Protein Supplements – Who Needs Them And What Are Common Protein Powder Sources?

Protein Supplements – Who Needs Them And What Are Common Protein Powder Sources?

If you have ever gone to a gym or known a guy who is a fitness freak, you would have probably heard something like protein supplements, protein shakes or protein powder. Most of us know that we need a certain amount of protein daily in order to keep ourselves healthy and strong.

Many of us can get the required amount of protein from well-balanced diet and need not go for any sort of powder or supplements. However, many of us can’t achieve that required protein from the diet alone, so we might need supplements. 

For instance, vegetarians rely only on plant foods for their protein requirement while the fact is, plant sources hardly contain all the essential amino acids, the main organic compound found in protein. So, for vegetarians who are involved in strenuous exercise, protein supplements might be helpful.

What are protein supplements?

Protein powder supplements are actually concentrated sources of protein derived from plant or animal foods. There are basically three common forms of protein powder:

  1. Protein concentrates – This form is produced by extracting protein from whole foods by applying heat and acid or enzymes. Protein concentrates normally contains 60-80 percent protein with the remaining 20-30 percent accounts for fat and carbs.
  2. Protein isolates – This form undergoes another filtering step, removing additional fat and carbs. Protein isolate typically contains about 90-95 percent of protein.
  3. Protein hydrolysates – They are further produced by heating with acid or enzymes which helps break the link between amino acids. This lets your body or muscles to absorb them more quickly and easily.

Who needs protein supplements?

Protein supplements are an easy and convenient source of complete, high-quality protein. They are actually the cost-effective and quick way to incorporate protein into the diet. So the question arises, who might want to have protein supplements? Here are a few reasons:

  • When you are a growing teenager who needs more protein to fuel his activities or workout
  • If you are a newbie to workout and trying to build muscle mass
  • When you are intensifying your workout from few times a week to 6 days or half marathon
  • When you are recovering from an injury especially if you are an athlete
  • When you are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle you would be eliminating a number of essential protein including eggs, chicken, fish and meat.

Protein Guide – Food Sources And How Much Protein We Need

How Much Protein We Need?

Common protein powder sources

Here are some of the most popular sources of protein supplement:

Whey and Casein

These proteins are derived from milk and called as complete proteins. Whey and casein can be easily absorbed by the body and are comparatively less expensive. Where whey protein quickly absorbs into the body, casein takes a little time for absorption.

These milk extracted proteins are rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that boost muscle building when undergoing endurance training. However, the downside of this protein source lies in the fact that it in unsuitable for people who are intolerant to lactose or suffer from milk allergies.

Soy Protein

This plant-based protein comprises of all the nine essential amino acids while being relatively inexpensive. For vegetarians or those who are unable to digest whey or casein, soy protein is a great option. However, soy protein is not suitable for people with soy allergy.

Other plant-based proteins

There are also plant-based protein powder sources derived from pea and rice. Hemp protein is 100 percent plant-based and also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. But since these proteins do not supply all nine essential amino acids, taking them as a standalone won’t benefit much. Another downside is that plant-based protein supplements such as hemp proteins which are not readily digestible. This is the reason they are usually found in plant-based protein supplement mix.

Is protein bar a good source of protein?

Undoubtedly, protein bars provide a quick way to gain nutrition after a workout, but they are typically filled with carbs, calories, sodium and fat. However, bars vary widely and you need to check the amount of carb they contain. 

You can choose a higher carb bar (more than 20 grams per serving) when you are involved in vigorous aerobic activities such as biking, swimming or running for more than 90 minutes. While on the other hand, for non-aerobic activities such as sprinting or lifting heavy weights, you need less than 20 grams per serving.

Tips on taking protein supplements

Read the ingredients

If you are taking protein powder for increasing muscle strength, whey is the nice option unless you are not lactose intolerance. On the other hand, protein bars can conceal artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols as well as processed fibers. So make sure you are fine with these ingredients before munching one.

Be calorie cautious

Supplements also contains calories and they can lead to excessive weight gain, especially since some protein bars have the capacity to replace your whole meal. In terms of powder, a scoop of whey powder contains 115 calories, soy powder 175 calories, brown rice 175 calories while pea and hemp powder has 130 calories and 135 calories respectively. So keep the calorie numbers in mind.

Have supplement with exercise on the mind

Extra protein intake won’t get you mean and lean physique. You will need at least some push-ups, lunges, squats and burpees for proper implementation of your protein supplements.

Ignore protein intake immediately after the workout

You must have heard about the anabolic window, the period of time after working out when protein synthesis is at its peak. But some latest research shows that we should not run after this conventional wisdom of seeking protein supplements within 30 minutes of workout. 

The focus should be on consuming an adequate amount of protein throughout the day. What our body needs before, during or after the workout are the carbs. Protein is also important after workout recovery but carbs are most important at that point of time.

Remember, protein powder isn’t necessary if you are getting enough of protein from your normal and healthy diet. Unless you are an athlete or have just begun working out, protein powder supplements are not really required. Consult a dietitian if you are really in need of protein supplements.