Your Ultimate Protein Powder Guide
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is essential to meeting most of your health and fitness goals. Still, many people fall short of fulfilling the recommended daily amount to support their efforts. So, whether you're an athlete, working towards weight management goals, or living a vegan lifestyle, supplements for protein are for you! We’ve created the ultimate protein powder benefits guide to help you understand why protein is vital to your overall health.
Understanding Why Protein is Important
Proteins are made up of amino acids - the building blocks of protein and muscle mass. While there are a total of twenty different amino acids, some of them cannot be made by your body. This group makes up the essential amino acids.
Foods that provide the body with all the essential amino acids are referred to as complete protein sources. Animal-based proteins which typically offer a complete source of protein are fish, meat, poultry, egg, and milk.
Most non-animal-based protein sources are low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Therefore, to ensure proper health and wellness, it is necessary to supplement the protein your body is lacking.
Consuming protein keeps your body fueled, growing, and protected. Your body also relies on protein sources to carry nutrients and oxygen through your blood.
Understanding Amino Acids
Since one of the most effective ways to repair and grow lean muscle is through protein, it's essential to dig a little deeper into the matter. Amino acids are the organic compound building blocks that make up proteins. Think of them as the leftovers when your body breaks down protein naturally. Therefore, amino acids are vital to your body's ability to begin repairing tissues and replacing lost proteins.
There is a total of eighty amino acids. Nine are considered "essential," meaning they are only able to enter your body through consumption. These essential amino acids are beneficial in helping you regain energy post-workout, reduce muscle soreness, and support weight loss efforts.
Out of the nine essential amino acids, three are vital in building new lean muscle. These amino acids are known as BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids.
BCAAs make up the building blocks of muscle proteins. Therefore, BCAAs are crucial to your body's ability to repair muscles and grow lean muscle mass. BCAAs also play a vital role in helping your body and avoid workout fatigue.
The three amino acids that makeup BCAAs include:
Leucine helps stimulate protein synthesis directly. It supports your mental and physical performance, helping you optimize your workout.
Isoleucine is the BCAA responsible for three vital roles. These include increasing endurance, boosting your energy levels, and regulating blood sugar during and after your strenuous workouts.
Valine improves your muscle tissue recovery and helps increase endurance and stamina. Valine is also known for its appetite suppressant characteristics. This makes weight loss and maintenance goals more achievable, as it helps curb those post-workout cravings.
Due to your body’s inability to naturally produce branched-chain amino acids, finding a BCAA supplement is essential to meeting your goals.
High-quality BCAA supplements are quick and effective. Each replacement BCAA enters your bloodstream and goes straight to work repairing your muscles as soon as you need it.
What is Protein Powder?
As an essential building block, protein is necessary for the health of your bones, skin, and muscles. Protein powders are concentrated sources of protein that come from animal or plant food sources. They are excellent supplements for protein, offered in a variety of forms. Protein powder benefits range from convenience to treating health concerns.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
The average meal contains roughly 10-20 grams of protein. Unfortunately, this leaves many people falling short of the recommended daily intake. Understanding why protein is important to your health and wellness helps you appreciate protein powder benefits and the importance of adding supplements for protein into your daily diet.
It is recommended that the average active individual consumes 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, assuming you weigh in at 75 kg, you should adjust your protein intake to roughly 90-150 grams per day.
Weightlifters, athletes, and those with chronic illnesses typically require a higher daily intake. In fact, athletes in training find twice the recommended amount to be most beneficial, making supplements for protein ideal.
Who Should Use Supplements for Protein?
There are many reasons why you should consider adding supplements for protein to your daily routine. You don’t have to be an athlete to reap the protein powder benefits and rewards. Anyone can benefit from supplementing protein.
Protein Powder Benefits You If:
- you’re starting a diet or workout program
- working out is new to your routine
- your goal is to build muscle
- you’re increasing your workouts in number or intensity
- you are training for a half-marathon
- you’re recovering from an injury
- you have been experiencing signs of low protein intake, including:
- unusual fatigue
- weakness when lifting weights or other strenuous activity
- recovering from an injury slower than usual
- you’re trying to lose weight
Protein Powder Benefits
Let’s take a look at some of the top protein powder benefits you can expect when implementing supplements for protein.
- weight gain
- weight loss
- weight maintenance
- improve lean body mass
- build strength
- enhance endurance
- support quicker recovery time
- support bulking
- tone muscles
- help produce hormones and enzymes
- pre-workout and post-workout support
- lower blood pressure
- help treat type 2 diabetes
Why Protein is Important for Weight Loss
It supports your metabolism, leading to a reduction in your appetite. In addition, with protein supplements, your body can lose fat without sacrificing your muscle.
Why Protein is Important for Weight Maintenance
Incorporating supplements for protein into your daily diet can help with your weight maintenance and management goals. When you consume protein, you tend to feel full for a more extended period.
Protein powder benefits your weight management by helping you eat smaller portions while snacking less often. It also helps with increasing muscle mass. In turn, the more muscle, the more active your metabolism.
Why Protein is Important for Improving Lean Body Mass
Incorporating supplements for protein helps support the building of lean muscle mass. An analysis of forty-nine scientific studies concluded that supplementing with protein powder benefits healthy adults who resistance train to increase muscle size and strength.
Why Protein is Important for Quicker Recovery Time
There’s no question that damaged cells and tissues require adequate time to heal. Protein powder benefits the healing process by speeding recovery time, even for sore muscle aches after strenuous workouts.
Supplements for protein are quick-absorbing, limiting damage to your muscles. As a result, you'll spend less time recovering from workouts and injuries, fitting in more workout time.
Why Protein is Important for Bulking
Protein is crucial to achieving practical bulking goals. Supplements for protein offer tremendous support in helping you reach optimal muscle mass in a short timeframe.
Unlike efforts to lose weight, bulking requires the addition of carbs and fats. There are supplements for protein that are specifically created to include significant servings of essential macronutrients needed for a healthy bulk. As a result, they can quickly provide the desired 20 to 50 grams of protein and 30 to 200 grams of carbs to support optimal bulking.
Why Protein is Important for Your Pre-Workout
Adding a pre-workout protein powder shake to your routine can be a game-changer. Think of pre-workout supplements as a way to prime your body for the hard work it's about to do.
If you’re looking to rev up your workout, a protein supplement with carbs will provide the fuel you need to maximize your efforts. The combination gives your body the extra energy to burn, preventing muscle damage from overexertion.
Keep in mind – timing is everything. For optimal results, enjoy a protein shake roughly thirty minutes before your workout. Your protein powder benefits may peak too soon if you drink your shake too early.
On the other hand, consuming your shake too close to your workout could leave you without enough time to digest. To avoid stomach discomfort, stick with the thirty-minute window.
Why Protein is Important for Your Post-Workout?
A post-workout supplement for protein provides your body with the vital nutrients and vitamins necessary to recover. In addition, an efficient workout recovery allows your muscles and tissues to rest and repair.
Research shows that an effective protein powder benefits you most when it contains carbohydrates. This is possible because the addition of carbs helps accelerate your body’s production of insulin. In addition, it increases the movement of nutrients throughout your muscles to support quick repair and recovery.
Whey protein powder benefits also include quick digesting action. So if you're searching for a healthy way to create lean muscle fast, whey protein may be your answer.
Again, timing is everything to reap the ultimate protein powder benefits. Consume your post-workout protein shake immediately following your workout or as close as possible. This timeframe is the optimal window of time to gain maximum results.
Why Protein is Important for Your Blood Pressure
If you’re concerned with high blood pressure, adding supplements for protein may lower your risk factors for heart disease.
In some studies, adding whey protein supplements has lowered blood pressure levels. This reduction may be due to the link between the consumption of dairy, attributed to a family of bioactive peptides found in dairy products.
Why Protein is Important for Type 2 Diabetes Patients
Insulin is the hormone responsible for stimulating the uptake of blood sugar into cells. Whey protein powder benefits may include helping treat type 2 diabetes through:
How Protein Helps Type 2 Diabetes
- moderates your blood sugar levels
- increases your levels of insulin
- increases your sensitivity to its effects
Whey protein powder benefits patients due to properties comparable to those found in diabetic drugs.
Consuming whey protein supplements with or before you enjoy a high-carb meal has been known to moderate blood sugar. This moderation has been noted in both type 2 diabetics and healthy individuals.
Types of Supplements for Protein
While whey is known as the king of protein, there are many additional sources of protein powder. Selecting a supplement or protein should be based on your goals and lifestyle needs.
Plant-Based Protein Sources:
Plant-based protein supplements are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, derived only from plant protein. They include a variety of plants to ensure the supplement provides a complete source of protein. However, you can also find single-ingredient plant-based supplements for proteins.
Plant-based powders are an excellent choice if you have dairy concerns or restrictions. We also recommend trying a plant-based option if you're starting a vegetarian diet. You'll ensure your body receives all the essentials as you adjust to your new diet.
The most common sources of plant protein are:
Soy Protein Powder Benefits
Soybeans are ground into a meal and processed into soybean isolate. Soy protein powder isolate is prevalent because of its low carb and high protein content.
Soy protein is loaded with additional benefits from ingredients including:
-glutamine to aid quick recovery
-BCAA's, or branched-chain amino acids, to support recovery
-arginine to dilate blood vessels, allowing nutrients to reach the muscles faster and more efficiently
Pea Protein Powder Benefits
You'll also find many plant-based supplements for protein that contain pea protein. Pea protein is a high-quality alternative to dairy-based and soy- proteins.
It is an excellent source of arginine and iron. Pea protein is known for supporting muscle growth and weight loss goals.
Hemp is an excellent supplement for protein for vegans and people with dairy or soy allergies. Hemp seeds are complete proteins and contain essential fatty acids.
Hemp protein does not contain cholesterol and saturated fats found in many animal protein sources.
Additional hemp protein powder benefits include:
- boosting metabolism
- supports digestion
- promotes lean body mass
Whey Protein Powder Benefits
Whey has earned the reigning title of king. You can find whey in concentrate and isolate form. Whey concentrate tends to be cost-effective and can be used as a pre-workout, post-workout, and meal supplement.
Whey isolate is a quicker absorbing protein. In addition, whey isolates are typically low in carbs and sugars, particularly appealing to those on a low-carb diet.
More notably, whey isolate is extremely easy for the body to digest and absorb. These benefits allow essential nutrients to reach the bloodstream and muscles faster. Your post-workout will benefit tremendously from this quick delivery.
The process of refining whey isolate is virtually lactose-free. This benefits people who have difficulty digesting dairy and may offer a suitable alternative.
Part of whey's popularity stems from western culture's dairy obsession. Milk contains two types of proteins — whey and casein.
Whey Protein Powder Benefits:
Whey protein makes up approximately 20% of the protein found in milk. It's the watery byproduct of cheese making. Whey protein contains an incredible amount of the essential amino acids your body requires to function.
Whey's high protein content enhances athletic performance. Whey is known to help reduce eczema and plaque psoriasis.
Casein Protein Powder Benefits:
Casein is derived from cow's milk but gets digested more slowly. This type of protein makes up the remaining 80% of the protein found in milk and is also a byproduct of the cheese-making process.
Casein contains a variety of bioactive peptides. These peptides can boost your immune and digestive systems, as well as provide different heart health benefits.
Casein is known for providing support to post-workout recovery and is ideal for before-bed nutrition, meal replacement, or snack. Since digestion can take 5-7 hours, your muscles are fed and nurtured throughout the day or as you sleep.
Casein protein powder benefits also include supporting and boosting overall muscle growth.
Additional Supplements for Protein:
If the typical supplements for protein don't seem to fit your goals and needs, you can consider additional ones.
Hydrolysate protein provides highly absorbable peptides. This protein source offers a powerful anabolic, or muscle building, effect. Hydrolysate protein powder benefits include being easier on your digestive system. It can also be used for your pre and post-workouts.
Milk protein isolate contains whey and casein proteins. It is high in amino acids and usually found in a blend of various proteins. While not the most often sought-after choice, this protein option can help improve bone strength and support your immune system.
Milk protein contains all nine essential amino acids your body Is unable to produce naturally. It also offers your body a great source of the amino acid leucine. Leucine helps start muscle protein synthesis.
Additionally, milk protein may stimulate your muscle growth at a faster rate than casein protein. Research suggests this growth may also continue over a more extended period than with whey protein powder.
Egg whites were once a popular source of protein. Loaded with egg albumin, they contain an impressive amino acid profile. Egg albumin is most known for building lean muscle mass.
Bone Broth Protein
Bone broth is well-known for its nutritional health, wellness, and beauty benefits. Due to the extraction process, bone broth powdered protein supplements can offer you all its protein directly from the broth itself, unlike casein and whey’s process.
Nutrients Found in Bone Broth Protein
- protein collagen
- amino acid glycine, which protects you from muscle loss
- joint health nutrients, including chondroitin and glucosamine
- glutamine to reduce muscle soreness and damage
- proline for repairing joints
- hyaluronic acid for maintaining flexibility in your joints and ligaments
A Closer Look at Whey Protein Powder Benefits
Research shows several health benefits help make this supplement the reigning king of protein powder. Whey protein powder benefits include:
Building muscle is one of the top reasons people turn to whey protein powders.
How Does Whey Build Muscle?
When used after your workout, whey supplements can significantly increase your muscle mass. Whey protein and amino acids work together to strengthen, repair, and build your muscle.
Whey supplements for protein are rich in the amino acid leucine, responsible for protein synthesis. This process utilizes the protein your body consumes and absorbs to stack muscle.
Whey protein stimulates your hormones, including insulin, prompting your body to increase muscle mass. This process maximizes gains during the anabolic window.
Protein and carbs must be consumed within a critical timeframe to build muscle mass, known as the anabolic window. During the thirty minutes immediately following your workout, your body can reap the optimal benefits of your workout.
If you’re counting macros and including supplements for protein to help raise your overall protein consumption, whey protein is an ideal choice.
Macronutrients, the primary nutrients that make up the foods you eat, are broken down into three types: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Macros are the molecules that aid your body in creating energy. Carbs, protein, and fats are those energy sources that keep you going.
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. They provide vital fuel for your central nervous system and the energy your body needs to power your muscles. In addition, carbohydrates are critical for brain function, offering a source of essential vitamins and minerals.
Dietary fats help give your body the energy necessary to support healthy muscle growth. In addition, healthy fats offer protection to your organs, produce hormones, and regulate your body temperature.
Additional whey protein powder benefits include:
- moderating blood sugar levels
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing inflammation
- easing symptoms of IBS
- boosting antioxidant defenses
Understanding the Downside of Whey Protein
Although whey protein is king, it also comes with a few drawbacks for some people. Understanding the ins and outs of whey can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your goals and needs.
Whey supplements for protein are a nutrient-dense food. If you’re one to digest dairy easily, amino acids are readily available to support your muscle growth and workout recovery.
However, whey protein also contains high levels of sugar and saturated fat. These two culprits can threaten your healthy lifestyle efforts. Overlooking these nutritional factors may cause weight gain, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, and additional health concerns.
There are still additional factors to consider if you're currently using whey protein powders low in saturated fats and sugar. For instance, whey protein is highly processed. In addition, many protein supplement brands include artificial sweeteners. This alone can lead to an array of other health conditions.
Whey supplements for protein may also lead to increased acidity in your blood over time. This increase is due to the combination of dairy and a complete amino acid profile.
There are also environmental factors you may want to be aware of when considering your protein powder options. For example, the cows raised to produce the milk supply for most protein supplements may lead to a massive methane byproduct. Large quantities of methane gas are known to be harmful to the environment.
Whey vs. Plant-Based: Exploring Your Vegan Options
While whey protein may offer a complete protein source, you can still fulfill your protein needs and maintain your vegan lifestyle. Combining essential amino acids from different sources still offers tremendous benefits.
Many vegan protein brands offer protein sources in their pure form. You will also find the most popular plant-based protein supplements blend a variety of vegan protein sources. There are several benefits to choosing a vegan supplement for the protein that utilize protein from multiple sources. Multiple vegan protein sources allow your body to combine amino acids and form a complete protein source.
Mixed Source Plant-Based Protein
Brands create high-quality mixed source vegan protein powders by drying a variety of plants. These plants may include soy, peas, seeds, and rice. Upon drying, they are made into fine powders.
The nutrients are extracted and processed through a filtering system. This process removes any undesirable components, including carbs and fats. The process is adjusted according to the desired formula of each particular vegan protein powder product being created.
Vegan supplements for protein powders are as easily absorbed as whey protein powder. As a result, your body will enjoy the same benefits and may even take in fewer calories.
Choosing a multi-sourced vegan supplement for protein powder can also be as filling as whey protein. The high satiation of vegan protein stems from its high fibre content. This benefit is one thing whey protein falls short on.
Higher fibre also takes longer for your body to break down, offering additional support to your metabolism function. In addition, the slow digestion process tends to be easier on your digestive tract, creating a healthy gut microbiome.
Whey protein supplements tend to be higher in saturated fats. On the other hand, vegan protein options typically offer higher amounts of good fats like omega-3s.
When compared, vegan supplement protein sources offer the opposite of some adverse effects of whey protein. For instance, vegan protein is known for balancing your body's pH, while whey protein can be known to increase its acidity.
The Downside of Plant-Based Protein
It’s important to recognize the potential drawbacks of choosing vegan supplements. Vegan supplements lack the same immune-boosting properties found in whey protein. Lactoferrin, an anti-microbial and anti-cancer molecule, is one such property you won’t receive in a plant-based protein powder.
Whey protein powders are known for detoxifying your liver. This is made possible due to higher concentration levels of the amino acid cysteine. However, vegan supplement alternatives do offer help detoxing your liver, just not as extensively as whey.
For some, the taste and texture of plant-based protein powders are tough to overlook. While specific formulas can offer a smooth blend, plant-based protein powders just can’t quite match the texture of a whey protein powder. Many plant-based powders have a thicker consistency and won’t dissolve in liquid as easily as whey does. Whey protein powders are also known for their delicious milkshake-like taste.
The Popularity of a Protein Shake
If you're just starting in the world of protein powders or have been an avid user, it can still be a challenge to keep up with the market today. There are many protein powder benefits and options to consider, from flavours to forms. Knowing when to add in your supplements for protein can even be a bit daunting. But, one thing is certain – a protein shake offers convenience!
Whether you’re looking to add a pre-workout supplement for protein or to enhance your post-workout routine, brands like Perfect Sports, Allmax, ANS Performance, and PEScience know how to make a protein shake with the ingredients your body needs.
Protein Shake Basics
To ensure optimal results, the most important thing to keep in mind is that timing is everything. Knowing when to consume your shake to supplement protein is just as vital as which shake to drink. The two are crucial in reaching your workout goals. So, how do you help your protein shake yield the best results? First, let's take a look at some top myths we’d like to clear up.
Top Myths for Optimal Protein Shake Results Debunked
Myth: Supplements for protein, like shakes, will fill you up and slow you down before a workout.
Not true. A pre-workout shake significantly helps fuel your workout. Adding a pre-workout protein shake will boost your energy by adding essential nutrients to push your body.
Myth: Pre-workout shakes are equally effective when consumed any time of day.
Truth: Pre-workout shakes are designed to be consumed within a particular window to ensure your body makes the most of its benefits. So, drink it thirty minutes before your workout, or as specified on your brand's label, or you will NOT reap the same rewards. Other types of protein shakes are best as post-workout supplements.
Protein Shakes to Support Weight Loss
Sipping on a convenient shake to help supplement protein throughout the day can support your weight loss goals the right way. The vitamins and nutrients found in your shake will keep your body healthy as you shed the pounds.
Protein shakes help you feel full and satisfied for a more extended period. This is possible because of the help of macronutrients and the release of satiety hormones GLP-1 and PYY.
Incorporating a high-protein diet, shake supplement, and exercise can help you lose unwanted belly fat while toning and building muscle.
There are many reasons why whey protein supplements and others are beneficial to your body. As always, we recommend whole foods as your first choice, but you can reap the benefits of adding high-quality supplements for protein to your daily routine, too!