WHEN it comes to breakfast, liquids are the new solids. Over the past few years, the health movement has become fixated on smoothies and protein shakes.
Even Khloe Kardashian is known to sink back a shake after her morning workouts and slender Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr swears by a vegan option.
But here's the deal: your protein powder could be responsible for those extra kilos you're carrying.
Lyndi Cohen, a Sydney-based, accredited dietitian, nutritionist and founder of The Nude Nutritionist, sets the facts straight.
They're not as healthy as you think
"Protein powders are being marketed as a healthy alternative to real food and I just don't think that's the case. The premise behind a powder is that it's meant help you replenish your lost stores of protein, particularly after exercising," says Lyndi.
"It's quite a heavily processed product and is made up of reconstituted milk particles. I'm always an advocate for choosing real wholefoods instead of using packaged, processed foods. I think consumers are getting duped into thinking that adding protein supplements into their diet is going to be of benefit, when in my opinion, it's overrated and costly.
"Very often, people buy into them thinking that they're going to suddenly be healthier if they start using a protein powder. But we're just paying for extra calories and more processed foods in our bodies."
They could be making you fat
"If you've added a protein powder on top of what you're already eating and you're not exercising enough to justify it, then it's definitely going to make you gain weight," says Lyndi.
"The everyday person who is doing their daily exercise at a medium pace or intensity doesn't need a protein powder. Particularly if you're looking to lose weight, I wouldn't recommend them.
"If you're looking for that protein hit to replenish stores, you're better off choosing some real food options like nuts, a glass of milk, some yoghurt, two boiled eggs, even a piece of wholegrain toast with some peanut butter on it is also a delicious option. When you chew food you recognise that you've eaten.\
"It's also much easier to drink calories than it is to eat them. When you drink, there isn't any fibre to slow down the digestive process, so you absorb more calories."
When you consume it is key
"If you're missing the half-hour gap to replenish protein after exercising, then you may as well not be having it at all. It's a very key time for you to have the protein powder to make sure it's actually being used by your body.
"I think that's a big mistake people make, they'll just have it at any time of the day. I'd recommend them for anyone who's working out for a long period of time at a really high intensity and needs support in replacing their lost protein stores after exercising. If you're really struggling to gain weight then I would also recommend adding a protein powder into your diet."
Choose one with carbs
"You want to be having around 15 to 20 grams of protein within half an hour of exercise," Lyndi says.
"So you'd want one serving size to contain about that much protein in it. I'd also be encouraging you to ensure there are a bit of carbohydrates in the protein powder. If it's too high in protein and there isn't enough carbohydrates, you're not going to replenish your muscles and your glycogen stores.
"Your muscles work on both protein and carbohydrates. There is a movement recently to just go purely protein, because apparently carbs are fattening and once again that's not the case. One that's minimally processed with the most natural ingredients is a good pick.
They often tend to be a bit more lean if you are using a more plant-based or vegan protein powder."