Protein is essential to the functioning of your body. It provides the building blocks of muscles, bones and blood, helps support the immune system and regulates hormones. It's used by the body to build and repair muscle. It also helps you feel fuller for longer, which can help regulate appetite. It's important that you get enough of it each day, and protein powder can help ensure you meet your daily requirement.
There are a lot of different powders on the market. Although all protein can be used by the body, some react differently, and others aren't appropriate for people on certain diets. Understanding protein, protein sources and how much protein you need can help you decide which powder is right for you.
Different sources have different figures about the general person's protein requirements. Canada doesn’t put a figure on the amount of protein required, however, the USDA recommends 50 grams. Recent research suggests that number is low, and the figure is different for everyone depending on their weight, activity level and general health. Most sources suggest somewhere between 0.8g and 1.2g per kilogram of body weight for the average person.
However, there are people who need more than this. People who exercise regularly may need extra protein to support muscle building and recovery. This includes those who lift weights regularly as well as endurance athletes such as long-distance runners. Some elite athletes can consume up to 2.4g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
People who want to lose weight can also benefit from extra protein, as it can help them control their appetite. Some people use protein shakes as a low-calorie meal replacement as part of their weight loss journey.
Despite warnings in the past, the latest research shows no correlation between a high protein intake and any health issues. There are some medical conditions that are impacted by high levels of protein, so remember to check with your physician before changing your diet.
Protein powder lets you easily add extra protein to the diet. You should get most of your protein from whole sources like meat, legumes, milk and eggs, but powders are a good choice for people who need extra protein or who can't get all the protein they need from food. Many protein powders designed for athletes also contain additional ingredients like creatine and enzymes that help enhance performance, especially pre-workout drinks.
When choosing a protein powder, start by looking at the ingredients. Some have high levels of added sugars and fats, so check the ingredient list to make sure you’re choosing a healthy option. Next, figure out where the protein comes from. Whey protein is the most popular form of protein in powders. It’s a by-product of milk production and is affordable and easily digested by most people. Casein is another milk protein that's regularly used in protein powders. It tends to be released more slowly into the body when compared to whey. Other animal-based protein powders include egg and collagen protein.
For vegans or lactose-intolerant people there are plant-based protein powders available. Soy protein is the most common, but pea, brown rice and collagen protein is also used. Some containers just refer to plant protein on their packaging, so if you're vegan or allergic to anything, make sure you check the ingredient list for more details.
For most people, the protein powder they choose comes down to personal preference and taste. There are many flavours available, including chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, so choose your favourite and see how it works for you. Elite should make look for a sign that their chosen powder is tested by an independent lab and meets the anti-drug policies of their sport.
Research has shown that when you eat your protein, it doesn't impact muscle building or recovery. However, many athletes choose to drink protein as a shake just before or after a workout because they want the boost in energy without ingesting a heavy meal. Most protein powder instructions call for adding a scoop to water and blending or using a shaker to mix the drink. For people looking for a tastier option, powders can be added to smoothies and juices.
Protein shakes come pre-mixed for an easy post-workout drink and pre-packaged protein snacks are also an easy way to get a protein boost.. Protein powder can also be mixed into dishes such as porridge for a high-protein breakfast or yogurt for a sweet protein treat.