Benefits of Protein Powder
Protein is an essential nutrient for the human body. Protein is made up of amino acids which are used to build structural tissues such as muscles, bones, and tendons. Important. Amino acids also form important hormones, co-enzymes, and even blood-cells. Protein is required to keep every system in the body running optimally, and must be continuously supplied by the diet.
Simply eating protein is not a cure-all, and will not provide you with perfect health. Rather, balancing protein with other nutrients in a healthy diet will provide you with optimal fuel that will help you feel your best.
In our buyer’s guide, we identified whey-based protein as the most popular protein powder on the market. Many of the benefits we discuss here will be based on benefits seen with whey protein. However, if you use a different type of powdered protein supplement, many of these benefits will also apply to you as your body does a great job of utilizing protein from many sources. We will discuss how protein powder can help you reach your goals and how to make sure you are getting the most out of your protein supplement.
Protein powders vary according to protein source (whey, casein, collagen or plant-based varieties such as soy, pea or hemp) which supply different amino acids to the body. Furthermore, not all powders are manufactured the same way and might contain other nutrients that aren’t protein. Depending on your goals, you may prioritize certain ingredients over others, check our protein guide to find the supplement that is right for you.
Here we will explore some of the benefits of utilizing protein powder in your fitness regime.
As A Supplement
Eating protein-heavy meals three or four times a day can be time consuming and expensive. By adding a little boost of protein powder to a shake or smoothie, you can get a good source of protein in a matter of seconds. While some protein powders can seem expensive, if you buy them in bulk (as we discuss in our protein powder buyer’s guide) you can find supplements that supply over 20 grams of protein for around a dollar per serving.
Remember that protein powders are simply supplying you with protein, maybe a small amount of carbohydrate or fat, but very little else. You shouldn’t be replacing your meals with protein powder, but instead use them as a pre or post workout boost to supply a little extra protein into an already healthy diet. Important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential to human health are going to be found in whole, healthy foods such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat.
Ghrelin is the hormone in the human body that makes you feel hungry. Some of us feel hungry all the time even after consuming a normal sized meal. Protein helps satiate this feeling and can help the body feel content and satisfied after eating. Many people who are trying to reduce calorie intake to lose weight can be bothered by persistent hunger. Eating a little more protein with a healthy diet can be a helpful strategy for keeping hunger at bay.
After working out and putting stress on your muscles (resulting in micro-tears and tissue damage) your body immediately begins to repair and rebuild. If you supply your body with the necessary protein, muscles will grow back stronger than before. The important thing to realize is that you won’t see results tomorrow or the day after. Only through consistent, correct exercise can you achieve your goals over time.
When you eat any protein containing food, such as meat, eggs, or dairy for example—you aren’t just consuming protein. Your body takes in many other nutrients as well, such as minerals, carbohydrates, and fats to name a few. Some protein powders will provide a few other nutrients that can be helpful to a body undergoing a lot of exercise. When you begin your research of which powder you want to invest it, it’s not uncommon to see them advertised with additional ingredients.
Most of these substances are included to help support an active lifestyle and can help transport energy to the muscles, provide electrolytes for proper muscle firing, and help you recover faster. It is prudent to check the ingredient list to be aware of what is in your supplement and make sure it is something you want to be ingesting and you are not allergic to.
Eating too much of one particular meal or food type could have adverse side effects and the same goes for protein powder. If you use protein power regularly, it is important to keep both food intake and protein powder consumption at a healthy balance.
Pure protein powder not contain growth hormones. Any brands that include growth hormones or other performance enhancing substances in their mix should be avoided as they can cause dangerous side effects.
There are many brands and products that taste great, and many people say they enjoy their protein shake as a treat. These powders are balanced with ingredients that satisfy your taste buds like chocolate or fruit. However not all brands taste amazing, and usually a product with a higher protein concentration isn’t as tasty, as it contains less ingredients that are adding to flavor. If you feel like you are sacrificing taste for a higher quality protein supplement, you can get creative. Try mixing your supplement with milk, all natural fruit juice, or a fruit and vegetable smoothie.
If you are interested in which brands we recommended for high quality plant protein, check our buyer’s guide. Those with vegan diets, lactose intolerance, or other special diet requirements can find protein powders that are suitable for them. Many plants contain protein along with other benefits such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to support good health. If you don’t enjoy the taste or texture of a certain type, try another plant-based product that might suit you better. Popular sources of plant based protein powders include soy, pea protein, hempseeds, brown rice or a blend of these.
Strength and Metabolism
Building muscle is one thing, maintaining it, and the health of your body, is another. The more muscle mass you gain, the more calories you are going to expend during the day and during your workout. Protein powder allows you to keep up your momentum as you become stronger and your protein and calorie needs increase. You can’t expect to get to your desired physical state and hope to keep it without proper nutrition.
Metabolism is the collection of bodily processes that keeps your body functioning. From the constant pumping of your heart, to the synapses occurring in the brain, protein is a key component to a healthy metabolism.
Weight Loss vs. Muscle Building
The two most common goals that people have when beginning a workout program is to lose fat and build muscle. Losing fat involves consuming fewer calories than you burn. Because muscle tissue requires more calories to maintain than fat tissue, putting on muscle actually helps people in their goal to lose fat, as they burn more calories at rest.
Putting on muscle mass requires consuming enough calories and protein to support muscle growth. If your only goal is to pack on muscle, you will be consuming more calories than someone simply trying to lose weight. A dietitian can determine what the proper amount of calories and protein should be for you.
Remember, both goals can become unhealthy if pursued to an unsafe degree. You should meet with a professional and always track your progress to make sure that you are meeting your goals safely.
Protein is an important nutrient for overall good health. Proteins make up immune cells which help your body fight off disease. They also play a role in structural integrity keeping your bones, muscles, and connective tissues strong. Sickness and injury are a great way to impede any progress you have been making toward getting more fit.
Including protein powder in your diet can provide an extra dose of protein that may help your body’s natural defenses against the many obstacles that nature throws at you.
If you are considering a protein powder to help you meet your fitness goals or help you live a healthier life, there may be a benefit. Protein powder is not a cure-all, but many active people include it as a staple in their training program. Only you can decide if it works for you!
Disclaimer: Dietary supplements are NOT regulated by the FDA for strength, composition or purity. Taking supplements of any kind is always done at your own risk.