Table of Contents
- 1 What is protein powder?
- 2 What are the benefits of protein powder?
- 3 Who should take protein powder?
- 4 What are the different types of protein powder to choose from?
- 5 How do I choose a protein powder?
- 6 When should I take protein shakes?
- 7 Are there any side effects of protein shakes?
What is protein powder?
We’re going to get started today by looking at what protein powder is. Protein is one of three macronutrients. Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is required by the body to perform a wide variety of physiological processes. Protein is responsible for everything from muscle growth and repair, to cellular health and function. Without sufficient amounts of protein in our bodies, our bodies simply won’t function as they should. We need protein for all kinds of different reasons, yet for some of us, getting protein from whole food sources alone, isn’t always enough. Those looking to build muscle and bulk up often require higher than normal amounts of protein, plus not everybody is able to consume foods that typically contain high amounts of protein. Vegans and vegetarians for example, sometimes struggle to get enough protein as they can’t eat meat. Vegans, in fact, cannot consume any animal derived foods or drinks at all. This is where a protein powder supplement proves useful. Protein powders are basically high protein powdered supplements designed to be mixed with a liquid, to create a high protein beverage loaded full of protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
What are the benefits of protein powder?
Okay, in reality, if we were to list each and every single benefit associated with a protein powder, we’d be here all day as there are that many. However, what we will be doing, is listing some of the more prominent advantages associated with virtually all types of protein powder currently on the market. Key benefits associated with protein powders include:
First and foremost, when people think of protein supplements, they think of muscle growth. Protein is vital for muscle growth and repair. Without sufficient amounts of protein in our bodies, our muscles simply would not grow or be repaired after working out. Protein helps to promote protein synthesis, which is a process whereby the body produces new muscle proteins to replace damaged and weakened muscle protein fibres. Put simply, without enough protein, our bodies are unable to build new muscle.
When talking about the benefits of protein powders, you cannot underestimate the convenience factor. One of the main USPs of protein powders is the fact that they’re so convenient. A protein shake is easy to prepare and easy to consume. One shake contains upwards of 25g of protein, along with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Drinking a shake is much easier and quicker than eating a meal. So, if you need a quick protein fix, protein powders are ideal.
Years ago, you were limited when it came to choosing protein powders. Nowadays, there’s heaps to choose from. There’s whey protein, casein, soy, brown rice protein, egg protein, collagen protein, hemp protein, vegan protein blends, and much more besides. Having so many to choose from means that there’s plenty of variety, so you’re less likely to be hindered by dietary restrictions, allergies, and personal preferences.
Protein supplements aren’t just for people trying to build muscle. They’re also great for all around health and wellness. The reason for why is that protein helps to strengthen the immunity as protein is vital for cellular health and function. A vast percentage of your immune system is made up of white blood cells, so the stronger and healthier they are, the stronger and healthier your immune system will be. This, combined with the fact that protein powders are often fortified with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients, means that these shakes are ideal for promoting general health and wellness.
Who should take protein powder?
One of the biggest misconceptions associated with protein powders, is that they’re only really used by bodybuilders and people looking to build muscle and/or strength. Whereas protein supplements are indeed great for bodybuilders and strength athletes, the truth is that they’re suitable for a whole variety of other people as well. Bodybuilders can benefit from them, as will athletes, vegans, people lacking protein, elderly people looking to strengthen their bones and immune systems, those underweight looking to gain weight safely, and people that are simply trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to use protein supplements, as they can be used by virtually anybody and everybody, for a whole variety of different reasons. So, in short, protein powders are ideal for virtually everybody.
What are the different types of protein powder to choose from?
These days, there are a whole variety of different protein powders to choose from, and whereas we don’t have the time to list them all, we can list some of the most popular varieties available. These include, but are not limited to:
Pea protein is a plant-based protein source that is proving hugely popular, especially in the vegan community. Our organic pea protein is derived from organic Canadian yellow peas and is rich in amino acids, fiber, and other nutrients. As an added bonus, it is also hypo allergenic.
Hemp protein is a very popular protein powder in the vegan community largely because it is rich in protein, healthy fats, fibre and is a complete protein source. Although many vegans use hemp protein supplements, they are very suitable for anyone looking for a well-balanced healthy protein powder.
Brown rice protein
Brown rice protein is made from, yep, you guessed it, brown rice. The brown rice is filtered and processed to remove the majority of starches from it, leaving you with the protein. It is therefore a low-carb protein that is also plant-based and is packed full of nutrients. Brown rice protein also provides an impressive amino acid profile.
Vegan protein blends
A vegan protein blend is a supplement that is made up of a variety of different plant-based protein blends. Vegan protein blends are usually made up of a combination of hemp protein, brown rice protein, and pea protein, though some also contain lentil protein. By combining several proteins into one, you get different amino acids, different rates of absorption, and different nutrients, all from the one product.
Whey protein is the most popular protein powder on the market today, and this has been the case for decades. Whey protein is a by-product left behind when milk is turned into cheese. Whey protein concentrate is the most popular, and if you find a good quality one, it should be around 80% protein. Whey isolate undergoes additional filtration and comes in at around 90% pure protein. Whey is a fast absorbing protein that is ideal for post-workout consumption.
Grass-fed whey protein
Grass-fed whey protein is derived from the milk of cows that have been allowed to graze on grass. The grass is free from GMOs, and as a result, the milk the cows produce is much tastier, much purer, and much healthier. The end result is a higher quality whey protein supplement.
Water lentil protein
Water lentil protein is quite possibly the healthiest protein powder in the world. This little-known powder is a relatively new protein supplement that is made from water lentils (whole Lemnaceae), commonly known as duckweed. Water lentils are surprisingly rich in protein, as well as amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, soluble and insoluble fibre, and omega 3. This protein powder borderlines the highest definition of a superfood.
How do I choose a protein powder?
In this next section, we’re going to be taking a look at how to choose a protein powder. Because protein supplements are so popular, everybody wants a piece of the action and consequently there’s a whole variety of different protein supplements currently available for purchase. Some are okay, some are good, and some suck. We want you to find the best quality protein out there, so be sure to check out these handy tips.
Watch out for filler ingredients
Some protein supplement companies have been known to bulk out their proteins with cheap filler ingredients to make the protein stretch further. Some for example, add amino acids, or rice flour, to stretch the protein further. Avoid proteins labelled as ‘proprietary blends’ as these may contain cheap filler ingredients and will be low in protein.
Avoid unhealthy gut-damaging ingredients
You're using protein powder to be healthier. Why in the world would you want unhealthy ingredients that damage your gut lining and actually cause health problems?
Stay away from protein powders that contain any types of thickening and suspension agents such as gums e.g. Xanthan gum. Over time, Xanthan gum and other thickening and suspension agents strip the mucosal lining of the inside of the digestive tract. This then leads to a whole slew of health issues including gas, bloating and irritation and inflammation of the bowels and gut. You may not strip the mucosal lining in your digestive tract the first time you use products with thickening agents in it, but over time, they are sure to cause major health issues, whether your symptoms are severe or not.
Also avoid artificial sweeteners e.g. Sucralose, artificial flavours or "natural and artificial" flavours that are potent smelling. These potent smelling supposed "natural" and "natural and artificial flavours" are laced in chemicals called Aromatics. Large companies get away with this because the amount of chemicals is so small per servings, Health Canada doesn't require to declare them on the label.
Simple rule to follow: If it coagulates, it irritates. Stear very clear of products containing Xanthan gum, Guar gum, Carrageenan, etc. and super strong smelling protein powders.
A good way of getting an idea as to whether or not a product or a company is worth your money is to take the time to read reviews. Read reviews left by previous customers and see what they have to say about the supplement and/or the company. If you’ve noticed a fair amount of negative reviews, this should set alarm bells ringing.
Have realistic expectations
If used alongside an effective exercise regime, and a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet, supplements will provide a number of benefits. As great as protein supplements are, they don’t work miracles. Don’t expect to pack on 20-pounds of muscle in a couple of weeks, and to add 100-pounds to your bench press by simply incorporating whey protein into your diet. Protein shakes increase muscle growth and recovery, but they don’t work miracles. Before buying a protein powder, be sure to have realistic expectations.
When should I take protein shakes?
Now we’re going to try to answer the question of when you should take protein shakes. Now, this is tricky, and the reason for why is because of the fact that everybody is different and has different goals and reasons for using the products in the first place. Some people for example, are looking to build muscle, and others might simply want to hit their daily macro requirements for protein. Here are a few scenarios of when you might wish to take protein supplements.
In the morning
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Many people tend to rush in the morning, skip breakfast and rely on coffee until lunch. Having a quick protein shake in the morning conveniently gives your body the protein and healthy calories it needs to get you through your early hours.
One of the most important times to take a protein shake is right after you’ve finished exercising. When you exercise, your muscle cells are crying out for proteins and nutrients needed to promote muscle growth and repair. The sooner you can take a protein shake after working out, the better.
When we go without food for a prolonged amount of time, our bodies enter a catabolic state. Starved of energy, your body looks for an easy source of fuel, and it taps into your muscle tissue. When you are catabolic, your body fuels itself via muscle tissue. As you go for a prolonged amount of time without food when you sleep, catabolism can set in. A slow-release protein such as casein, consumed right before bed, will give you a steady supply of protein to keep you in an anabolic state.
When food isn’t available
Supplements are not designed to replace food, they are designed to supplement a healthy diet. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of being able to eat a healthy meal, and in these cases, a protein shake will prove very useful.
Are there any side effects of protein shakes?
Finally, we’re going to finish up by looking at whether or not there are any side effects of protein shakes. If used correctly, as instructed, there are no real side effects to be wary of at all. Protein shakes are all-natural and are completely safe. Just be sure to use them as instructed, and never exceed the recommended daily dose.