What’s the deal with protein powder?

O.K so you have probably heard that protein is important for weight maintenance and you have seen the likes of Khloe Kardashian promoting protein powders for weight loss and you were wondering what the deal is. Well let me shed some light on the situation.

To understand about protein powder we should first understand about protein.

  • All living tissue is made up of the 22 amino acids = protein.
  • Your body does not produce 9 of these amino acids so it essential to get these missing aminos through your diet. “Complete” proteins refer to foods that contain the 9 missing amino acids.
  • Amino acids repair muscle tissues and structures that are damaged during life and exercise. This is why if you are exercising and causing deliberate muscle damage (like when you are lifting weights) it is important to consume more protein for muscle repair and recovery.
  • A higher protein diet aids weight loss as protein rich foods often trigger satiety aiding weight control. When you are dieting your body will not only be breaking down fat but also muscle. Protein prevents muscle breakdown a thus is very important when you are in a calorie deficit. I would argue even more for women that have very little muscle to start with.

What is protein powder?

Protein powder is a condensed form of powdered protein that can be mixed with water or added to other food as a convenient way of getting protein into the diet. Powdered proteins can be made out of various different foods such as egg, soy, rice and pea protein. The most common of them all is whey.

What is whey Protein?

Whey is a by-product of cheese production. After curdling and straining milk, whey is left over. It used to be thrown away as waste, but it was then discovered that it’s a complete, fast absorbing protein thus making it popular in the bodybuilding world.

Why after workouts?

People tend to have whey protein after a workout as it is fast absorbing causing a spike in amino acids in the blood which in turn stimulates more muscle growth than slower burning proteins.

It’s also worth noting that whey has much less lactose than cheese or yogurt so people that sometimes have lactose issues don’t always have issues with whey protein.

Benefits of protein powder

  • They have a complete amino profile. Protein consists of 20 amino acids.  9 of which are essential because your body can’t produce them. A good protein powder will contain all 9 essential amino acids.
  • It’s a cheap form of protein.
  • If you don’t like eating so much meat then a protein powder can be a good healthy alternative.
  • If you struggle to eat enough then a protein powder is an easy way to ingest calories.

Negatives about protein powders

  • If you are trying to lose weight, drinking calories isn’t the best way of keeping full. You will probably feel fuller after eating the same amount of calories in Chicken or a high protein yogurt.

Which protein powder should I buy?

  • A good protein should have the most amount of protein (20-30g per serving) and the least amount of carbs (1-5 grams is ok) and fat (1-5 grams is ok).
  • Go as natural as possible. As with anything processed food. If the ingredients look like the back of the pot noodle packet then they are probably about as good for you.
  • A protein powder should just be a protein powder. “Diet protein” makes no sense. 1g of protein is 4 calories. No exceptions. That tiny bit of green tea powder mixed is no replacement for a calorie controlled diet.
  • If you don’t like the taste then don’t bother. At the end of the day we don’t eat “protein” we eat food and what’s the point of wasting calories on something you don’t enjoy. I would personally compromise with a little more fat and carbs if it’s delicious.

Which protein powder I use

I am currently using Vega Sport vanilla protein powder. It is a complete protein.

Calories 150- Protein 30g – Fat 3g – Carbs 6g

I have it blended with frozen berries and water and it’s delicious. I never have protein powder with just water. I don’t find it satisfying.

Hopefully this has given you a little food for thought!!

Click here if you want to understand more about protein from one of my favourite fitness authors.

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