The protein powder is a popular nutritional supplement. Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and produce enzymes and hormones. Using protein powder can also help you lose weight and help people tone their muscles.
There are many different types of protein powders, including dairy-based and plant-based powders. In this article, we discuss some of the health benefits of protein powder and the different types available.
Health benefits of protein powder
Protein is one of the building blocks of bones, muscles, and skin. The body needs it to make hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals. Possible health benefits of protein powders include the following:
Eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements can help people feel fuller for longer. Feeling full tends to result in smaller portions and less frequent snacking, which can help a person maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.
A 2017 review reported that whey protein supplementation could reduce body weight and total fat mass in people who are overweight or obese
It can also lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Protein is essential for muscle growth. Many athletes and gym enthusiasts consume protein shakes because they believe that these drinks will help them build muscle mass after strength training.
An analysis of 49 studies from 2018 supports the use of protein supplements for this purpose. Research suggests that protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance exercises with routines such as lifting weights.
Protein supplementation was equally effective in men and women. However, the effectiveness may decrease with age, since older adults have higher protein requirements than younger people.
The researchers also noted that once the protein exceeded 1.6 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight (or 0.73 g per pound (lb) of body weight), the participants did not experience any additional benefits.
Recovery after exercise
In addition to contributing to muscle growth, protein can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As a result, athletes can use protein powder to speed recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.
Many studies report that taking protein supplements after exercise can aid recovery by reducing muscle damage and improving muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis.
The recommended daily protein intake for people over 19 years of age is 46 g for women and 56 g for men.
People who find it difficult to meet these amounts, possibly including some vegans and vegetarians, may find that protein powder offers an easy solution to the problem.
Athletes, weightlifters, older adults, and people with a chronic illness may need to exceed the general recommendation for protein intake.
Research shows that athletes with an intense training regimen can benefit from having approximately twice the recommended daily protein intake, which ranges from 1.4 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight. This is equivalent to 111–159 g per day for a person who weighs 80 kg / 175 lb.
Types of protein powder
There are several different types of protein powder. Whey is the most popular protein supplement and the one that researchers have tended to focus on, but it is not the only one. Common types of protein powder include:
This water-soluble milk protein is popular with athletes. It is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids that the human body requires from food. The body absorbs whey protein quickly and easily.
This type of protein is rich in glutamine, an amino acid that can speed muscle recovery after exercise. Casein comes from dairy products, making it unsuitable for vegans and people with milk allergies. The body digests this protein more slowly, so it may be best to take it at night.
Soy or soy protein is a great alternative to whey or casein for people who don't consume dairy products. It also contains all the essential amino acids.
Many plant-based proteins powders contain pea protein, which is a high-quality alternative to soy-based proteins and dairy products. Pea protein is a good source of the amino acid arginine.
Hemp seeds are complete proteins that also contain essential fatty acids. This makes hemp an excellent choice for vegans or those with dairy or soy allergies.
Protein shakes vary in price and quality. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate protein powders.
According to a 2018 study, many of the best-selling protein powders contain heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
Therefore, people should always exercise caution when purchasing protein powders and choosing a product from a reputable supplier.
How to use protein powder
Before using protein powders, people should calculate their nutritional needs. Those who don't get enough protein from their diet might consider supplementing with protein powders.
However, it is best to avoid consuming too much protein. Some powders contain up to 80g per serving, which is too much for most people.
A 2013 review found that long-term overconsumption of protein can damage the kidneys and liver and affect the body's calcium and bone balance.
Excessively high levels of protein in the diet can also result in reduced intake of other beneficial foods, such as the fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes that the body uses to feed and maintain gut bacteria.
The optimal timing for protein supplementation is unclear. Many people suggest taking it after workouts, but research results are inconclusive as studies produce conflicting results.
For example, a 2018 study reported that taking protein supplements with meals is more effective in controlling weight and reducing fat mass than taking them between meals.
In contrast, a 2014 study reported that a 30g dose of protein after exercise improves protein synthesis in those on a low-calorie diet.
People can mix protein powder with water according to the directions on the container. Alternatively, many people mix protein powder with milk or fruit and vegetable smoothies.
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