Do Athletes Need Protein Shakes?

by Heather Duchan | August 30th, 2011 | Sports

In recent years, marketing has convinced many to believe that athletes have exceptional protein needs, requiring supplementation by protein powders and bars. Every gym and health food store you go into has shelves full of protein shake powders, protein bars, and other protein supplementation products. This is definitely a win for the companies selling these products, but it may be a waste of money for the athletes who use them. According to many experts and medical professionals, protein supplementation is not necessary, even for athletes.

Although an athlete who participates in competitive sports or who has a tough training routine will require more protein than the same person who is sedentary, this protein is easily acquired through meals. The typical American diet actually provides too much protein. Consuming a portion of meat at each meal will likely provide all the protein you need and then some. The only people who would need supplementation would be those who cannot consume enough food to begin with, such as individuals in the late stages of AIDs. Those people are unlikely to be athletes.

Eating protein beyond the recommended levels provides no enhanced effect for athletes. In fact, doing so can actually hamper performance. If you’re eating protein shakes and bars for most of your nutrition, you’re likely losing out on carbohydrate foods that are essential to proper muscle development and performance. Your nutrition can be diminished as well if you consume protein foods instead of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive and prevent disease.

To get the best benefits for your sports activities, choose balanced meals with plenty of unprocessed foods, drink ample amounts of clean, filtered water, and avoid fad diets, including supplementation that is not approved by your doctor.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.