With so many protein shakes on the market, you may be shaking your head in confusion. Which shakes taste good? What is the difference between 100% whey shakes and meal replacement shakes? These are just a few of the questions you may have.
Let’s face it; taste is important. Nobody wants to choke down a protein shake that tastes like mud, no matter how many health benefits you may reap from it.
To determine your ideal protein shake, trial and error may be required until you find your favorite brand and flavor. I recently sampled a few popular selections. Many types of protein shakes exist, with various types of protein, so I focused on meal replacement and 100% whey shakes:
Labrada CarbWatchers Lean Body, Vanilla Ice Cream flavor – This meal replacement shake was made with skim milk, cinnamon, peanut butter and ice. It had a rich vanilla flavor. The cinnamon and peanut butter nicely complemented the vanilla but weren’t overpowering. Meal replacement shakes tend to have a higher amount of carbohydrates, but CarbWatcher’s statistics are impressive. The vanilla flavor is the star of this shake, and makes it an all-star selection.
2.29 ounce packet:
40 grams protein
12 grams carbohydrates
3 grams sugar
4.5 grams fat
MuscleTech 100% Premium Whey Protein Plus, Chocolate Deluxe flavor – This 100% whey protein shake was made with skim milk, peanut butter and ice. The chocolate flavor in this shake was more mild than deluxe. Peanut butter and chocolate is a classic flavor combination, of course, but MuscleTech’s shake was a bit subtle for my taste. The mild flavor is ideal for those not possessing a sweet tooth, but for me, I’m cuckoo for cocoa.
20 grams protein
9 grams carbohydrates
2 grams sugar
1 gram fat
Optimum Nutrition Performance Whey, Vanilla Shake flavor – This 100% whey protein shake was made with skim milk, cinnamon, peanut butter and ice. I consider this the Goldilocks of vanilla-flavored shakes, with its moderate vanilla flavor. The cinnamon and peanut butter shone through, since Optimum Nutrition’s vanilla flavor was more subtle. The shake was decent, but compared to the Labrada CarbWatchers Lean Body….well, there was no comparison.
1.34 ounce packet:
22 grams protein
9 grams carbohydrates
3 grams sugar
4 grams fat
I sampled these shakes at my gym, Gold’s Gym NE St. Petersburg, where they custom-blend shakes for protein-depleted members. Shake brands and flavors may vary among Gold’s locations. Many other fitness facilities throughout Tampa Bay have shake bars as well. So chances are, protein shakes are available at whichever gym you belong to. If your home is your gym, canisters and packets of meal replacement and whey shakes are available at local nutrition and vitamin stores.
Now, what is the difference between 100% whey shakes and meal replacement shakes? It comes down to what you’re looking for in a shake.
“Whey shakes are just protein, but meal replacement shakes include a blend of proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and calories, which are in a typical meal. Labrada CarbWatchers Lean Body is popular because it tastes good and replaces a meal. With shakes made of 100% whey, you’re hungry an hour later because they’re solely protein,” explained John Hunter, Sales Manager at Gold’s Gym NE St. Petersburg.
If you consider your post-workout shake to be your next meal, you will likely say “no whey” to a 100% whey shake. But if you are watching your calories and carbohydrates, 100% whey shakes may be your best bet. Either way, both meal replacement and 100% whey shakes are packed with rapid-absorbing proteins that will satisfy your muscles and your taste buds post-workout.