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Protein shakes can be a great after-exercise beverage or serve as a meal replacement. Julia Zumpano, a registered dietician from the Preventive Cardiology Program at Cleveland Clinic explains that the most important thing to consider is the nutritional makeup of your shake. It should have enough protein, amino acids, fiber and not a lot of added sugar. Some protein shakes come ready to drink, which can be a good option if you are on the go. Protein powders can be good on their own mixed with water or another base. You may choose to make them into a smoothie by adding other ingredients; it will keep you fuller, longer.

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Are Protein Shakes a Good Alternative?

Podcast Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Love Your Heart, brought to you by Cleveland Clinic's Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. These podcasts will help you learn more about your heart, thoracic and vascular systems, ways to stay healthy, and information about diseases and treatment options. Enjoy.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

Hello, my name is Julia Zumpano. I'm a registered dietician with the Department of Preventive Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

Today, I'm going to discuss protein shakes. Protein shakes have gained recent popularity, and they've been used in several ways. You can use them as a meal replacement, or just as a snack, or just a liquid that you consume after an activity or exercise.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

Depending on your health goals, the usage would vary, and – depending on maybe any allergies or nutritional goals that you already have set in place – the type of protein shake can vary drastically as well.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

There are many options from dairy-based protein shakes to non-dairy plant-based alternatives. Either can be very appropriate. In my opinion, the most important thing is to ensure that there's adequate protein in the protein shake and that it's meeting all the essential amino acids. Also, very important that the protein shakes don't have a lot of sugar, added sugars, and ideally gain some fiber and other nutrients in there, like vitamins and minerals, in addition to the amino acids.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

Protein shakes, if you choose them to be ready to drink, can be quick and convenient and an easy way to have a quick meal or a snack. If you choose a powder form, such as a protein powder, in my opinion, it would be a great opportunity to add more nutrients and vitamins and minerals to that shake. So I often suggest making it a smoothie where you can include some greens, some fruit, and maybe some additional protein and fiber sources such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or even some avocados, nuts or nut butters that will enhance the flavor and make it more of a complete meal. It will also help keep you more full from that protein shake and keep you more satisfied longer. So that's where you can really utilize it as a meal replacement.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

If you choose the liquid protein shake route, the ready-to-drink, I generally do recommend including a fruit and a vegetable with that protein shake to make it more symbolizing a complete meal. If you're using a protein shake after exercise, it's best to do it within 20 minutes after you exercise to reap the greatest benefits from muscle rebuilding and replenishing all of those things you've lost during exercise.

Julia Zumpano, RD, LD:

Protein shakes are a great thing to consider as a meal or a snack.

Announcer:

Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed the podcast. We welcome your comments and feedback. Please contact us at [email protected]. Like what you heard? Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen at clevelandclinic.org/loveyourheartpodcast.

Love Your Heart
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Love Your Heart

A Cleveland Clinic podcast to help you learn more about heart and vascular disease and conditions affecting your chest. We explore prevention, diagnostic tests, medical and surgical treatments, new innovations and more. 

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