The Importance of Protein Shakes & Why We Made ZEN Fuze™
By Mark Macdonald, ZEN Brand Ambassador & New York Times Best Selling Author
Over the last 20 years as a health professional, there are three questions I am consistently asked:
- Should I use a protein shake?
- What type of protein should I have in my shake?
- What comprises a quality protein shake?
We live in a time when health and supplement information is at our fingertips. This can be an amazing asset if it is science-based information, but it can also be very dangerous because of inaccuracies and over-hyped information.
We hear the word “best” a lot. The concept of something being the “best” is really just an opinion. When talking about protein shakes and throughout this blog, let’s forget about the word “best” and focus on quality, digestion and balance. Those are the three benefits you are always looking for when choosing a shake.
My goal with this blog is simple: I want to educate you on what questions to ask; help you understand the answers to those questions; and, with that knowledge, possess the insight and confidence to choose the protein shake that will assist you in achieving your nutrition and fitness goals.
Why You Need a Protein Shake
(Note: When I’m talking protein shakes, I’m referring to protein powder. It becomes a shake when mixed with liquid, or it can also be used in cereal or to bake/cook with as a protein boost.)
I remember in 1999, teaching clients how to eat PFC Every 3 instead of dieting. (Read here to find out why diets fail). My clients loved the concept, the energy and, most of all, their fantastic results. Their biggest challenge? Finding time to eat a balanced meal of protein, fats and carbs every three hours.
Physiology proves eating small and balanced meals is how our body is meant to be fed — it’s the optimal way to balance your blood sugar levels. But your busy life is still an obstacle. My clients would easily get their breakfast, lunch and dinner in, but finding time to squeeze a meal in during the mid-morning or mid-afternoon was tough.
This is exactly why protein shakes are so important to helping you achieve your goals.
Protein shakes are the most powerful meal-gap fillers, as they are easy to bring, quick to make and provide excellent fuel for your body.
In addition, a quality protein shake powder is much cleaner (less processed) and more easily digested than protein bars and ready-to-drink shakes.
Besides the amazing meal time-saver protein shakes provide, there is another super important reason you need a protein shake.
Eating PFC Every 3 means you’ll be eating whole, clean proteins (like chicken, egg whites, fish and turkey) throughout the day. Since eating whole protein five times a day can tax your digestive system, it’s important to add a clean protein shake a couple times a day to give your digestive system a bit of a break.
This is because shakes are already in a liquid form, so the digestive process has already started, creating a perfect resting period between whole protein meals for your digestive tract.
The Type of Protein in Your Shake Matters
The good news is over the past 10 years, millions of people and thousands of health professionals have become clear on why we all need a protein shake in our nutrition plan.
Bad news? It opened up the door for lots of low-quality protein shakes to enter the marketplace. The two most powerful statements when it comes to choosing protein shakes are:
- All protein is not equal
- You get the quality you pay for
We get sucked in to just looking at the nutrition label on a bag or tub of protein. We fool ourselves into thinking that because it has a good amount of protein or the price works in our budget, it’s just as good as the other shakes on the market. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
Here are the 5 main types of protein in shakes, listed from highest quality to lowest quality:
- Whey Protein and Micellar Casein
- This combination has been shown to provide the best of both worlds in a shake. Whey protein and micellar casein both come from milk, but your body digests them differently. Whey protein gets digested quickly, while micellar casein is digested at a much slower rate. Since shakes are already in a liquid form, they are digested quickly, and most shakes only keep you satisfied for one or two hours. But this protein blend helps prolong the digestion period, keeping you satisfied longer than other forms.
- TruCELLE™: The Next Level of Protein. When formulating ZEN Fuze, we took this protein blend to the next level with an exclusive micellar casein blend called TruCELLE. TruCELLE has been clinically proven to slow the digestive process better than micellar casein alone. This is why the protein blend in ZEN Fuze is extremely powerful.
- This combination of protein is typically the most expensive. Remember, you get the quality you pay for. Because whey and casein come from milk, they cannot be made like soy protein. This creates a supply and demand, and the cost of protein depends on the amount of available whey and casein on the market — similar to how gasoline prices are determined by the available oil in the marketplace.
- I explained whey protein above. Many shakes only contain whey protein. The big challenge with only using whey protein is that it gets digested super fast by your body and typically leaves you hungry an hour later. The great benefit of whey protein is how it can quickly refuel your muscles. This is why a shake made with both whey protein and micellar casein is always your best choice.
- This type of protein is good quality, but the two downsides most people share are taste and digestion. Shakes need to be a staple in your nutrition plan, so make sure to only choose quality shakes you like the taste of and enjoy drinking.
- My top recommended shake is of course ZEN Fuze. It’s the shake I’ve wanted to be part of making my entire career. But ZEN Fuze is made from milk, and there are many plant-based eaters in the world. If you are a vegan, make sure to choose a plant-based shake that is made with hemp or other plant-based sources of protein that are not soy.
- The most inexpensive and lowest quality shakes are made with soy protein. Soy beans can be made (genetically modified) or grown naturally, so there is an abundance of soy, unlike whey and casein. Soy is also a lower quality protein (has less nitrogen per gram), is harder to digest, and when consumed in abundance can cause an estrogen imbalance in men and women.
Your Protein Shake Checklist
Now you understand why you need a protein shake, and why the type of protein in your shake matters. Let’s bring it all together with a protein shake checklist.
This checklist is a quick way to separate the “fake” shakes from the real deal. Simply use this checklist when looking into any shake you are thinking about trying. If the shake doesn’t pass this checklist, move on — it won’t be the quality you need to optimize your digestive system and results.
✓ Includes at least 20 grams of protein per serving.
✓ Contains more protein than carbs and fat.
✓ Includes one of the following types of protein: whey and micellar casein, whey, egg white, plant-based (non-soy). Your first choice should always be whey and micellar casein, preferably ZEN Fuze, due to its TruCELLE protein blend.
✓ Free from soy protein. (Can contain trace amounts of soy in the form of soy lecithin, which has very little soy and is a binder in shakes.)
✓ Gluten-free (assists with better digestion).
✓ At least 5 grams of fiber (helps digestion and keeps you satisfied longer).
✓ Low in sugar (less than 9 grams) and only natural sweetener (like stevia). NO fake sugar sweeteners (aspartame, saccharine, sorbitol, xylitol or sucralose), as these cause gas/bloating.
✓ Great taste!
✓ Bonus: Additional digestive enzymes or probiotics to assist with overall digestive health, because “you are what you metabolize.” This is exactly why we add five strains of probiotics to ZEN Fuze to help with overall intestinal health.
Knowledge is power, and you now have the power to choose the protein shake that’s right for you and your goals.
It’s easy to see why we created ZEN Fuze: Clean, balanced and excellent for your digestive system — not to mention tasty!
And to see all the awesome ways you can work protein into your day with delicious shakes and baked goods, here are a few of our most loved ZEN Fuze recipes.
Get ready to level up!