Nutrition shakes are often used as meal replacements to jump-start weight loss, build muscle or supplement your diet, so it is important that the shake you choose contains a sufficient amount of protein, minerals and vitamins for good health.
Most nutrition shakes contain only a small amount of fiber, and many have excessive sodium. The protein content and quality is the most distinguishing element for comparing nutrition shakes.
According to Healthline.com, the average man should consume 56 grams of protein a day, while the average women should consume 46 grams of protein a day for optimal health. Protein is necessary for the growth, maintenance and repair of every cell, tissue, muscle and organ in your body.
Nutrition shakes supply protein from various sources without the calories and fat content of many animal-based proteins such as meat. The most common protein sources in nutritional shakes include whey, soy and casein, each with unique properties.
Nutrition shakes made with whey contain the highest quality of protein. Whey protein, derived from milk without the fat or lactose sugar, is the fastest digested and absorbed protein.
Leucine, a potent amino acid in whey, stimulates rapid protein synthesis releasing all the amino acids required for maximum muscle maintenance, according to Jeff Volek, PhD, R.D., of Nutrition Express.
While brands differ in terms of calories, the majority of 100-percent whey protein nutritional shakes provides between 100 and 120 calories per scoop, two to three grams of fat, two to seven grams of carbohydrates, zero to three grams of dietary fiber, one to three grams of sugar and 15 to 25 grams of protein, according to LIVESTRONG.COM's food database MyPlate.
Nutrition shakes that derive protein from soybeans, usually in isolate form, contain the complete group of amino acids. Shakes with soy are not as easily assimilated as whey shakes but are comparable to meat and milk in digestibility.
Nutrition shakes that contains protein from soy provide anywhere from 10 to 13 grams of protein per scoop and 85 to 100 calories, according to MyPlate, along with zero to grams of fat, 7.5 to 10 grams of carbohydrates, zero to three grams of dietary fiber and zero to 3.5 grams of sugar.
Casein Nutrition Shakes
Nutrition shakes made with casein, the most abundant protein in milk, are often harder to digest than shakes based on whey. However, the slower rate of digestion means a steady, longer-lasting release of amino acids into the body.
A typical nutrition shake made with casein contains 24 grams of protein with 120 calories and zero grams of fat. The carbohydrate content is five grams with two grams of sugar.
Many nutrition shakes are made with a combination of casein and whey since whey rapidly increases protein synthesis and casein blocks protein breakdown.
More About MyPlate
The free LIVESTRONG MyPlate calorie tracker app for iPhone and Android has helped millions of people lose weight the healthy way — by getting support from an active community as they track their eating and exercise. Consistently a top-rated app, MyPlate offers the latest technology in an easy-to-use tool that includes millions of foods and recipes, 5-minute in-app workouts and a robust support community.