To play legendary tennis champ Billie Jean King in her new movie, "Battle of the Sexes," Emma Stone underwent a total body transformation worthy of a world class athlete. The Oscar-winning actress trained with Rise Nation founder Jason Walsh, and gained 15 pounds of muscle by the end of it.
To supplement her demanding exercise regimen that included heavy sled pushing, hip thrusting, squatting, lunging and deadlifting, Walsh tweaked the star's diet by increasing calories, which was done through protein shakes that had "hundreds of calories each."
"We also wanted to make sure that she was getting enough calories without feeling disgusting or eating too much, so we put in a couple of shakes that we would do per day, because we were training twice a day on some days," Walsh told the Hollywood Reporter of the "La La Land" star's workout program.
With Stone's impressive results and protein shakes being one of the most widely used supplements out there, it's easy to assume that they really do work wonders for those who are looking to tone up. But just how healthy are protein shakes? Do they really do a body good?
What is a Protein Shake?
Protein shakes consist of some sort of protein, including whey, casein, soy, egg, hemp, rice, and pea protein powders, which are often mixed with a fave fruit and/or veggie. Because protein has many roles in the body, there are a number of benefits of adding extra protein through supplementation, like increasing lean muscle mass, speeding up recovery (injury or after a workout), and strengthening the immune system.
Protein is Necessary to Muscle Up
Looking to sculpt your arms like Stone did? Then you'll need to increase your protein intake. That's because if you don't eat enough protein everyday, your body can become deficient in the amino acids it needs to build and repair muscles, which hinders muscle growth.
"When working with a resistance training program it is essential to be obtaining
enough protein to support the demands of the body," says Robert Raponi, a certified sports nutritionist and naturopathic doctor with a focus on sports medicine. "This can be done through a whole foods diet, however, for busy people on the go, a protein shake is the perfect solution. Furthermore, at a certain point, depending on the demands of training, individuals may require an amount of protein that is just too difficult to obtain
through food alone. In this case, additional protein gained through a shake can be
easier to get down."
Which Protein Shake Should You Use?
"My biggest suggestion is to look for a clean protein source that works well with the
individual. My top choice would be a grass-fed whey isolate," says Raponi. Whey is the most common base for the protein powder, as it contains all of the nine essential amino acids that facilitate the healing of damaged muscles, while whey isolates
currently are the quickest and best absorbed proteins on the market, according to Raponi.
"Typically if dairy is a problem, it is the casein proteins people tend to have issues with and the whey isolates are well tolerated. If dairy is a problem overall, look for a grass-fed
beef protein. They are newer to the market but are complete proteins with great
amino acid profiles," says Raponi. "If looking for vegan or vegetarian sources ensure that it is a blend of multiple plant proteins for a complete amino acid profile."
Aside from the type of protein to look for, Raponi also recommends to look for a protein powder that has little to no sugar, which will only add extra calories.
Consciously Consume Your Shake
"The absolute best time to consume a protein shake would be immediately after a
workout," says Raponi. "Mix with some water or unsweetened dairy alternative and try to consume about 20-30g (of total protein) within two hours of your workout. The sooner the better. After exercise, our body is primed to absorb much more protein into the
muscle and use it to rebuild and repair. Take advantage of this window."
And remember that your shake makes a great supplement to whole foods but shouldn't replace them.
"If you only consumed protein shakes you would not be obtaining the proper amount of nutrition that you need to live optimally and in good health," says Raponi. "Also, consuming more protein than your body needs to carry out all of its functioning will cause the extra protein to be converted and stored as fat. While not the main energy source for the body, protein still can be used as energy and has calories associated with it."
As with everything, moderation is key, and always consult with your doctor or nutritionist before adding more protein to your diet. Don't expect instant results, but over time, the combination of your preferred protein shake with a consistent resistance training could result in some Wimbledon-worthy muscles.
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