Traditionally protein powder is associated with athletes and bodybuilders as they use it to help build muscle. And while this is true, protein powder can do so much more for your body!
What does protein powder do for those of us who aren't bodybuilders?
In this article, we'll talk about all the benefits of protein powder and how it can help improve your overall health. We'll also take a look at what types of protein powders are available and how to choose the right one for you. So keep reading to learn everything you need to know!
Why do our bodies need protein?
Did you know that you can find protein in every cell of the human body? Proteins are long chains of amino acids that help the body build and repair cells. It is an essential nutrient for building and maintaining muscles, bones, skin, hair, and nails.
Protein also produces enzymes and hormones, which are important for normal growth and development, especially in children and adolescents, and helps our metabolisms work efficiently.
These amino acid powerhouses also strengthen your immune system, increase energy levels and help support proper digestion.
The best way to get enough protein is to eat protein-rich foods and maintain a healthy diet. Meat, poultry, and fish are excellent sources of protein. But vegetarians and vegans need not worry; Many other foods are high in protein, including beans, peas, nuts, and lentils.
The biggest difference between animal and plant-based proteins is their amino acid composition. Animal protein contains more essential amino acids, making it "easier" to get a complete amino acid profile. This means that your body can use it more efficiently. However, this doesn't mean you should avoid plant-based proteins; you can still get the amino acids you need by eating several different plant-based proteins throughout the day.
Foods of animal origin rich in protein:
- red meat such as beef, bison, or venison
- fish, especially salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines
Plant-based foods rich in protein:
- brazil nuts
- chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- flax seeds
How to calculate your protein needs
The amount of protein we need in our diet depends on a number of factors, including our age, activity level, and muscle mass. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram, or 0.36 grams per pound of body weight.
But there are other factors to consider when calculating your recommended protein intake, including your age, whether or not you're trying to lose weight or build muscle mass, and your daily activity level. Also, those women who are pregnant or nursing will need to increase their protein intake to support the growing baby.
If you would like more information on how to calculate your specific protein needs, there are many online calculators that can help you. However, as with all things on the internet, you should make sure you do the proper research and always check with your doctor before starting or changing any dietary routine.
What is protein powder?
Now that we know how to calculate how much protein we need in our diets, the really hard part begins. How do we manage to GET enough protein in our diets every day? Some days, it's pretty hard to just work out, let alone find the time to come home and make a quinoa salad or grill a piece of salmon for a full day's work.
That's where protein powder comes in.
Protein powder is a dietary supplement consisting of protein isolated from food sources. As the term "food supplement" indicates, it is intended to supplement natural protein sources, not replace them entirely.
You should strive to get most of your protein from a healthy diet, but a good protein powder can help bridge the gap when you're trying to build muscle mass, lose weight, or increase your protein intake for a number of other reasons.
As a nutritional supplement, protein powder may or may not be flavored and is usually mixed with water or milk or added to a shake or other beverage.
Understanding Terminology: Whey Protein, Plant-Based Proteins, and Essential Amino Acids
Protein powder comes in many different forms. The most common types of protein powder are whey protein and plant-based protein. Whey protein is made from milk and the by-product of cheese making, while plant-based protein is made from…you guessed it, plants.
Whey protein powder is a popular choice among athletes, and you'll see many on the market because it's a complete protein that includes all nine essential amino acids. Some plant-based protein supplements do not contain all of the essential amino acids and sometimes need to be combined.
However, whey protein is not as nutrient-dense as plant-based protein, which provides a broader range of nutrients that are easier for the body to digest and absorb. Also, because whey protein is derived from milk, people who are lactose intolerant or have other allergies to dairy products may have difficulty digesting a whey protein supplement.
Here are some of the different types of plant-based protein powders on the market:
- Hemp Protein Powder: Hemp protein powder is a complete protein that is also high in fiber. It also contains omega-6 and omega-3 fats that promote heart health. It's suitable for vegans and vegetarians, but can have a gritty texture, with some describing its flavor as "earthy," so it's best when mixed into smoothies or paired with other flavorful foods or drinks.
- Pea Protein Powder – This vegan protein powder is another quality option to support muscle growth, weight loss, and heart health. Of all the plant-based proteins, pea protein is one of the easiest options to digest. It's also great for those who suffer from allergies or are on special diets because it's vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and free of major food allergens like nuts, eggs, and shellfish.
- Soy Protein Powder: Another vegan option, soy protein is a complete protein that contains very little carbohydrate or fat. This option is not as easy to digest as other plant-based proteins and can cause gastrointestinal upset for those with sensitive stomachs.
Is protein powder really useful?
You might be wondering if protein powder is really useful, or if it's just another marketing gimmick to sell a new product. Using protein powder as a dietary supplement has many health benefits. But let's be clear, adding a few protein shakes to your diet doesn't mean you can skip the rest of the food pyramid and gorge yourself on popcorn and diet soda all day. You should strive for a natural, complete protein blend and supplement with a high-quality protein powder to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Benefits of adding protein powder to your diet
- Muscle Recovery – A protein shake after a workout can help you gain muscle mass and aid in recovery.
- Maintain a healthy weight: If you are looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, a protein shake may be a good option as a once-daily meal replacement.
- Fight fatigue : If you're always tired, watch what you're eating throughout the day. If you're not getting enough protein in your diet from plant and animal sources, consider adding protein powders to ensure you're getting enough nutrients to keep you going throughout the day.
- Promotes Gut Health – The right protein powder can help heal your gut lining. Just make sure you choose protein powders that are easily digestible.
- Boosts metabolism: Combining a high-protein diet with exercise and strength training can boost metabolism because you'll focus on muscle growth, and muscle burns more calories. If you're looking to lose weight, increasing your metabolism is a good thing!
When to increase your protein intake
There are some key times when you should consider adding more protein to your diet. If you're an athlete or fitness buff focused on muscle growth, you'll need more protein than you would if you weren't strength training regularly. In this case, try to consume protein shakes or shakes within 60 minutes of finishing a workout. It's great for muscle recovery, and your body will thank you later!
Those who use protein powder for weight control should try to eat protein-rich foods at every meal.
How to use protein powder
Depending on your health goals, you can use protein supplements as a meal replacement or post-workout recovery drink.
When is the best time to drink a protein shake?
When you exercise, you cause microtrauma (small tears and trauma) to the muscles. While this sounds scary, it's actually not a bad thing and is necessary for muscle growth, as protein helps repair, grow, and recover muscle. The best time to consume protein powder is during the post-exercise anabolic window (15 to 60 minutes after training ends) when muscle protein synthesis is at its peak.
The best ways to take protein powder
There are so many ways to consume protein powder: added to your coffee, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or simply made into a protein shake by mixing your powder with water in a shaker bottle.
But our favorite way to consume protein powder is in shakes, where there are endless options to get creative and give yourself a nutritional boost by adding Ganbatte Boost !
Written by Ana Saiz
Co-founder of Ganbatte Superfoods