Protein powder is one of the most popular supplements used in the world of fitness – for many valid reasons. However, a steadily inclining popularity doesn’t necessarily equate great understanding about the range of products and how to use them. Many people are not aware of the ins and outs of the widespread fitness supplement. Common questions often arise, such as:
- How much should I be using and when?
- Which effect will it have on me?
- Can it potentially be dangerous for me?
In this post I’ll try to address these common questions and also to inform you a bit about the various types of protein powder that exist.
What is protein powder?
So, simply said, protein powder consists mostly of.. Protein. Surprise! Depending on the type of protein powder, this protein can come from soy, peas, rice, milk etc. The most common types are whey, soy and casein.
I’ll be soon writing another post on the various types of protein powder, so stay tuned!
My favorite protein powder: the organiz, grassfed New Zealand Whey Protein.
Protein is one out of three nutrients – the other two being carbohydrates and fat. As you may have encountered in a biology class, protein is extremely important for us homo sapiens, since it is part of a range of processes in the human body. Enough protein is essential for your body to recover post-workout, and particularly if you want to become more muscly. That being said, however, protein is not enough to give you the popeye-look; it needs to be combined with physical activity, as well as a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Protein intake should be of high priority if you are aiming to lose fat and gain muscle (also if you’re a girl!), as otherwise you will not get as well rewarded for all your hard work during your workout/fitness/runs/whatever. In other words, if you put a lot of effort into your training but forget about the protein, you might as well have staid at home on the couch. Well, almost anyway.
Important to mention for you girls out there – don’t be afraid of protein! It’s also EXTREMELY important if you’re trying to lose weight, because protein protects your muscles and increases your metabolism. Here's a post on why girls should be working on building up their muscles in order to lose fat.
Personally I believe in natural products with as little modification as possible (if any). You can choose any type of protein you like, but I prefer the ones from Only Protein because it's organic, grassfed dairy, non-GMO and doesn't contain any preservatives, additives etc. As always, I prefer my products as clean as possible.
If you prefer a vegan option, I'd go for the Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein. Garden of Life is gluten/grains/dairy/soy-free and also a USDA Organic and non-GMO verified project.
Protein powder combined with other products
After a tough workout session, it can be ideal to drink the so-called protein shakes. The purpose of these is to give your body exactly what it needs after it’s been tortured by your crossfit trainer or running coach: a combination of protein and carbohydrates to assist your muscles in recovering.
An important note here is that protein powder is a supplement and should be treated as such. Do not try to substitute protein powder for your daily diet. Your body also needs other goodies (read: healthy, clean foods)! Only Protein also has various other supplement blends - but I prefer to stick to a healthy diet and then add my protein powder when my body needs a refuel.
Why should I take protein powder instead of just eating a protein-rich diet?
Eating a protein-rich diet can be beneficial in general; the fact of the matter is just often that amongst work, friends, relationships etc., most of us just don’t always have three hours to cook deliciously protein-rich healthy meals every day.
Another important factor that contributes to many people choosing to enjoy a protein shake after hitting the gym is that solid food takes a lot more time for your body to digest, break down the protein and send it to your muscles… Consuming a protein shake is like e-mail to snailmail (well, almost anyway); it takes a fraction of the time to reach your muscles.
But… why exactly do you need it so fast?
After a muscle workout, your muscles have been contracted intensely and have been subject to small tears in the muscle tissue, so-called micro-tears that need healing. As protein is essential in recovering muscles, protein shakes can be a great way to start this healing asap.
If you prefer a more natural diet but still want to make sure you get enough protein, I've heard of a new company, MuscleEgg, providing flavored egg whites that you can drink directly or use in recipes for instance for protein muffins. Click here for their organic option.
Protein powders and dosage
Usually when you treat yourself to some delish protein powder you’ll be lucky to also get a measuring spoon in the package.
An example of a typical measuring spoon could be one that can contain 30-35 gram protein powder. Depending on your choice of powder, this will be equivalent to around 25-28 gram protein, and this should be enough for most people following a workout – approximately.
However, you can calculate it pretty simply yourself. The general rule of thumb i approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. Make sure to get enough protein in your normal diet as well, so that your daily protein intake is split out between meals and workout.
For me personally, I was very sceptical about protein powder the first few years of doing fitness, especially since I prefer to eat organic, natural products. After I found some of the places where I can buy grassfed protein powder such as Only Protein, I started to drink my protein shakes after each workout - and I really do believe that the extra protein has improved my muscle percentage.
What about you? How do you feel about protein powder?