Protein shakes are meal replacements consumed by people who want to lose weight or by bodybuilders and athletes who want to gain muscle. They can be an important part of a total health regiment, but there are some problems with long term use. Katherine Zertasky, a nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic, recommends no more then three months of continual use.
Read the Ingredients
Not all protein shake powders are the same. Protein shakes are complex concentrated foods so it is important to read the ingredients list to look for harmful additives. Look for artificial sweeteners like aspartame; do not use any shakes with artificial sweeteners. If you see any ingredients that you are unfamiliar with you should research it--know what you are ingesting, especially if you are going to be drinking it every day. Many protein shakes have large portions of whey, which can elevate your blood sugar levels dangerously. Many also contain casein which can elevate triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Soy is also a common ingredient that can cause reactions in some people. Even the best protein shakes can cause problems; the beginning of a protein shake regiment should be monitored by a physician.
The one important nutritional element that is missing from almost all protein shakes is fibre. The combination of high proteins and low fibre can cause intestinal distress in some people, leading to permanent damage. One solution is to eat high fibre foods (fruits and vegetables) along with the protein shakes. It is also important to drink the shakes after exercising because workouts destroy muscle. The time right after exercise--when your body is rebuilding muscle--is an excellent time to consume a high protein and low fibre shake.
Anything that elevates blood sugar levels, triglycerides and cholesterol can cause heart damage, especially if continued for a long time. This is the main reason why a high-use protein shake regiment should be monitored by a physician. If you have a pre-existing heart condition you should be especially careful. One way a lot of people get into trouble with protein shakes is that they start off using the drinks as meal substitutes and slowly slip into using then in addition to meals. This leads to weight gain which always causes heart problems.
Liver and Kidney Problems
The breakdown products of a high protein diet can be difficult to process for liver and kidneys. Some proteins are not broken down by metabolism and must be broken down by the liver and kidneys. This means that any high protein diet means extra work for these organs. Over a long period of time, this can damage the organs and makes them less efficient. This damage will make the problem worse. Drinking a glass of water along with the protein shake is one thing you can do to reduce the danger.
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