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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

Can protein shakes aid weight loss?

Hi I've just bought the slender blender protein powder to start having for my breakfast and pre/post workout snacks. I went through a stage of heavy exercise and regulated calorie intake. After a two weeks I became so so Ill. I got chicken pox, the flu, tonsillitis.....you name it I got it. After this I was advised to have something like a protein shake as I was clearly not eating enough to maintain my exercise. I was wondering if these actually do help you lose weight? I've read hundreds of reviews which seem to insinuate that it does. I was hoping for a little advice surrounding this. When they're good to use. When they aren't. If they are perceived as a magical potion that actually stunts weight loss and finally, if they do help with recovery from the gym in my previous case. Thank you Toni.

A.

Our expert says...

Hi,

Thanks for your email.

I'm sorry to hear you were poorly after you last tried to complete heavy exercise. It is very important that we nourish our bodies in the correct way if we're exercising regularly. Heavy exercise uses our carbohydrate stores and tears our muscle fibres, so we need to eat plenty of quality protein and carbohydrates to help replenish these lost stores. Not eating enough when doing lots of exercise can put strain on our bodies, and impact on our immunity, which can result in us becoming ill - as you experienced.

Your calorie intake

I can see you have been set a target of 1,400 calories per day in order to lose 2lbs per week. So you should ensure you eat as close to this as you can every day. If you are doing a lot of exercise on one day, and burn 500 calories or more, you should aim to have an extra snack that day also. Something around 250-300 calories would be good, to ensure you are not creating too high a calorie deficit. This will also ensure your body is getting the right level of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, and to keep your immune system strong.

Pre and post workout foods

You should ensure you have eaten a light snack at least 2 hours before exercise to ensure your body has the energy it needs to perform well. Ensure this is light - something like fruit and yogurt, a banana, a cereal bar or a slice of toast with jam/peanut butter - to avoid any stomach upset when you start exercising.

It's a great idea to have something easy to eat/drink after working out, as our bodies are in need of additional nutrients in the hours after exercise. It's recommended that we have a carbohydrate and protein based snack in the first 2 hours after exercise, as this is the time when our bodies can use the nutrients most effectively to aid recovery. So something like a protein shake, a glass of milk, a banana or a nutty cereal bar would be great choices.

Protein shakes

There really is little evidence to suggest that shakes such as these aid with weight loss. Weight loss comes down to calorie balance - you have to burn off more than you take in each day in order to lose weight. Protein shakes have calories in, so they actually contribute to our daily calorie intake. But as long as your overall intake is still in line with your targets, they're absolutely fine to use as an aid to exercise recovery.

These particular shakes contain green tea. There have been claims that green tea boosts weight loss, however there is very little strong scientific evidence to support this claim. Green tea is full of antioxidants and is therefore a healthy addition to your diet, but it will not cause significant weight loss.

The Slender Blend shakes are only 150 calories per serving - so if used as a meal replacement, the significant drop in calories will be the cause of any weight loss, not the ingredients in the shake. The high protein content could help you to feel fuller for longer, as protein has been found to increase satiety. But I would not advise using these shakes as meal replacements at just 15 calories.

Other options

Research has actually found that a simple glass of milk, or in particular chocolate milk, is a very effective post exercise recovery drink. It's possible that these are just effective at replenishing our energy stores as these protein drinks - but much cheaper! So they may be a good option to try. I have included a link below to an article regarding chocolate milk as a recovery aid, which you may find useful:

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/chocolate-milk-after-workout/

So in summary, shakes are fine to use as a pre/post workout drink and will provide a good balance of nutrients for that use - as will milk or chocolate milk. They should be used as part of a healthy balanced diet - I would not recommend using them as a meal replacement as the calorie level is very low, so use them as a snack addition on top of your 3 meals per day - and stick to your over all calorie allowance.

I hope this helps, and please get in touch if you need anything further.

Kind regards

Emma

Nutracheck Nutritionist (ANutr)

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