Recently, Best Food Facts received a reader question. Shelly asked, "I see Facebook pages of people advocating against GMOs but promoting the use of protein shakes. What’s in them and are they healthy?" We asked nationally-renowned nutrition and fitness expert Dr. Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of California-Davis, to answer the questions.
Is it OK to consume protein shakes made from GMO ingredients?
Dr. Applegate: First of all, I don’t have a problem with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. But, if people want to avoid them they should use a protein supplement made from organic ingredients, which cannot contain genetically modified material.
What's in protein shakes?
Dr. Applegate: Protein shakes often contain a “protein isolate” – which means they’ve taken a protein from milk (usually casein or whey or both) or possibly egg albumen. Soy, peanut, pea, and flour are also proteins you might find listed as ingredients. Some of these products used to contain “hydrolyzed animal protein” but very few protein supplement products are using that anymore because they got criticized for it. It’s just connective tissue from animals and it’s not the highest quality.
How much protein should you consume after exercise?
Dr. Applegate: If you’re taking a protein shake after you exercise, you want to aim for 20 to 25 grams of protein per serving. Perhaps the product is a powder that you mix with water or some kind of flavored liquid. If it has that amount of protein and the types of protein I mentioned – you should be OK.
Should you consume protein shakes?
Dr. Applegate: I always tell athletes that they really should be counting on their food as their foundation for vitamins and minerals. Then, if they want to use a protein shake as a supplement, then they’re just layering that on top. I don’t think a protein shake should be a replacement for eating fruits and vegetables.
Where does most of the protein you consume come from?