Protein is an essential nutrient that helps the body build and repair muscles. It also helps us stay full and satisfied after meals, making it easier to lose weight. While protein supplements come in many forms, powders are one of the most popular options for overall health. Though there are a ton of different brands on the market, not all protein powder is created equally. Here’s what you need to know before you buy any kind of protein powder.
What is protein powder?
Protein powder is a supplement that contains protein in powdered form, and is an essential nutrient for the body, and it helps us build muscles and stay satisfied. Most protein powders come from milk or soybeans, but plant-based options are also available.
Protein supplements, such as whey protein and soy protein powder, are processed foods that contain significant amounts of proteins. Whey is the most popular source because it's rich in Essential Amino Acids (EAA), which promote muscle recovery after a workout. In addition to providing your body with essential amino acids for building and preserving lean muscle mass, these products also help you meet daily requirements by supplying other nutrients like Vitamin D or Calcium.
There are two main types of protein: animal and plant. Animal-based protein is more popular for athletes because it’s harder to find a plant-based protein with the same levels of amino acids. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you have even more options to explore. We'll cover vegan and plant-based proteins later, for now, let's dive into whey protein!
The main difference between the three is their concentration of protein and carbohydrates. Whey Protein Isolate has a higher percentage of protein than WPC, but fewer carbs. Whey Protein Hydrolysate contains all amino acids in peptide form (small chains) for easy absorption.
Whey protein is one of two proteins found in milk. The macro-components of milk are fat, sugar, and protein (whey and casein). Whey typically originates from bovine milk.
Once the whey has reached 80% protein, it can be dried to form whey protein concentrate (WPC) powder. Whey concentrate consists of 80% protein and 20% fat and sugar (carbohydrates, lactose).
Who should take protein powder?
The answer to this question largely depends on your goals and how much protein you need in a day. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight and build muscle, you should take protein powder. If you don’t exercise often or are looking to replace a meal with a shake, then taking a powder is probably not the right choice for you.
How much protein do I need?
The answer is it depends on your activity level and weight. The American Dietetic Association recommends protein intake of between 10-35% for adults. That’s about 15-105 grams per day for women and 18-125 grams per day for men [R].
Are protein shakes actually good for you?
Protein shakes are a convenient way to increase your daily protein intake, but it’s not always a good idea. Protein shakes are made up of processed protein, which is usually void of the nutrients that you can get from eating whole foods like veggies and meat. There is also the issue with an unhealthy diet. If you're eating burgers and fries then drinking a shake with your burger and fries, you'll be consuming way too much salt, sugar, fat, and calories. The only exception might be if you're currently on a weight-loss diet or eliminating carbs from your diet. Another thing to watch out for: is the sugar content. There's no limit for how many grams of sugar can go into one serving size of a protein shake -- so it could end up being more than a candy bar. If you want to enjoy protein shakes in moderation, opt for brands that use natural ingredients (i.e.: no artificial sweeteners) and those that contain at least 4 grams of fiber per serving to keep you feeling full longer [R].
Can I drink protein shakes without working out?
Many people drink protein shakes without working out. Protein shakes are useful for weight loss and muscle building and can be beneficial in several other ways too. But is it possible to drink them while not working out? Can they help you lose weight if you don’t work out at all?
Protein shakes do have many benefits, but their main focus is on building muscle mass or losing weight. So, you won't receive any benefits from drinking protein shakes if you're not working out. For example, if you're trying to lose fat but aren't exercising, protein shakes won't help with that goal as much. To get the most benefits from your shake, make sure that you are also doing some form of physical activity like strength training or cardio so that the shake will work its magic.
Benefits of drinking protein shakes.
Protein shakes are a great way to get your daily protein intake. Protein shakes are easy and convenient, as they can be taken on the go or even in the morning before you head off to work. For optimal results, drink one (1) protein shake after completing a workout to get the nutrients your muscles need to begin repairing the fibers.
There are many benefits of drinking protein shakes. The first is that they provide you with a quick and healthy meal replacement when you’re on the go or traveling. This is especially helpful if you need to keep your calories down for weight loss purposes -- just be sure to count the nutrition facts and make sure it doesn't go over 100 calories per shake serving.
Another benefit is that they can help sustain muscle mass during weight loss periods by providing us with an adequate amount of protein every day. They also help curb cravings and make us feel fuller after we've eaten less caloric foods, making it easier for us to lose weight over time.
Finally, many people like to drink protein shakes because they can provide variety in their diet -- most people only eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so adding a shake for one of those meals can break up the monotony of our everyday eating schedule while also adding additional protein to your diet.
How to use protein shakes.
There are a lot of ways to use protein shakes. They can be mixed into smoothies, baked goods, and even oatmeal. But one of the most popular ways is with water, which makes it easy to get all the protein you need in one sitting.
- 1 cup liquid (milk, juice, or water)
- 1 scoop protein powder (in most cases - see directions on bottle)
Blend on high speed until smooth or with a shaker bottle. Adding ice is optional if desired, and blend. Protein powders come in a variety of flavors such as cookies and cream, peanut butter, chocolate, vanilla, and so on. When watching your total calorie intake for the day, avoid adding any additional mixes to the shake (peanut butter, fruit, toppings, etc.).
Side effects of protein shakes and powders.
Protein shakes are not the most natural option for protein, but they're a great way to get an extra boost of protein when your diet lacks the total amount you should be consuming per day, per body weight.
The main side effect is that many people feel nauseous after drinking one [R] however this is not common. If you use a protein powder that causes any discomfort with your stomach or affects digestion, contact your primary physician.
The best way to avoid this is to drink the shake with a meal or at least six hours before bedtime. Make sure you also drink water along with your shake to stay hydrated and avoid bloating.
Pro Tip - We recommend adding digestive enzymes to any high-protein diet. This helps break down the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to assure your body absorbs the nutrients more efficiently. This may also assist with feeling bloated after drinking a protein shake. Some brands create proteins that have digestive enzymes (or digestive support) added to the powder.
Protein shakes are a quick and convenient meal or snack for individuals who don't have time to cook. They can also be helpful as a supplement in order to build muscle, lose weight, and just become healthier overall.
However, protein is not right for every person so it's important that you're aware of the side effects before drinking your shake. If you have any doubt about taking protein shakes be sure you consult with your physician before consuming.
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