Guest Post: All-in-one History of Protein Shakes


If you thought bodybuilding and serious involvement in sport is mere exercising and pushing your body to its limits, think again. Of course, building up your muscle mass is crucial. However, you won’t get far with just that alone.

In the era of food full of additives, one might frown upon the mere mention of supplements. However, these – especially protein shakes – have had great impact on sports and bodybuilding development.

Official data shows that an average grown-up should consume approximately 50 grams of protein per day. However, additional proteins are taken by people who aim at building their body and muscle mass, thus making protein shakes one of the most important supplement products since the 1950s.

So, how did this all come to be?

Some stories of protein shakes go back to ancient times, when people first discovered whey. It was Hippocrates who first noticed its positive effects on health. Galen followed in his footsteps and eventually influenced medicine for centuries to come.

Fast forward to 1700s, whey protein started being widely used for making a medicinal tonic for the treatment of the sickly. In the following period, it was widely enjoyed by the rich all over Europe.

Finally, we get to the 20th century and the birth of protein shakes as we know them today. In the 1950s, in the eve of modern bodybuilding, protein shakes emerged as an easy way of gaining muscle mass. Among the first powder mixtures available was Bob Hoffman’s Hi-Proteen. It mainly contained soy flour and a lot of sweeteners, and along with other similar products, protein shakes came to be a relatively cheap mass builder.


Naturally, the science behind protein shakes improved over the following decades. Perhaps this is partly due to more detailed studies and research and, of course, the rise in popularity of bodybuilding. Namely, one of the first nutritional theorists, Rheo H. Blair, introduced Blair Protein Powder. One of the reasons for its phenomenal success is the fact it contained egg protein, as well as casein protein. This was a significant upgrade, since casein contains large amounts of calcium and an abundance of amino acids, which makes it not only excellent for the bones, but also a fantastic stamina and strength booster.

The seventies brought numerous protein shakes to the market – Zero Carb Protein, Unipro, SuperCal and Heavyweight Gainer 900, to mention a few. But the most significant change was that in the popularity of bodybuilding, which seemed to have rocketed in this era.


However, things made a significant turn for the better with A. Scott Connelly and Dan Duchaine taking the stage. A. Scott Connelly founded Met RX, which was to launch products based on specific powder types and amino acid profiles based on baby milk. The result of their rather aggressive advertising campaign is the fact that they went on to become the leaders in the industry. They also introduced various protein shakes that could be consumed several times a day.

What’s Actually in Your Protein Powder?

So, where do we stand today, you may wonder. Well, nowadays, there is a myriad of companies, each offering numerous varieties of powdered protein drinks. Needless to say, all the ingredients come in different forms, but eventually they are turned into powder and mixed in a large industrial agitator, specifically designed to smoothen the powder and make the grains even for your perfect drink. All protein shakes have the following ingredients in common:

  • whey: despite being a by-product of cheese, whey contains three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine, all indispensable when it comes to tissue repair and growth.
  • lecithin: an unavoidable ingredient of many different food products, lecithin is actually soy fat. Its role is to make your shake drinkable by preventing it from clumping. Thanks again, soy.
  • Xanthan gum: it’s there to make the texture thicker. The texture of the drink, that is, not your muscles.
  • Stevia extract, a.k.a. Raubidioside A: makes your drink sweeter, without adding calories to it.
  • Aminogen: this enzyme compound helps your body get the best out of the protein shake, making sure most of the proteins are absorbed.

Obviously, not all the compulsory ingredients are there to boost and build your muscles, but since you will definitely not treat yourself to a strawberry cheesecake or cinnamon roll, at least you can have a protein shake that tastes like one.


About the Author:

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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