories. In fact, OWYN’s protein shakes are only 180 calories. The drink is also great for anyone sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients. The shakes are tested to ensure they’re free of allergens including dairy, soy, gluten/wheat, egg, peanut, and tree nuts.OWYN protein shakes are available to purchase online or at major retailers like Target, Sprouts, and CVS Pharmacy.Best Vegan: Vega Protein Nutritional ShakeFor anyone looking for a boost of vitamins, Vega’s line of nutritional shakes provide just that. Offered in classic chocolate or vanilla flavors, the shakes are an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and D to help the immune system. Plus, all Vega’s products are non-GMO project verified, gluten-free, and free of artificial flavors and preservatives for a clean product.A blend of pumpkin seed, hemp, and pea protein delivers 20 grams of plant-based nutrition, while flaxseed offers fiber and essential fatty acids. Additionally, a superfoods blend of spinach, kale, organic spirulina, green algae, and broccoli supply added vitamins, minerals, and fiber.In all, the shake provides 25 percent daily value of at least 11 vitamins and minerals and is a great choice for anyone who struggles to eat a balanced diet throughout the day.Find Vega products at national retailers and grocers like Walmart, Target, and Fry’s, or shop their products online.Best Plant-Based: Koia Protein ShakeIf you’re tired of the typical chocolate and vanilla flavor offerings, Koia’s line of protein shakes offer something new. With flavors like cinnamon horchata, cold brew coffee, and coconut almond, there’s something for everyone’s taste.While free of dairy, these protein shakes are still extra creamy due to their almond milk base and a blend of chickpea, pea, and brown rice proteins. Offering 18 grams of protein and low sugar, this is a great post-workout recovery shake. Koia’s products are also gluten- and soy-free, and non-GMO project verified to suit a variety of dietary needs.Shop Koia’s full line of flavors online or find select flavors at health food stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Natural Grocers.Best Organic: Orgain Clean Protein ShakeOrgain offers their organic products with convenient delivery solutions. Buyers can choose automated shipping for 30-, 45-, or 60-day frequency plus recurring savings on various subscription plans. Subscriptions can be easily updated online at any time for any reason.Orgain’s Clean Protein Shakes have 20 grams of clean protein sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand. With only 130 calories, these shakes are great for weight loss or as a healthy snack. In addition to being organic, Orgain’s shakes are gluten-free, Kosher, non-GMO, and free of soy ingredients.Best for Athletes: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein DrinkGreat for athletes and gym enthusiasts, this shake delivers 24 grams of whey protein to help build and maintain muscle. It also contains 5.5 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), which support recovery and enhance performance.While some protein powders and supplements can contain artificial ingredients and hormones, the Gold Standard shake is free of growth hormones and artificial sweeteners. In fact, all of Optimum Nutrition’s products only use high-quality, raw ingredients and are tested and re-tested to ensure you’re getting the most superior product.Shop Optimum Nutrition at select online retailers including DNA Nutrition, Europa Sports, and Muscle Foods.Benefits of Protein ShakesProtein shakes offer a convenient way to reap the benefits of protein, a nutrient essential to body function. Made up of amino acids, protein plays a role in building muscle, weight loss, and overall good health.Can Support Weight LossProtein can lead to weight loss by decreasing hunger and appetite and making you feel full longer. It does this by affecting various hormones that play a role in hunger. For example, protein increases levels of GLP-1, PYY, and CCK, all of which reduce appetite levels. Protein also reduces levels of ghrelin, a hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.Additionally, a high protein diet helps to build muscles, which will be discussed next. And since muscle burns more calories than fat, this also supports weight loss.Help Build MuscleIncreasing muscle mass and strength is important for maintaining good health, especially as people age. Evidence shows a loss of muscle mass and strength leads to impaired mobility, a higher risk of falls, and increased mortality.In order to maintain and build muscle mass, and increase overall strength, getting enough protein is key. This is because muscle is primarily made up of protein. A study by Eastern Michigan University shows a high protein diet combined with strength training is highly effective for building muscle.Support Nutrition IntakeProtein is an essential macronutrient and an important part of our daily diet. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends adults consume roughly 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. While protein is found in many foods like red meat, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds, protein shakes are a quick alternative.While most healthy adults in the U.S. get enough protein through foods, some people may require higher levels of protein. Those who regularly exercise need more to support muscle recovery and growth. People over the age of 50 also need to increase their protein intake to prevent muscle loss, which naturally occurs as we age.For those who need to increase their protein consumption, a shake can be a quick and easy solution.On-the-Go NutritionIn a world where people are always short on time and rushing from one place to the next, a well-balanced meal is not always doable. Protein shakes offer a convenient solution to meeting daily nutrition needs. Whether after a workout or during a busy day of travel, protein shakes can help fuel you on the go.What to Look For in a Protein ShakeProtein shakes often incorporate other ingredients to help support overall nutritional needs. For the most effective formula, look for a shake with several key components:Between 25 and 40 grams of high-quality protein: A high-quality protein like whey or casein is a great pick because they are both considered complete proteins, which is a protein containing the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own. The Cleveland Clinic notes we can only absorb between 25 and 40 grams of protein in one sitting, so consuming more than that in a shake is unnecessary. Since men and women typically need a different amount of protein per day, you can also shop for protein shakes for women and protein shakes for men.No artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup: Added sugars do not support nutritional needs and are unnecessary calories.Balance of fat and fiber: Dr. Michelle Hauser of Harvard Medical School notes protein, fat, and fiber as the “healthful trio.” Fiber helps you feel full immediately, protein helps you stay full longer, and fat works with your hormones to tell your body to stop eating. This trio of nutrition can be especially beneficial if your protein shake is serving as a meal replacement.Added beneficial ingredients: Added greens, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), digestive enzymes, and probiotics are all essential to growth and overall health. Look for these beneficial ingredients for a boost of nutrition.FAQsAre protein shakes good for weight loss?According to the Mayo Clinic, replacing meals with protein shakes can help reduce your daily calories which can lead to weight loss. However, it’s best to not rely too heavily on them as whole foods are the best source for nutritional benefits, including protein.The best way to achieve weight loss is by choosing healthy foods – including protein, whether through whole foods or protein shakes – and including physical activity in your daily routine.When should you drink protein shakes?There’s not a bad time to consume a protein shake but depending on your needs, some times may be better than others. For those looking to build muscle, drinking a shake around your workout, whether before or after, can help repair and rebuild muscles.If you’re replacing a meal or enjoying a shake as a snack, they can be consumed throughout the day as needed. It’s best to not drink more than one protein shake a day because it’s important to still eat whole foods. A well-balanced diet of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will offer the most nutritional benefits.Can protein shakes replace a meal?Protein shakes are a convenient alternative when a sit-down meal is not an option. It’s better to consume a protein shake rather than skip an entire meal altogether. A shake can provide your body with fuel and make you feel full, whereas not eating at all lowers the body’s metabolism and decreases energy levels.However, eating a well-balanced meal of whole foods is always the preferred choice over a protein shake. Whole foods provide essential vitamins and minerals which protein shakes don’t offer.What are high protein foods for weight loss?Some great high-protein foods include soy protein, beans, nuts, lean beef, pork, and greek yogurt.Lower energy-dense foods are also great options because they have few calories in a large amount of food. This can allow you to eat more and feel full while only consuming a small number of calories. Some of the healthiest options include foods high in protein but low in fat, like legumes (beans, peas and lentils), fish, skinless white-meat poultry, fat-free dairy products, and egg whites.Is it okay to drink protein shakes before bed?Recent evidence shows drinking a protein shake before bed can offer benefits for improved exercise training. A 2019 study suggests drinking 40 grams of protein prior to sleep will increase overnight muscle recovery and lead to increased muscle mass and strength. Like other vitamins and minerals that promote sleep, protein can also help you fall asleep faster and rest undisturbed.This then promotes skeletal muscle adaptive response which is responsible for endurance. For optimum results, the study suggests combining resistance-type exercise training with a pre-sleep protein shake, for improved muscle mass, strength, and overall endurance.ConclusionProtein shakes can serve a variety of purposes, from supporting nutritional needs to helping build muscle. For a well-rounded drink, steer clear of artificial ingredients and look for a balanced blend of high protein and low sugar.While protein shakes can be a great snack and sometimes even replace a meal in a pinch, they’re not as beneficial to our bodies as whole foods. Maintaining a well-balanced diet is the best way to get our daily needs of essential vitamins and minerals which support our overall health.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.