Crudely put, protein meals are solid, and protein shakes are more or less in liquid or powder form (to be mixed with liquid for consumption.) Both are practically the same, except probably in form and in the ability of the body to digest and imbibe either one.
It is much easier to prepare a drink of protein shake than preparing, cooking and eating a steak. ln practical terms, the body needs to have a positive nitrogen balance which means it needs to consume protein every three hours. A protein supplement would be most appropriate.
Proteins are considered one of the most important nutrients needed by the body. In simpler context, they are the building blocks for tissues and muscles. You would need proteins if you want to use energy, as well as create and repair tissues in the body.
There are many tasks that proteins do for the body, but everyone needs at least 30 grams of protein every day just to have the immune system alone to function. Protein intake and the sources of protein are both important.
The most accessible among sources of protein food is meat. The other protein sources include nuts and seeds, eggs, some vegetables and legumes. The protein content of each one, however, is different from one another.
A complete protein food is one that has all the amino acids that the body will use. Amino acids are the components of proteins, in a manner of speaking. The body has some of them (create them from other sources), but the others must come from the food we eat.
Vegetarians who choose limited plant sources for their proteins are missing some essential amino acids. Proteins with natural fats are better for building muscles and burning fats than simple proteins alone.
There are many commercial forms of protein powders these days. (Protein shakes are protein powders that are already pre-mixed with some liquid.) There are whey and casein proteins, meat and egg isolates, and some other protein powders for vegans.
Another distinction between protein powder and protein food is ease in digestion and fat component. Eating a steak, for instance, allows the steady but slower rate of amino acids to be taken into the body, and the release into the blood stream is also slower.
In powder form (like those in whey), the absorption of the amino acids are faster. This triggers a higher response of insulin compared to the slow digestion of the proteins in the meat. In a workout, this works great, but not in an everyday scenario during mealtimes.
Protein powders (and their shakes) don’t have fat content. Taking it as a substitute for the protein meat will not produce the synergistic action when eating meat and fish. However, taking both the food and the powders is okay, whether one is building muscles in workouts or just trying to lose fat.
The message is simple. When you need to have a faster intake of amino acids (like after workouts), drink up your shake. All other times, take your protein in food form when not in training. Both are good and are beneficial.