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Powder Power: Should I Be Drinking Protein Shakes?

Regularly blending protein powder into smoothies can help boost energy levels, build endurance, and provide important nutrients you're not receiving. But do you really need a hefty dose of protein in one sitting?

The truth is, most people don't. Most powders and pre-made shakes offer at least 15 grams of protein per serving, and the majority of women easily hit or exceed the average requirement of approximately 46 grams per day by eating a balanced diet that includes animal protein. With that said, strict vegetarians and vegans are encouraged to try protein powder. Animal-free eaters who have a shake for breakfast won't have to worry about how they'll find all their protein during the course of a busy day when there isn't time to cook.

Besides those who might not be hitting requirements through diet, protein powder is a good choice for extremely active individuals and endurance athletes. During endurance workouts — especially strength training — muscles are broken down, and it's protein that helps aid in the body's full repair and full recovery. After any intense strength-training workout, try to eat a snack of protein and carbs within an hour of your workout ending to help in this process.

Overall, protein powders are a helpful resource, but you've got to be honest about what your body actually needs. And beyond taking your body type and level of activity into consideration, choose a high-quality, natural protein powder, since too much protein or certain shakes can be detrimental to your body's health. For folks who don't love using (or cleaning) their blender regularly, there are other options. One of these vegetarian post-workout snacks or on-the-go packaged foods can also help you receive your recommended amount of daily protein, no blender necessary.

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