What is your specific sport? Rugby, football, tennis, swimming, hiking, cycling? Your nutritional intake needs to provide for the energy requirements of your specific sport. Of course, your nutrition goals will also vary, depending on whether you’re training for competition or for your own personal goals.
If you’re involved with athletic competitions and have travel commitments, it is important to implement a suitable nutrition strategy – things like protein powders and fortified foods – nutrition which isn’t going to cause you gastrointestinal discomfort.
Protein – an Essential Nutrient
Our protein needs are between 1.2 – 2g per kg body weight per day. If you are a fitness enthusiast, you will have higher protein requirements than the couch potato. Protein is an essential nutrient. It is found in nuts, seeds, fresh fish, legumes, free range poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Protein is required for cellular repair and to synthesize new proteins to perform basic bodily functions. Protein deficiency can result in a depressed immune system and the inability to perform well in your sport. The rationale behind a good training diet is that it needs to provide all your basic nutritional requirements. It should achieve and maintain an appropriate body weight and certainly, promote recovery between your training sessions.
For any athletes with micro-nutrient deficiencies, supplementation may improve performance. Supplements such as a protein powder may be needed when an athlete’s diet doesn’t supply the recommended nutrients.
What is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a dietary supplement containing a high percentage of protein. There are other ingredients in the powder such as vitamins, minerals, greens, fiber, grains, fats as well as dehydrated vegetable or plant products.
The flavors of these protein powders don’t impact the nutritional value of the protein. All of the artificial flavors in protein powders have been approved for use in food products by the regulatory agencies.
There are benefits from using a protein powder
- being super convenient
- quicker and better absorption as well as better digestion
- when you mix a protein powder with water or milk, it becomes similar to a smoothie or milkshake.
Protein powders come directly from whole food sources, but they’ve undergone quite a few processing methods. Different protein sources require different processing techniques.
- Concentration, for instance, is a high heat drying process which reduces whole foods to a concentrated protein powder form.
- Micro-filtration – removes contaminants from the concentrated protein component by passage through a membrane, similar to the reverse osmosis processes used in water purification.
There are Plenty of Protein Powders – How to Choose the Right One?
High intake of protein is required if you want to gain muscle mass, be fit and healthy, or simply to lose weight. To determine which protein powder is the best, focus on the supplement facts, the ingredients are ultimately the ones that are going to determine whether a supplement is effective or not.
- look out for quality – the quality of a protein product is determined by its amino acids, its taste, how it blends, its digestibility, and its filler percentage – good protein powders possess all these features.
- always look at the label – if the ingredient list has a limitless list of names which can’t be pronounced, rather give it a miss. Go for a powder with a maximum of 10 natural ingredients.
- be careful of products which say ‘added ingredients for more muscle’. Manufacturers are known to add a tiny trace amount of an extra ingredient that can assist with promoting more muscle. The amounts they include are certainly not enough to make much of a difference. Supplement manufacturers are known for hyping up certain products with unrealistic claims.
We also recommend that you look for real food ingredients and to steer clear of:
- artificial colors and flavors
- artificial sweeteners
Always look for:
- non-GMO products
Some Ingredients to Avoid in Your Protein Powders
- Gluten – this is a protein found in different grains. It’s known for raising inflammation levels and causing problems with mood swings, headaches, and hormonal imbalances
- Artificial sweeteners – sweeteners like sucralose, aspartamine, NutraSweet or saccharin can cause headaches, weight gain, migraines and gastric disturbances
- Dextrin/Glucose – carbohydrates which can also cause gastrointestinal distress.
- Vegetable oils and fats – meant to increase richness. The fats are most times derived from hydrogenated sources that contain harmful trans fats which raise levels of bad cholesterol
- Thickeners and gums – there are protein powders which contain gums like xanthan carrageenan and guar as well as other GMO additives which can cause bloating and gas.
Who Uses a Protein Powder?
- vegetarians – protein powders contain all of the essential muscle-building components needed for vegetarians to get ripped. Supplements are always needed when a person’s diet doesn’t give them the recommended nutrients for optimal health.
- the elderly – protein powders can be helpful for the elderly who aren’t getting enough protein from whole food. As we age, our bodies lose muscle. To maintain muscle mass you need to still exercise and get enough quality protein in your diet through a protein supplement. This is important for seniors’ health since they eat less protein than the USDA recommends.
- athletes – most athletes get the recommended amount of protein through food, but protein powders are great for those athletes who need immediate protein after a workout and who don’t have time for a meal.
- those looking to maintain a healthy body weight – successful weight loss is all about maintaining good nutrition. As you cut back on calories, you want to preserve muscle. Protein powders help you get the benefits of protein without adding in significant calories. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people placed on a low calorie, high protein diet making use of a whey protein powder could maintain lean muscle and lose body fat. Combine muscle preserving whey protein with casein for long-term weight loss.
As we age our appetites diminish and studies show that seniors living in nursing home facilities suffer from protein-calorie malnutrition. A loss of muscle can actually cause a loss of appetite due to changes in body chemistry. To maintain healthy muscle mass, supplement with protein that doesn’t come loaded with sugar and preservatives. Whey may be a convenient way to help elderly people meet their protein needs, but bear in mind that whey supplements aren’t tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency claims that some protein supplements could contain ingredients not listed on the supplement facts label.
Some Types of Proteins used in Protein Powders
- Animal source proteins – whey, egg white protein, casein
- Vegetable source proteins – soy, pea, rice, pea, hemp
- Whey Protein – the most commonly used type of protein in protein powders. Whey, derived from cow’s milk, is an excellent protein source. It’s called a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
- Casein Protein – rich in glutamine, an amino acid that aids recovery. It’s absorbed more slowly than whey. You’ll need to combine it with whey if you want to benefit from its muscle-building effects.
- Egg White Protein – lactose and dairy-free protein powder – offers a high level of the essential amino-acid lysine. It digests slower than whey but faster than casein.
- Pea Protein – very digestible, this plant protein is good for those with sensitive stomachs who want to avoid dairy or soy. It is not a complete protein – low in 2 amino acids.
5 of Our Favorite Protein Powders
A company which sells products making use of the purest ingredients. Their ‘naked’ products are free from additives and fillers. They use pasture fed goats’ milk from small Wisconsin dairies. You don’t get anything more simple than easily digestible Naked Nutrition’s Naked Goat Whey Protein Powder
- GMO Free
- 100% pasture-fed goat whey protein
- no additives, no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors, hormone free, gluten free
- 23 grams of protein
- no acid- and bleach processing used for purification – high-quality, chemical-free protein.
- only one ingredient – 100% Pasture Fed Goat Whey Protein
- goat’s milk is lower in lactose – people who are lactose intolerant can’t handle cow’s milk but they’re fine with goat’s milk
- Naked Goat is an acquired taste. Some people don’t like the taste and don’t appreciate having to disguise the taste with fruit
Donna Gates’ Body Ecology Diet is sugar-free, gluten-free, and probiotic rich. Body Ecology isn’t about hocus-pocus nonsense but rather products based on research and proof.
- complete, vegan protein to lose weight and build muscle
- 15g of protein with each serving
- one of the ingredients is organic broccoli and organic kale, both cruciferous vegetables and high in a compound known as sulforaphane, which protects against oxidative stress and inflammation.
- nice tasting
- probiotic for a healthy gut
- fermentation removes anti-nutrients
- hard to find any negative feedback
The wish of Aloha is to make health simple and accessible. They know that there are many false claims in the wellness industry, and the company wants to address these challenges. They are convinced that the best nutrients come from whole foods. If we can’t get these whole foods we need assistance. They offer a plant based protein powder. Aloha’ powder for vegans is a 150 calorie meal in each pack. Take your pick from vanilla or chocolate protein powders.
- 100% organic – free of chemicals and artificial sweeteners
- real food is used – even the flavoring is healthy
- ingredients such as organic pumpkin seed, organic pea protein, and hemp seed protein
- has USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) certification
- includes 18 grams of protein
- with just 150 calories and 18g of protein, you can enjoy this protein packed shake any time
- ideal as a pre- or post-workout protein shake
- even though the flavor is described as natural, many people complain about the bland, unpleasant taste
Garden of Life is fanatical about food – real food – and what goes into their supplements. They make use of organic non-GMO soil to grow their real foods which are turned into power-packed nutritious food supplements. All their products are Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO verified.
- gluten free, dairy free, soy free
- excellent source of protein from RAW organic sprouts
- 17g of protein
- live Probiotics and Enzymes
- plenty of vitamins and minerals
- all the essential amino acids
- no fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives
- easy to digest
- suitable for vegans and vegetarians
- creamy, smooth and pleasant tasting, although quite a few people complained about the chalky texture
- plenty of certifications to indicate their products are well researched and tested
- a few complaints – more centered around the packaging, saying the containers were only half full and that the product wouldn’t see them through the month.
This eco-friendly company wants people to live a healthier life through better nutrition. Their products are manufactured at their own USDA organic certified facility. They avoid products packed with ingredients that lack nutritional quality. They use only the most nutrient dense plant-based ingredients to help their customers achieve their health and fitness goals.
- free of major allergens and easy to digest
- 1 scoop of protein powder equals 21 grams protein and 120 calories
- ingredients such as yellow peas, organic sprouted quinoa, organic sprouted amaranth which contains all the essential amino acids as well as globe artichoke. This is a complete protein source containing all essential amino acids
- plenty of testing and research – unique blend of ingredients
- enhanced with 4500mg of branched chain amino acids and 3,350mg of glutamine
- no dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, fish, nuts, shellfish
- no artificial flavors and preservatives
- great for vegans and vegetarians and those who want to eat a whole diet
- mixes well
- affordable and individual packets also available
- good flavor
- people complained of a bland flavor when mixed with just water
What to mix in your Protein Powder?
Buy a blender so that you can mix your powders into a nice creamy, smooth texture.
When you look at the label of your protein powder, most will tell you to mix the powder in water. We all know that water mixed in isn’t going to make it the most palatable choice. Adding skim milk instead will boost the protein and nutrient value of the shake – and the flavor!
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to mix your protein powder with water so as not to increase the calorie content. Skim milk, for instance, can add another 80 to 100 calories per cup, and if you want to go with full cream milk, you can be looking at about 150 calories per cup.
Protein shakes are mostly consumed after a workout to boost recovery. Milk is effective for post-exercise recovery and enhances muscle protein synthesis.
The right type of protein powder for you isn’t what the next person is using. It is an individual choice that depends on several factors. Are you wanting to curb your hunger, treat your protein drink as a meal replacement, or are you looking to build muscle?
Protein is crucial – we need it to sustain ourselves, and if you’re not getting sufficient protein in your diet, a protein supplement is a wise choice. Whey protein is the most affordable while plant based proteins are organic and easier to digest for those with digestive problems.
If you’re an athlete, post-exercise fatigue and loss of appetite, for instance, are common after a high-intensity workout. Recovery involves the regeneration and repair of tissue damage, and nutrition is most important in the post-exercise recovery phase, more so if you have only a few hours of recovery time before the next event.
An ideal supplement is one that is palatable, empties rapidly from the stomach and is well absorbed.
Protein powders are good for so many reasons – from building muscles to manufacturing hormones to assisting with cardiovascular function to health and wellness, and in the 21st century, protein powder is a leading and favorite supplement for those who don’t want to lose muscle and to also improve their health.
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