Protein is a very important nutrient that performs a variety of life essential functions in our bodies. You need to eat protein-rich food every day in order to maintain these functions, such as cell repair and growth. When the cells in our muscles are worn out from strenuous physical activities, protein will come to the rescue. Without it, our muscles would not be able to heal themselves, resulting in weakness and eventually, muscle destruction.
We don’t want that, do we? Which is why healthy individuals are advised to consume 45 to 56 grams of protein on a daily basis. You can easily reach this goal by eating eggs for breakfast, a reasonable amount of meat during lunch and dinner, and some other protein-rich sources (such as cottage cheese and almonds) here and there for snacks.
But, what if you don’t eat animal meat and by-products because you are a vegan? Or, what if you need more than what these food products can give you? Then protein powder is a viable option.
If you see a huge bottle with PROTEIN written across it, don’t assume that it is just intended for men and women who frequent the gym and are interested in building muscle. It is the same protein that you can get from animal meat and by-products, just in powdered form.
Mix the powder with water to make a protein shake, which can be a great snack or meal substitute. These protein powders have three common forms, namely whey, soy, and casein. Whey tends to be more popular than the other two because it is water-soluble and has all nine amino acids. If you are vegan, you’d most likely choose soy, though it doesn’t taste as good and doesn’t dissolve well when mixed with water.
Why would you take protein powders?
A typical whey protein powder (1 ounce/ 28g) has 20g of protein. If you take three ounces, you would’ve fulfilled the daily protein requirement of 45 to 56 grams of protein daily. If you workout in the gym and undergo vigorous weight lifting and training exercises, your muscle cells will be worn out and will need help to recover. This is what protein powders are great for – giving the muscle cells amino acids for recovery. It is not recommended that you seek to fulfill your recommended daily intake using just protein powder. Try starting with one scoop (approximately 20g) per day.
Who should consume protein powders?
Not all gym-goers and athletes need protein powders and the average person doesn’t necessarily need to consume them either. It is simply an exceptional alternative if you are not getting an adequate amount on a daily basis, especially considering your physical activity.
One can find protein in lean sources such as meat, fish, chicken, and dairy products. Normally, protein powders are recommended for:
• A teenager who works out in the gym because he/she is still growing and needs more protein.
• If you're just starting a new workout and building your muscles for the first time.
• If you're doubling your workout time, your muscles will need more protein to recover.
• If you're injured and you're in the recovery stages - especially if you're an athlete recovering from a sports injury.
• If you're vegan. Since you won't be eating meat and animal byproducts, you would need other protein sources.
How much should you take?
The amount of protein powder you should take will vary, depending on your purpose. If you want to become a body builder, you'd need more protein (preferably 0.5-0.75g/pound of your body weight) daily. If you're an endurance athlete, you will want to consume protein powder with some carbs, with 0.6-0.9g/pound of protein intake every day. If you want to lose body fat, you should take in pure protein with lesser carbs and a little fat.
Example: Let’s say you’re an adult that weighs 175 pounds and you want to build your muscles. You would need 157.5 grams of protein. You’d have to either drink eight ounces of your powdered protein (not recommended), or, eat these suggested selections twice: a four-ounce hamburger that has 30g, six ounces of tuna that has 40g, and an ounce of cheddar cheese with seven grams of protein.
Keep in mind that the maximum amount of protein recommended daily for adults is 0.9g/pound of body weight. Also, the most important thing to remember is to drink this protein powder after your workout. Otherwise, you won’t be maximizing your results.