Protein supplements and their use
You have probably seen those huge jars of powder at the pharmacy and wondered what they were. Those are protein supplements. Once marketed for bodybuilders and athletes, they are now widely used by everyone, especially those looking to lose weight.
When part of a healthy diet, protein supplements can be extremely helpful in aiding you to reach your weight loss goals. You can also use them as a meal replacement, alongside other ingredients to make delicious shakes. Those of you who would rather eat solid food can turn to protein bars, but they almost always contain added ingredients (and calories!).
Let’s start with what is a protein
Proteins are a fundamental part of your body’s construction. It is the primary “construction material” used to build, maintain, and repair muscle tissue. Your nails, your skin, and all your hair are made of protein. Without it, your body would not function.
Protein is made of 20 amino acids. Of these, 11 can be made by the human body. We call them the non-essential amino acids. You are then left with nine that needs to be introduced to your body, with your diet.
Lots of delicious food, like red meat and chicken, contain a high amount of protein without being loaded with other unhealthy food. You still have to be careful with where you get your meat; industrialized meat often contains steroids and antibiotics left from when the animal was growing. It is better to find a local meat producer and ask them how they grow their animals.
You should be looking for:
- Grass fed animals
- No antibiotics
- No steroids
- 100% vegetable food used to feed the animals
- Animals that are not confined to small living spaces
Animals that can walk and run around, eat natural food, grass, insects, etc., produce healthier meat. It contains less fat and is high in vitamins and essential nutrients.
Who needs protein supplements
I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it: protein supplements can be used by anyone. You do not have to be an athlete or a bodybuilder to benefit from this supplementation. The only prerequisite is that you want to be healthier!
Protein supplements can help you if you are looking to lose weight or following a weight loss diet. Protein forces your body to use more calories for digestion thus creating a thermic effect. It accounts for one of the way adding protein supplements to your diet can help you lose weight.
What are protein supplements made of?
The most popular type of protein supplement. It is a byproduct of cheese production. It is quickly and easily assimilated by the body and is often taken just after a workout to help with muscle repair and recovery. Whey in powder form is the most common form you’ll find. It mixes well with pretty much anything, and you can cook with it.
Casein will keep you full longer than whey as it is digested at a slower pace. Unfortunately, it does not mix as easily as Whey and tends to clog if you don’t use a mixer. Casein is also more expensive than Whey.
Derived from egg whites, also called egg albumin, it is made in powder form and is used in different supplements. If you have a problem with dairy then this could be an option, but be careful; too much of it makes you fart.
Good source of vegetarian protein, it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. This is the only plant protein that is “complete.
Now for some good old protein myths…
Myth #1: People who are vegetarians have a harder time getting sufficient levels of protein in their diets
Not true. Vegetarians can get all the protein they want just like meat-eaters do. Protein sources are abundant and diverse. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians can also get protein from eggs and milk. Soy protein is considered an excellent source of protein for vegetarians because of its full amino-acids profile.
Since it comes from a bean, it has no saturated fats and won’t raise your cholesterol levels.
Myth #2 high-protein diets are baaaad for you
True and not true.
People claim that too much protein is bad for your kidneys and can lead to osteoporosis. Unless you have a kidney problem to start with, there is no case to be made there. As for osteoporosis, it is claimed that since high-protein diets raise the acidity of your body, you then need to balance things out. Your body will be taking minerals from your bones, making them weaker.
If you have a healthy, balanced diet and you exercise, then again there is no concern.
The truth part of high-protein diets being bad for you comes from the sources of protein themselves. If you only eat burgers, bacon, sausage, and steaks, then you are putting yourself at a higher risk for different problems. On the other side, if your high-protein diet has lots of lean meats like fish, beans and protein supplements, you are lowering your risk of future problems.
Myth #3: protein sources are equal
Not so fast. Fish and red meat are both proteins coming from an animal. Which one is better? If you’ve said the fish, then you are right. Not only fish (especially the fatty ones) contains a lot of protein per serving; it also has a bunch of healthy fats. Red meat, on the other hand, is full of saturated fat. Not so great.
But both of them compared to vegetarian sources of protein are much better. It comes down to the bio-availability of the protein source. It represents the rating of just how much our bodies can make use of certain protein sources. You’ll notice on the table below that protein coming from animal sources fare much better for our bodies.
It is always best to have your protein come from a different source. Anything in excess is not good just as the opposite is true!