A good article on the age old debate amongst nutritionist featuring highly respected US sports nutritionist (Lonnie Lowery) - here are my cliff notes/summary:
- Generally whole foods are superior and should make up the majority of diet (recommended at least 50% of your diet's calories long term), however:
- Protein shake diets (such as the V-Diet) are more effective for fat loss than the traditional restrictive eating due to 'greater behavouiral ease'
- Protein shakes are a great tool for achieving a caloric surplus due to faster gastric emptying, ability to add further calories with ease and drinking calories being easier than chewing them
- Ready to drink shakes = bad due to added ingredients such as corn syrup, sugar, corn, maltodextrin, vegetable oil which can be pro-inflammatory and fattening.
- Protein powders don't spoil like most other protein rich foods - same deal with dietary fat supplements (such as Fish Oil and Flax Seed Oil) that are encapsulated
- Some nurtrients like EPA/DHA (fish), CLA (milk/beef/turkey), Creatine (red meat), Vitamin D (milk/sun exposure) are much easier to , cheaper and often higher quality/safer to supplement rather than consuming via whole foods.
- Supplements may be refined to remove the 'bad stuff' or 'stuff we don't want' like milk protein supplements removing lactose and fish oil supplements removing mercury
- Supplements allow you to have greater precision and timing for tactical use (caffeine vs coffee)
- Fibre supplements can be useful if you're having compliance issues whilst low carb dieting (however vegetables are still far superior due to the phytochemicals you get along with the fibre i.e. study involving smokers and beta-carotene)