A lot of people are interested in and concerned about losing weight, and there are many methods and products that advocate themselves as being successful in achieving it. Protein powder is one such product that has been increasingly popular recently. Protein powder has also been hailed as an effective strategy for weight loss despite being frequently associated with muscle growth and athletic performance.
Protein powders come in various forms. The three common ones are whey, soy, and casein protein. “Whey is the most commonly used, because it’s a water-soluble milk protein,” says Peter Horvath, PhD, associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “It’s also a complete protein, so it’s got all those advantages.” (Complete proteins contain all nine of the amino acids necessary for human dietary needs.) People who are vegan may prefer soy protein, although Horvath notes that its taste is sometimes considered to be more unpleasant, and it doesn’t dissolve as well in water. Protein powders also come with widely varying price tags. “For the casual athlete who doesn’t have a specific need at a certain time of their training, the cost is not that important,” says Horvath. “So if you’re going to use them, you can get pretty much the same benefit out of the less expensive, more commercially available proteins.In very specific circumstances, protein powders can be useful. “They’re an easy and convenient source of complete, high-quality protein,” says Carole Conn, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at the University of New Mexico. But remember: Most people, even athletes, can also get everything they offer by eating sources of lean protein like meat, fish, chicken, and dairy products.So when might you want to use them? There are a few reasons why an ordinary athlete might want more protein in his or her diet, says Barbara Lewin, a dietitian and sports nutritionist who has worked with NFL, NBA, and NHL athletes and trained Ironman competitors: “All of those are valid reasons for trying to get more protein into your diet, and protein powders are one way to do that,” says Lewin.But there’s a big caveat, Lewin adds: it doesn’t take that much protein to achieve those goals. Most Americans already get about 15% of their daily calories in protein. To build a pound of muscle, Lewin explains, the body needs between 10 and 14 additional grams of protein per day.“That’s not really that much. Some of these powders have 80 grams of protein per serving. You don’t need that. All your body is going to do is break it down for energy. And too much protein can be hard on your kidneys and your liver.”
What is Protein Powder?
- When you’re growing. A teenager needs more protein to fuel their workouts because their body is still growing and uses more protein in general.
- When you’re starting a program. If working out is new to you and you’re trying to build muscle, you’ll require more protein than you normally would.
- When you’re amping up your workouts. If you normally work out for half an hour a few times a week, but now you’ve decide to train for a half-marathon, your body will need more protein.
- When you’re recovering from an injury. Athletes with sports injuries frequently need more protein to help them heal.
- If you’re going vegan. People who pursue a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle eliminate a number of common protein sources from their diet, including meat, chicken, and fish, and sometimes dairy and eggs as well.