Protein shakes: Why you should look out for too much sugar in your shakes

Forget protein shakes full of artificial sugars: MyProtein's new Clear Whey Isolate brings out the low-cal tropical flavors for summer

Protein shake
(Image credit: Derick McKinney (Unsplash))

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If you've not tried protein shakes as a way to help your training yet, they're a great way to help your body recover and build muscle. If you're starting your fitness journey by lifting weights, and wondering why you're not seeing much in the way (or should that be whey?) of results, it might be that you're not getting enough protein. 

Protein is very important as it's the building block of muscle. If you're doing lots more exercise than you used to, especially if you're doing resistance training like push ups, sit ups or weightlifting, you need to get more of it in your diet. 

Protein shakes are an easy solution to this problem: you can fit them in between meals in place of a snack and they're packed full of protein, often between 20g and 30g per scoop. 

Many commercial protein powders - including those on our best protein powder for weight loss list - are made with whey isolate, a dairy by-product, while others are made with soy, pea protein and other vegan-friendly alternatives. However, lots of them share a common problem: they're often full of artificial sugar and sweeteners. 

A Harvard University report writes the following:

"Some protein powders have little added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. 

"The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men."

When selecting a protein powder that's right for you, make sure you find something with a fairly low added sugar content.

UK brand MyProtein have got you covered with the launch of three new flavors in its Clear Whey isolate range. Said to be more like juice than a traditional protein shake, the range still packs 20g of protein in a shake that works out at just 90kcal per scoop. 

now £21.99 at MyProtein

MyProtein Clear Whey Isolate protein powder | now £21.99 at MyProtein
Mango & Coconut, Watermelon and Cranberry and Raspberry are joining the summery shake's low-cal lineup. Even better, the shakes work out at just 0.3g of sugar per scoop, aiming to feel like a lighter juice rather than a stodgy vanilla or chocolate shake. Perfect for summer, or for those looking for a high-protein shake with less sugar. 

Too much sugar in your shake is obviously a bad thing: it encourages fat storage instead of weight loss and decreases the sensitivity of insulin in your bloodstream, so you burn less sugar off as energy in the future. 

Instead of undermining your workout efforts, pick a protein shake with a low added sugar content and watch yourself gain muscle and lose weight with ease. 

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.