Sunday 28 December 2014

Yes, protein shakes work, but natural is better

MY FRIENDS are all taking protein shakes; do I need to take them? One of my friends, who trains four times a week lifting weights, says it is essential to get protein into the bloodstream soon after working out so the muscles can repair themselves and that a shake is the best way to do this. What do you think?

WOW, now there's a topical question. Protein shakes have become really fashionable over the past few years and there is a lot of confusing information out there about them. They are great for certain people and unnecessary for others.

Firstly, what does protein do? It is the nutrient that repairs the muscle after training. When you train you tear the muscle fibres and protein helps the muscle to repair and grow back. It also promotes lean tissue development – the more lean tissue you have on your body the harder your body works to keep it there.

In my opinion though I think it is better to get your protein from natural sources such as meat, eggs, tofu and fish. It's protein in real form with no added sugars or flavours or colours.

Protein is a crucial nutrient, no doubt about it, but it is certainly better in its real source than in all the tubs. However, if you have a busy lifestyle and skip meals, shakes can be handy to ensure that you get your nutrients in properly.

If you are doing marathons, ironmans or any extreme events then protein shakes can help to aid recovery. So yes, they do have their place.

I suppose you really need to ask yourself why you are taking them? Is it because you're too busy or is it because all your friends are taking them?

If you are taking them then you certainly need to be careful about what ones you choose. Firstly, try to choose Irish. Optimum Nutrition is an Irish brand and very high quality; Maximuscle is also a good product.

If you're buying online, buy from a reputable brand. Always try to choose the brand with the lowest sugar content, as some have super-high sugar values.

My advice is to see why you are taking them, choose the best if you do take them or ideally cook some protein naturally yourself!

I AM looking for a workout regime that is free and flexible as I have just had a baby and returned to work and I just don't have the time to go to the gym as regularly as I used to. Which is better, walking or running?

THE real answer here is that they are both fantastic. Walking on its own isn't great but if you walk fast it can become one of the best forms of exercise there is.

Both running and walking are inexpensive, can be done anywhere and will deliver great benefits.

Running is great if you are running for the enjoyment of it. If you don't like it, guess what? It isn't going to last. If you are running to lose weight, it isn't going to last. You have to enjoy it!

However, there is no doubt that running places a greater stress on the body and increases the risk of injury.

They are both super and I am a big fan of both – fast walking will deliver great results without the impact and running is a great way to keep fit and motivated.

Above all just make sure that you choose the one that you love the most, that you enjoy and that isn't a chore – the more you enjoy it the better.

Irish Independent

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