Are protein shakes healthy?

We take your most burning health questions and ask our healthy eating expert, Sydney naturopath Hayley Stockbridge, to answer them. Apart from her impressive qualifications, we trust Hayley because she literally has no wrinkles, at all. She could be 25 or 35, we don’t know! But to be honest, we like the mystery. She obviously knows what she’s talking about when it comes to healthy eating… This week we look at a question we keep asking ourselves here in the URBANSWEAT office… are protein shakes actually healthy?

Hayley says: “This is a hard one to answer directly, as some protein shakes can be a very nutritious addition to your daily diet, while others are far from healthy. Unfortunately, most of the protein powders available on the market are highly processed and loaded with colours, sugars, flavours, preservatives and other nasty ingredients. They make many outrageous claims on the label and may appear to be good for you, but are very artificial and not what I would call a nutritious food!

When you’re looking to buy one, always have a read of the ingredients panel before checking out the nutritional panel for the carb, sugar, fat and protein content. The ingredients panel will tell you very quickly whether the protein shake is loaded with rubbish or if it’s a healthy one. Basically, you want one with minimal ingredients – a simple form of protein from whey, rice or pea protein and not much else (three-four ingredients at most). And those other ingredients will usually be a small amount of something for flavour, such as vanilla extract or cacao, which is fine.

But yes, a protein shake can be very nutritious addition to your diet if you make it into your own superfood smoothie. Here’s the basic idea behind it:

1) Use a healthy protein powder as a base
2) Put it together with your choice of milk into a blender (I like unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
3) Add some frozen fruit (Try berries, mango or banana)
4) Add some nutritious superfoods additions (Chia seeds, LSA, cacao, acai powder, bee pollen, flaxseed meal, maca powder, turmeric or lacuna are all good)
5) Finish off with a little cinnamon or vanilla powder to taste

This recipe will give you a well-balanced and nutritious protein shake to have as breaky or a snack. You just need to play around with the qualities to work out what taste you like!”


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