Why use protein powder? Half of you reading this know the answer to that question already, and the other half might be here to find out this kind of information. Type that question into a search engine and I guarantee that you will be flooded with enough information to make your head swim and probably still not know the answer. I’m going to try and make some sense of this and present you with a few options that can hopefully suit your needs.
Who Should Use Protein Powder?Protein powder is suitable for both men and women. Both genders need food and that’s basically what protein powder is. First, let’s address why you need protein in your diet.
- Protein maintains and builds muscle. There is a lot of room for discussion about how much protein is needed to maintain or build muscle, but most agree that an active person who works out several times per week should consume about 1 gram of protein a day per pound of body weight. Therefore, if you weigh 180 lbs, then consuming 180 grams of protein is ideal. I personally stick to a percentage-based diet and try to consume protein sources for 30% of my day’s total food. Make sure to get your protein from lean sources that are low in fat for best results.
- Your metabolism works harder to process protein and thus burns more fat and calories. Many sources suggest that 30% of the calories contained in protein are burned in process of digesting it.
- Eating protein stabilizes your blood-sugar levels. There is a connection between high blood-sugar levels and gaining weight. Protein supplies the body with amino acids that help to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings for carbohydrates.
- You feel full longer when you eat protein. The body digests protein slower than other foods and this allows you to feel more full for longer. This helps to avoid hunger cravings that lead to poor choices.
- You need protein in your system to increase your immune system and support red blood cell production. Protein is the building block of all cell walls and antibodies. You need a constant supply of these building blocks to stay strong, fight disease, and insure that the body stays healthy.
Types of ProteinNext, let’s look at some different types of protein.
- beans, peas and other legumes
- grains and vegetables
- nuts and seeds
- milk and milk products
Types of Protein PowderThe main types of protein powder are:
- Whey – Derived from milk, whey is the most commonly-used protein powder and is the best one for use immediately following workouts. Whey breaks down very quickly in your digestive tract which allows its amino acids to be delivered quickly.
- Whey Isolate – The low fat, lactose free version recommended for the lactose intolerant.
- Casein – Also derived from milk, casein breaks down much slower in your system. Therefore it is not recommended immediately following a workout but is great for meal replacements or snacks.
- Egg Protein – Another great source of protein for the lactose intolerant.
- Soy Protein – Derived from soy beans, it is a great source of protein, however some studies suggest that due to the presence of isoflavones (a phytoestrogen), it may result in hormone imbalances.
- Hemp Protein – A newer product on the market that is all natural and a great source of protein. Expect to pay more for hemp and know that its benefits will diminish as it goes stale.
Which Type of Protein Powder is the Best?I know that this is a lot of information to absorb. If you want me to help you choose and you are not lactose intolerant, I suggest going with whey. It’s the most readily available and affordable option. Whey protein powder is the #1 supplement that I use more than any other! Now that we’ve gone through all of that information we have to look at a few more factors to narrow down which whey product to purchase. A few things to consider when finding the right whey for you include:
- Amount of protein – Some varieties of whey contain around 20 grams while others contain around 50. The higher protein content is also accompanied by higher calorie ratios. Unless you are interested in gaining weight, then go with the 20 gram per serving varieties.
- Amount of carbohydrates – This choice is also determined by your weight goals. Unless you are interested in gaining weight, go with the lower-carbohydrate varieties.
- Amount of fat – Same as the others, unless you are interested in gaining weight, go with the lower fat varieties.
- Cost – This is likely to be the deciding factor regardless of which variety you choose to go with. My main rule of thumb when it comes to purchasing protein supplements is this…If it doesn’t provide twice the benefit, then it’s not worth twice the cost! Some varieties are very expensive, and as a practical guy, I just can’t justify spending $60 on a container of protein when the $20 variety is similar in content.
- Flavor – Protein comes in many flavors. Typical ones include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and plain. What’s your favorite?