What you need to know about protein
Protein drinks are ubiquitous in the health and fitness industry. You see people buy them at the gym. You see protein powders at your grocery store. Your girlfriend likes to mix it with her fruit smoothies. You may know someone who leaves a trail of protein powder everywhere he goes, almost as if it was a magical, muscle-creating, meathead-making pixie dust.
Fitness enthusiasts swear buy it, but most of us are also riddled with questions. Should I be drinking protein drinks? Does consuming protein add muscle? What kind of protein powders should I buy? Can I have too much protein?
Typically we think of meat as our main source of protein, but beans, cottage cheese, eggs and soy are also great sources of protein. Many athletes, particularly weight lifters, consume protein drinks after workouts to nourish their bodies.
The common misconception about protein is that it adds muscle mass to your body. In reality, protein delivers amino acids to the muscles that were torn during weight training, enabling the muscles to recover faster. By aiding in recovery, protein allows us to work our muscles more efficiently during our workout, which ultimately leads to bigger gains.
If your goal is to build muscle, consider consuming whey protein shortly after your workout. Having whey protein immediately after your workout means it will be absorbed quickly into your body and help your muscles recover faster. When you are weight-lifting with the goal of bulking up, it is important for your muscles to recover the protein it lost during your workout. Whey protein can help with that. I usually have 1-2 scoops of whey protein mixed in with milk and water after my workout when I am trying to bulk up. There are benefits of consuming protein before a workout as well, as your body calls on those proteins as you work.
Protein drinks can also be beneficial for those who aren’t weight training. Many people add protein to smoothies and meals to make sure they get the recommended daily amounts of protein and to help curb their hunger. Studies have shown that people feel more full on high-protein diets and may consume up to 200 less calories a day. Mixing a protein shake with fruit and milk can be a great way to help keep you more full and stop you from snacking on less healthy foods throughout the day.
If you are interested in using protein powder as a meal replacement, casein protein is a good choice. It is absorbed slowly by the body, and it stays in your body longer. Soy protein can also be used as a meal replacement.
When you are calculating calories, don’t forget to count the calories of the other ingredients you added to your protein shake. A healthy 200-calorie shake can quickly become a 700-calorie drink if you are adding too much to it.
Consuming too much protein can be dangerous and unhealthy. The recommended daily allowance of protein is roughly 15 percent of your total caloric intake, and most people have no problem reaching that goal without adding protein supplements. But that doesn’t mean protein drinks don’t have their place.
If you decide to get protein powder, I highly recommend getting one of these little babies to help mix your drinks. They are fantastic.
Sources: WebMD, The Benefits of Protein and Will Eating Protein Help Your Body Gain Muscle Faster.