What You Need to Know about Protein Powders
What You Need to Know about Protein Powders

Protein powders are gaining huge popularity—not just among weightlifters, six-packers and gym addicts. They’re a useful nutritional supplement for people who want to lose weight or gain muscle, convalescents, senior citizens, athletes, vegans, and vegetarians. Let’s find out what they’re all about.

What are protein powders?
These special nutritional supplements contain concentrated protein from animal or plant sources and can be consumed in the form of concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysates. They are often available with added vitamins and minerals, in various flavors.

You can buy them at most pharmacies, health stores, supermarkets, and online in powder form or as pre-mixed drinks. Add them to your normal food, mix them into juices, or just make a simple shake out of them.

The common forms of protein powder are soy protein, whey, and casein protein. Whey is the most popular form since it’s water-soluble and contains all the nine essential amino acids that are necessary for the complete human diet. Each protein source has its own characteristics and benefits.

Since protein is essential for the health and growth of all parts of our bodies, we need to make it a part of our daily diet. Proteins give energy, help to repair and rejuvenate cells.

They also contribute to bulking up muscle mass, reduce fat, and help to repair and maintain the muscles. They give you a feeling of fullness and prevent hunger pangs that send you hunting for food in your fridge.

When to take them
You should take them if you’re an athlete or a teenager, planning a drastic work-out program, preparing for an athletic event or competition, opting to become a vegan or vegetarian, recovering from an accident/injury/illness.

How much do you need?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the normal adult needs about 0.8 gm/kg body-weight every day.

  • Recreational athletes need 1.1 to 1.4 gm/kg
  • Endurance sports-persons need 2.0 gm/kg
  • Athletes in competitive sports need 1.2 to 1.4 gm/kg
  • Those building muscles need 1.5 to 2.0 gm/kg

These figures depend on age. Most Americans get their protein requirement from their normal diet.

Is too much harmful?
The FDA does not monitor protein powders. Excess protein can harm the liver and kidneys. At best, some of it will be converted to energy, while the rest is excreted as waste.

Select the best protein powder
With so many options available on shelves, choosing the best protein powder can be challenging. Keep your age, fitness, budget, diet restrictions (if any) in mind before consuming them.

  • Whey Protein: It is a byproduct of cheese-making. It contains lactose, so a word of caution if you’re lactose-intolerant. It’s easy to digest and it is quickly absorbed by the bloodstream, reduces fat mass and increases muscle mass. If you’re recovering from an injury or trying to build muscle mass, this is a great choice. A great choice is MuscleTech’s NitroTech Pure Whey Protein. If you want a lactose/gluten/sugar-free option that’s non-GMO, low-cal and low-carb, Legion Athletics’ Whey+Protein Powder is a perfect choice. Muscle-builders can opt for the Signature 100% Whey Protein.
  • Casein Protein: It is also dairy-based but it is not easy to absorb. It reduces muscle breakdown, helps in weight-loss and increases chest-strength. Ascent Native Fuel Micellar Casein uses all-natural ingredients and has all the essential amino acids. Another great choice is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein Powder.
  • Pea Protein: It is a great choice for vegetarians, vegans, and those who cannot tolerate lactose or egg protein. It helps you to feel full because it releases itself slowly into the body. It reduces blood pressure and increases muscle-growth. Gluten-free pea protein powders include peas without added sugars, artificial colors, or sweeteners.
  • Hemp Protein: It is a plant-based protein with high omega-3 fatty acid content. Being easy to digest, it contains all the essential amino acids that help in growth and repair. Bob’s Red Mill Hemp Protein Powder and Nutiva’s Organic Hemp Protein are some of the good options.
  • Brown Rice Protein: It is ideal for weight-loss, and it is meant for vegetarians and vegans. It is gluten and dairy-free, rich in antioxidants, some great options are Naked Rice Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder and NutriBiotic Rice Protein Powder.
  • Mixed Plant Protein Powders: These powders contain a blend of two or more plant-based proteins. For instance, any combination of rice, pea, hemp, chia seeds, quinoa, artichoke etc., are available in delicious flavors. PlantFusion’s Complete Plant Based Protein Powder is a great option available in vanilla flavor. You can add it to any other flavor like citrus or chocolate, nuts etc., to make your own yummy shake. Orgain’s Plant-Based Organic Vegan Shake is the right option for vegans and vegetarians. These powders are gluten-free, low-cal and low-carb. It is a perfect choice if you’re on a weight-loss program.

The best protein powder will help you to lose weight, build muscle, repair damaged tissues and help to maintain immunity and promote growth. Take protein supplements after consulting your doctor and ensure that you take the right ones for your fitness goals.

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