Do You Need Protein Powder?
Protein powder has gone mainstream.
It used to be a product used mainly by bodybuilders and athletes. Today, more than 10% of adults have tried protein supplements, and annual sales are projected to reach $8 billion by 2020, according to some trade groups.
With so many brands to choose from and the relatively high cost per serving, shopping for a protein powder can be confusing.
Use this checklist to decide if you need such supplements and learn how to use them effectively.
Deciding Whether You Need A Protein Powder:
Wanting to build bigger and stronger muscles is still the most common reason for using protein powder.
High protein diets have become popular for weight loss because they tend to suppress appetite and help you to shed fat instead of muscle.
It can be an effective strategy if you avoid going to extremes.
Recover from injuries.
For minor injuries, protein may help your body to repair itself faster.
Make it part of your recovery plan, along with adequate rest and following your doctor’s recommendations.
It can be difficult for seniors to get all the nutrients they need on a restricted diet and compensate for the muscle loss that accompanies growing older.
Protein powder can help with both goals.
You’ve Decided You Need A Protein Powder … But, How Do You Use It?
Know your limits.
Most experts believe that 50 to 60 grams of protein a day is the optimum range for most adults.
Keep in mind that excessive protein can strain your kidneys and cause you to become dehydrated.
As a bonus, reducing serving sizes will help you save money too.
Whey and casein are the main ingredients in many brands.
They’re both complete proteins suitable for adults who eat dairy products.
If you’re a vegan or avoid animal products for any reason, you still have a number of convenient options.
Look for brands with ingredients like soy, peas, or hemp.
You may need to experiment until you find a brand you like, especially with soy products that can have an especially strong taste.
Many powders may also seem more palatable when mixed with milk instead of water.
Read the label.
There aren’t many regulations on nutritional supplements, but there are ways to discern the quality of a protein supplement.
Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, this breakdown will show you how much of each amino acid is present per gram of protein.
Ideally you want a protein that has at least 2.5 grams of L-Leucine per serving!
Consume after workouts.
There are different opinions about the most effective way to eat after a workout.
Still, consuming anything high in protein along with some complex carbohydrates is a winning strategy.
Spread it out.
It’s important to space out your protein consumption so your body can digest it safely and successfully.
That usually means 30 grams or less for each meal or snack.
Frequent, small servings of protein may also speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight faster.
However, you should always place a high emphasis on REAL food and getting the majority of your protein from food sources, before supplementing with a protein powder.