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Proof That Protein Shots Are Worthless

I recently received and email from a reader who wanted my opinion on the possible flaws in his diet and training regiment as he was sorely disappointed with the lack of lean muscle gain.

While this is something I typically reserve for a consulting client, I figured I’d take a look at what he’d been doing and see if I could help him out.

In the email he included a few sample days of his diet and what immediately stood out to me was his use of a “protein shot” several times a day. Granted, there’s likely more problems than this with his lack of muscle gain, but it’s certainly one of them.

In today’s post I wanted to share with you what I told him…dump the protein shots!

I’ll give you the reasons why after the jump…

You may have seen or heard someone talk about these new protein shooters, shots, bullets, or whatever you want to call them. Heck, you may have even been tempted to try them yourself.

Basically it’s a flavored shot of protein in small bottle or something that resembles a large test tube.

The lure and attraction of these products is obvious, there’s no need to make up a protein shake when you can just down a flavored 3-5 ounce shot of protein anywhere, anytime.

Taste, convenience, portable, quick and easy. From a marketability standpoint this is money. It’s no wonder why many supplement manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon.

As always there’s a trade-off for convenience. In this case, it’s low quality protein and a bunch of artificial ingredients.

You’ll find some pretty compelling information regarding the benefits, but make no mistake, it’s mostly marketing hype and BS.

Just because a protein shot promotes having 42 or whatever grams of protein, doesn’t mean you’re going to be assimilating all of it or receiving the same benefits compared to other forms of protein.

In my opinion the vast majority of these protein shots are completely worthless and I’ll tell you why.

The downside of protein shots with “collagen protein” as one of the main ingredients…

Take a look at the ingredients list on many of these products and you’ll find collagen protein somewhere at the top. Why in the world would they use collagen protein? Because it’s very cheap, resists denaturing, and has a long shelf life.

From a nutritional standpoint this is low grade protein. Straight talk from a muscle building standpoint it’s garbage.

Why do I say that?

You can do your own research if you like, but here’s the lowdown. Collagen protein has a bioavailability rate of darn near zero.

The PDCAAS score, used by the World Health Organization and FDA to rate the bioavailability and amino acid content of protein sources, has collagen protein rated at 0.08. This is on a scale of zero to one with whey protein for example scoring a one.

See image below for examples of foods and their corresponding score.

Collagen protein contains no Tryptophan, which is one of the ten essential amino acids. It also contains no Cysteine and minimal amounts of Arginine and Leucine. In short, it’s a very incomplete protein, thus the low bioavailability score.

See image below for the classification of amino acids.

So basically what your getting in most of these shots is somewhere around 70% water and 30% low quality protein. Through in some artificial ingredients and perhaps sweeteners like aspartame that you certainly don’t want to be ingesting.

So exactly what is collagen protein?

Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced in the bodies of mammals and is the main component of connective tissues like cartilage along with being found in muscle tissue.

Extraction, as you can probably guess, comes from dead animals like beef cattle. Basically cartilaginous animal materials such as bones, connective tissue, and skin (yeah, the left-over’s), is cooked in order to form a gelatin.

Gelatin is collagen that has experienced partial hydrolysis. Cook a meat bone for soup and you’ll witness the formation of collagen gelatin.

This may sound gross, but it’s exactly where collagen protein comes from. Now you know why it’s so cheap. We’re not talking about an expensive process like manufacturing hydrolyzed whey protein.

Additional reasons why I’m down on collagen based protein shots…

Let me just cut to the chase. I get that these products are convenient, quick and easy to take. But the question becomes, “why are you taking them?”

If you’re trying to make it easier to get in your protein requirements, you’re only cheating yourself. This is especially true if you’re looking to add lean muscle. I mean let’s face it, you want quality protein with high bioavailability like eggs, whey protein, fish, and lean animal meats to build muscle.

Stick with a whey protein shake, a shake with a protein blend, or hard or soft boiled eggs if you’re looking for convenience between meals or post-workout.

In all fairness I have heard of some manufacturers moving towards protein shots made with mostly whey protein. While I haven’t researched these yet, they may show more promise than protein shots with predominately collagen protein.

Even still I think it’s going to be hard to beat a high quality whey protein powder or protein powder blend (casein, milk, whey protein).

Seriously, you can whip up a shake with a shaker cup or bullet mixer in a matter of seconds. If getting the body you want is that important to you, you’ll put forth the time and effort to get in the best quality nutrients.

If you’re getting your protein from Wal-Mart or the local convenience store, you’ll want to re-evaluate your priorities.

For what it’s worth I’d leave these products on the shelf.

Follow a clean diet, use high quality protein powders, train hard, and get adequate rest. That recipe seems to work just fine.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He specializes in helping people achieve a body transformation with burst training exercise and whole food nutrition. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal fitness programs and start experiencing the Shaping Concepts difference today.

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Category: Supplements.