Are protein/meal replacement shakes right for you? Most people on average should be able to get enough protein from their daily food intake, however if you find yourself in circumstances where you can’t, as truckers often do, it’s nice to have a healthy option. An average healthy adult should get from 45-56 grams of protein a day. If you are exercising regularly, weight training or an athlete you may require a little more. Protein and meal replacement shakes are a great alternative for truckers whose nutritional needs can often take a back seat to the job and a hectic, erratic lifestyle. In my case, I supplement breakfast with my protein shake. I find it quick, easy and it gives me my morning energy for the next few hours.
How to choose a protein shake
There are so many protein shakes out there that it can be overwhelming and somewhat confusing to find the right one that suits your nutritional needs. Protein and meal replacement shakes can come in a variety of flavors, in powder or ready-to-drink form and can vary drastically in pricing. Most importantly, protein and meal replacement shakes can vary greatly in nutritional value, so I feel this is where you really need do some research and be sure you know what is in the product you’re buying.
I find the most important information to check on the nutrition labels before deciding on a shake are calories per serving, protein, fat, fiber and sugar content. Some of the products out there claiming to be a healthy meal replacement are outrageously high in sugar content, which defeats the purpose of a healthy alternative. For example, Slim Fast meal replacement shakes may be high in protein at 15 grams, but they also have a whopping 36 grams of sugar per serving. Special K drinks are another one to steer clear of, only 10 grams of protein and 18 grams of sugar. READ LABELS! Don’t be misled!
Where does the protein come from?
Most meal replacement/protein shakes get their protein source from either milk, whey, soy, rice or are vegetarian-plant based. So, if you are lactose intolerant or need to go gluten free, you have some options to choose from. Also, please note that research has been done on soy based products and the connection to allergies, thyroid and immune system issues as well as dangers to pregnant and nursing woman, so again, do your research before making a decision, soy may not work for you personally. I’ve selected a few options below that includes nutritional content, availability and cost to give you some insight when selecting a protein shake.
Carolee’s 3 Picks: Protein Shakes for Truckers
This is my shake of choice. It took me a long time to find a protein shake that didn’t contain any milk or whey, as they seem to be the most popular types of shakes and with my gallbladder problems anything with dairy content does not work! This shake comes in only one flavor, Mixed Berry and I like the taste. I mix mine with half unsweetened almond milk and half water. I find mixing it with water only, makes it taste pretty chalky. This shake is a vegetarian/plant based shake with 15 grams of dairy-free protein per serving. With 21 vitamins and minerals plus Omega 3s, I have stopped taking any other supplements. This shake is low in fat, only 2 grams, zero sugar, 11 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber. The antioxidant (vitamin C) equivalent in this shake is 5 servings of fruits & vegetables. The cost is $9.99 per bag and at 11 servings per bag lasts about a week and a half. Another pro for me is that I have found it is available at most Walmart stores around the country and the bag takes up very little space in our truck. As with most powder shakes available I mix mine in a Blender Bottle, available at Walmart for around $7. It’s convenient, quick and easy to clean up.
GNC is a great source for protein shakes as well as a wide variety of body building, and pre- and post-workout shakes. The downside is that they are pricey, often come in large cumbersome packaging and as a trucker, finding an accessible location may prove difficult. I have chosen just one of the many shakes available to review. It’s the GNC Total Lean Shake. This is a whey, milk based product. It has 200 calories, 24 vitamins & minerals, a mega 25 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbs, it is low in fat at 3 grams and low in sugar at 4 grams. This shake mix comes in a variety of yummy sounding flavors like, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cookies n Cream, French Vanilla and Rich Chocolate to name just a few. The cost is $45.00 per tub (member price is $35.99) and has 16 servings per tub.
This protein powder is sugar, soy & gluten free. The protein comes from brown rice, pea, chia and flax sources. This product has 100 calories, 0 grams of fat or sugar, a little high for me at 19 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of protein per servings. Spiru-tein uses a natural sweetener, Xylitol for low glycemic needs. It comes in a variety of flavors like banana berry, chocolate cherry, tropical fruit and vanilla to name a few. The cost is a little pricey at about $35.00 for a 2.4 pound tub which is 13 servings and is available at Vitamin Shoppe as well as online which makes it a little difficult for us truckers to purchase. Spiru-tein protein shakes also come in sport, whey and soy based varieties.
I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion and differences in protein and meal replacement shakes. As always, do your research. I realize there is a whole other realm out there when it comes to body and muscle building, pre and post workout shakes and we’ll touch on that topic at another time. My goal here was to familiarize you with some options and to bring awareness to the importance of the nutritional value in the products you choose to purchase. Just because something is advertised as good for you doesn’t mean that it always is!
So, until next time, keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up and make healthy choices!