The Basics Of Protein Powder
Protein powder. Learning how to utilize this substance can feel like you’re learning a whole other language. And in some part, you are. Learning how to consume protein powder is learning a new factor of life. How do you use it, how much is to be used per day, when’s the best time to use it, what is it to be used with, and so on.
But here’s the thing, you have us to help you figure all of that out. Even if you’re a beginner in the world of nutrition and fitness, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here is the beginner’s guide to protein powder.
Benefits of Protein Powder
First, why should you use protein powder? Well, protein powder is a popular nutritional supplement. Protein helps build muscle, repair tissue, and make enzymes and hormones. Protein powder can also help aid weight loss, more on that later, and tone muscles. Because of this, many people looking to trim down or bulk up use protein powder.
There are other benefits to protein powder besides gaining mass or losing weight. For instance, studies have shown that protein powder can reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. With that, protein powder can also treat type 2 diabetes. Protein powder has been found to be effective at moderating blood sugar and increasing a person’s insulin levels and their sensitivity to it. Due to type 2 diabetes being a chronic disease affected by high blood sugar and impaired function to insulin, protein powder is a great resource for better living.
Muscle Mass or Weight Loss?
But again, a lot of people focus on protein powder for its possibilities in terms of fitness. When it comes to weight loss, using the powder is helpful because it can keep you fuller for longer. Eating protein-rich foods or supplements gives this effect to people. That then leads to smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking. But that’s not all! Protein can boost energy expenditure by 80-100 calories per day. In one study, eating 25% of daily calories of protein cut cravings by 60%. A protein supplement can help you both lose weight and hold onto your lean muscle.
Muscle growth, however, is also an option with the powder. A 2018 analysis of 49 studies supported the idea that protein supplementation helps people bulk up after strength training. According to Healthline, protein supplements improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who exercise regularly. Performing resistance training, like lighting weights, is especially helpful in this process.
Types of Protein?
But what types of protein supplements are there? Whey is the most popular and well known, but there are other options out there.
- Whey protein
- Whey is a water-soluble milk protein most used by athletes and fitness-minded folks. Whey contains all of the amino acids that the human body needs from food and it is absorbed quickly.
- Casein protein
- While Whey is typically the “full package” protein supplement, casein is great for being super-fast with muscle recovery. The reason being it’s rich in glutamine. Despite that, this dairy-based protein is digested in the body slowly. So, it’s better for nightly consumption.
- Egg protein
- Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. That’s because eggs have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score or PDCAAS. Though, egg protein powders are typically made with egg whites, which makes them lack that “fullness power” that we mentioned earlier.
- Pea Protein
- This protein is especially good for vegetarians and vegans because it isn’t made with a dairy. It’s made from the yellow split pea, which is a high-fiber legume that boasts all but one of the essential amino acids. In terms of how we digest it, a study found that pea protein is somewhere between the fast whey protein and the slow casesin.
But how do you use and consume protein powder? The simplest route is to just add water and mix it up. But that could be a struggle for your taste buds. In other cases, people turn the powder into a shake. This is great because it can be a quick and easy meal. Just turn up the blender and throw the powder in with a few ingredients. Then, you’ve got yourself a good meal replacement.
Want an idea of what kind of shake you can make with protein powder? Here’s a small recipe you can follow. Or, decide to mix and match some of the ingredients to make it your own!
A Simple Shake:
2 scoops of protein powder
1-2 cups of vegetables (try spinach, as it won’t affect the taste too much)
1-2 cups of fruit (fresh or frozen. It doesn’t matter. Pro-tip, if they’re frozen, they last longer AND you don’t need to add ice.)
2 tablespoons of healthy fat (try a nut butter, but not peanut, or a seed)
Mixer (Lastly, you’ll want to add something to help combine all the ingredients and keep the drink a liquid. Try oat milk, almond milk, regular milk, or just plain water.)
Of course, it’s important to note that not every person’s body will react the same to protein supplements. You will want to see how your body reacts to protein powder individually. From there, you can then increase or decrease the amount or see if a different type of powder would work better.
It’s also good to realize that there are gender differences in how our bodies react to protein powder. Depending on our ages and our sex, we may need to take in more or less protein. Plus, workout supplements are a male-dominated field so a lot of the information out there is shared with the male body in mind. Because of that, any female readers may want to do more research before taking any information as the “be all and end all” of protein powder advice.
How Much Protein Do I Need Every Day?
But how much protein should you be consuming per day? And how much of that should be powder or some other sort of workout supplement? First, the recommended daily intake of protein for people aged 19 years and over is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men.
Examine.com then has a more detailed write up about the different amounts you should be consuming depending on your current body weight and way of life.
- If you’re sedentary, aim for 1.2–1.8 g/kg (0.54–0.82 g/lb). Keep in mind that your body composition will improve more if you add regular activity, especially resistance training, than if you merely hit a protein target.
- If you’re overweight or obese, aim for 1.2–1.5 g/kg (0.54–0.68 g/lb). You do not need to try to figure out your ideal body weight or your lean mass (a.k.a. fat-free mass). Most studies on people with obesity report their findings based on total body weight.
- If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to lose fat, aim for 1.8–2.7 g/kg (0.82–1.23 g/lb), skewing toward the higher end of this range as you become leaner or if you increase your caloric deficit (by eating less or exercising more).
- If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to build muscle, aim for 1.4–2.4 g/kg (0.64–1.09 g/lb).
- If you’re an experienced lifter on a bulk, intakes up to 3.3 g/kg (1.50 g/lb) may help you minimize fat gain.
Lastly, there’s a popular debate around whether you should be consuming protein shakes immediately after working out or not. There’s the idea that there’s a post-workout window in which you can get the best benefits for taking in nutrients like protein. Because of this, many bodybuilders or guys looking to lose weight, think it’s best to bring a protein shake to the gym. In most cases, however, it doesn’t actually matter. While post-workout nutrition is important, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy thinking you’ve wasted a workout without a shake.
Ultimately, when you have a protein shake or supplement is up to your schedule, supplement, and individual body. As we mentioned before, certain powders are best taken at certain times of the day or night. If you want to take a shake after a workout, that’s fine. If you want to do it later, that’s fine too. See how your body responds to your personal practice and then adjust as needed. Then, see how far you can go in your personal journey to health and fitness.