Over the past few years, it seems like everyone has become aware of how important protein is to our diet.
People who eat meat will likely get enough of it in their diet, but for vegetarians, vegans, or those on other plant-based diets, it can sometimes be a challenge to get enough through an everyday diet.
It is also a great idea to boost your protein if you work out a lot and are looking to build and maintain your muscles.
For those following a low or no carb “keto” or ketogenic diet, protein becomes the most important source of energy.
How much protein do we need?
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, women should eat around 45g of protein a day and men 56g.
As well as meat and dairy, protein can be found in fish, soya products, pulses, nuts and seeds.
However, it is worth being aware that a lack of protein can lead to a number of health problems, as protein is vital for a number of physiological processes and tissue repair.
For more information on protein, see this great article on the Health Hub.
For anyone requiring a high-protein diet, or if you are already aware that you should be getting more protein in your diet, protein supplements can be game changing.
Not only do many of them provide complete protein, meaning all the various types of amino acids we need, but they are convenient and – more often than not – delicious!
Modern protein supplements have come a long way from the powdery, dense drinks of the 1980s.
Today, there are many different types to try, including powders, ready-made protein shakes, shots and more, making it easy to get your daily dose.
Protein shake bottles
By far the easiest way to get an extra jolt of protein is via ready-made protein shakes.
They have a huge 24g of protein in each bottle and they are under 200 calories with no added sugar.
They are also available to bulk-buy in trays of 12.
We also love UFIT protein drinks, which also come in strawberry or chocolate, and as single bottles or in trays of eight.
One innovative product in the UFIT shakes stable is UFIT Collagen + Beauty Milk.
Enriched with vitamin C and other vitamins, it also helps contribute to normal collagen formation.
Other protein shake drinks
Other types of protein shake include powders that you make up into shakes.
They are brilliantly versatile – you can add them to smoothies and yoghurt, as well as make them into their own drinks.
They also often provide better value for money than single drinks. And, as there is less plastic waste, they are more environmentally friendly.
Great examples include USN Muscle Fuel Anabolic Strawberry a whey-based product that comes in 2kg and 4kg tubs; and Pulsin Supershake Energy Cacao & Maca which is made from plant protein and so is perfect for vegans.
How to incorporate protein shakes into your diet
It is a fine balance between increasing your protein for weight loss or weight gain purposes and adding too much extra fat or calories to your intake.
For those who are exercising with the goal of gaining muscle, it is suggested that you introduce supplements gradually, by taking 1/2 portions to start and work up to the full amount.
Supplements and shakes are best interspersed between your usual meals, after a workout and before bed.
Always make sure you eat a balanced diet otherwise, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy carbohydrates and fats.
And it is always best to consult your doctor before embarking on any weight gain or loss programme if you have any other health conditions.
Our bodies rely on three macronutrients to survive: fat, carbohydrates and protein.
Of these, only protein has reached cult status in the workout and health food world.
Getting enough protein can help you to maintain a good, healthy metabolism and weight.
Most of us will get the protein we need in our daily diet. However, some people choose healthy protein shakes for weight loss, while others use protein drinks to power their workouts and help them build muscle.
One of the most popular uses for protein shakes is to help bulk up. Essential for building lean muscle, protein powders are often used alongside a body building regime.
Whey protein in particular has been shown to maximise body building workouts.
This is because fast-absorbing whey contains leucine, important for muscle synthesis. It also stimulates the production of anabolic hormones, responsible for muscle growth.
A wide range of protein drinks now exists, so you are not limited to a single type. Whatever your preferences and requirements, there is probably a shake to suit.
Keto protein shakes are particularly popular with body builders, sports enthusiasts and fitness influencers.
Whey and casein proteins are the preferred drinks for keto, low as they are in carbohydrates.
For those on a vegan or dairy-free diet, numerous options exist. These drinks, some alternative milk based, others made with water, contain plant-based forms of protein, such as pea, soy or rice.
Meal replacement drinks have come on a long way since the cardboard flavoured shakes of the 1980s.
From chocolate protein shakes to tropical workout shots, there is almost certainly a protein drink out there to tickle your tastebuds.
Protein drinks have made headline news on and off over the years but the most up to date research suggests that protein supplements, used correctly, are safe and effective.
It is important to use protein drinks as a supplement to a healthy diet and exercise, not as a quick fix.
And it is always a good idea to consult your GP or a nutritionist before making significant changes to your diet.