The world is becoming a tad protein obsessed by the day. There are tons of ads and websites online all advocating for their choice supplement powder. "Get max results from our special formula!" This information overload can be mind-boggling, especially to a newbie who has lots of questions like;
- Do I really need a protein shake?
- Can a protein shake help in weight loss?
- Will the shake build my muscles?
- Which protein shake is right for me?
To answer these questions, we need to define what proteins are. They are part of most cellular activities and are crucial in the repair and maintenance of muscles. Proteins are the building blocks of the body, and their presence in sufficient amounts positively impacts the muscles, hormones, immune functions, transportation of nutrients and body enzymes.
What is protein powder?
Protein powders are as the word denotes powders from plant or animal protein sources. Plant based protein powders can be extracted from hemp, rice, potatoes, peas, or soybeans. Their alternatives are sourced from animal by-products such as whey or casein.
Do you need a protein shake?
First of all, protein deficiency is very rare, thanks to the vast beef rearing industry. More people actually take in more protein than their bodies require. You generally need a gram of this nutrient, for each kilogram of your body weight, daily. If for example, your weight is, 64 kilos, then you require 64 grams of your favourite char-grilled steak or chicken breast per day.
If you have been exercising regularly, then supplementing your diet with a protein shake could be good for you. They provide powerful nutrition to athletes after demanding workouts. A scoop of your favourite protein shake could have at least 10 grams to 30 grams of protein. A protein shake is designed for muscle building has more protein levels per scoop than those meant for weight loss.
Can a protein shake really help in weight loss?
Protein is super satiating and fills up more than fats or carbs. Research shows that supplementing your diet with whey protein will increase fat loss. You will definitely have fewer hunger pangs to deal with, take in fewer calories, and binge or snack less.
Will the shake build my muscles?
The stereotype image of large bodies associated with protein shakes can be off-putting to some women. Studies show that protein shake helps in not only the gaining but the retaining of muscle mass, for anyone with a rigorous and regular exercise regimen. This can reduce medical conditions such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis with age. For a woman's body to bulk up, there as to be tons of strength training involved to build visible muscles.
Which protein shake is right for me?
Whey protein is often regarded as a superior source of protein powder because it has a wide range of essential amino acids. Whey is a byproduct of the watery part of milk. During cheese production, the milk's fat coagulates and separates from the whey, which then goes through a production process to turn it into its powdery form.
Whey protein by itself has an unattractive taste, and it is often flavoured to make it palatable. Whey protein has many advantages including quick and easy absorption by the body, but it is not a good choice for the lactose intolerant or those who may have allergies to it.
Milk has two major types of proteins; whey and casein. Casein makes up 80% of the protein in milk, while whey is 20%. Casein is a rich source of glutamine a protein that increases the speed of muscle recovery. Casein is not as easily absorbed into the body like whey so it should preferably be taken at night.
Soy protein shakes are plant-based and so are perfect for vegetarians. They have all the required amino acids and therefore make a good substitute for whey based shakes.
If you are a vegan or have soy or dairy allergies, then hemp-based protein powders should be perfect for you. They also have all the essential fatty acids.
Pea protein powders are an excellent source of arginine the amino acid that assists in the building of protein in the body. Pea protein is, therefore, a common additive in many plant-based powders.
A word of caution
Many protein powders have not been subjected to compliance testing on a routine basis, so their claims and ingredients may be undetermined and unsafe. In 2016 for example, the TGA had only tested 500 of the 11,000 products on their registry.
University of New South Wales, professor of medicine Dr Nicholas Shackel says that "Most of these supplements are totally unregulated.” If you want to add protein powder shakes to your diet, consult a physician or dietitian to stay on the safe side. Ensure also that you buy from reputable sellers and manufacturers, who have a lot of positive reviews and a clean record online.