When you're working towards a fitness goal, you might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of whether or not you should include a supplement of some sort in your diet. But what's the hype about? Is it necessary for everyone to supplement their diet with protein?
We were going to talk about all kinds of supplements, but there's so much info on protein supplements that we decided to focus on proteins today and talk about other kinds of supplements in the future.
It's recommended that on average, adult men should have around 56 grams of protein each day and adult women should have around 46 grams of protein each day. These numbers are by no means an absolute, and a good rule of thumb is that you should get 1.6 grams of protein per kilo of your weight or 0.76 grams of protein per pound of your weight. If it's difficult to get the full amount of protein you need, that's where supplements come in!
If you're eating 3-4 servings of protein in whole foods each day, you're probably fine without a supplement. If not, you may want to consider getting a protein boost. Protein supplements should not be used as a meal replacement but simply what their title suggests: a supplement.
On top of ensuring you meet your daily nutritional needs, protein supplements can help with weight maintenance, muscle growth, and recovery after exercise.
Maintaining a healthy level of protein can help a person maintain their current weight or get closer to their desired weight. Studies have shown that protein supplements can help individuals lose weight and may also reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health risks.
Additionally, a 2018 analysis of 49 different studies supports the idea that protein supplements can lead to muscle growth with equal effects in men and women. This is the main reason people take protein supplements: gains on gains. With recovery, supplements can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As we've talked about in the past, a high-protein diet can help relieve DOMS.
A high-protein diet can help people feel full for longer. Feeling full leads to smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking. In this way, protein supplements can aid with weight loss.
If it's difficult for you to get your suggested amount of protein each day, a supplement could be the way to go. If you've decided that you do want to try a supplement, you then have to decide the kind of protein to pick up. And oh boy, there's a lot.
Types of Protein
• Whey Protein: the most commonly used proteins and is the best for general day-to-day use. It contains all of the essential amino acids, is digested easily, helps boost energy, and can reduce stress levels. Whey isolates and concentrates are the most popular.
• Soy Protein: a vegan protein source that reduces high cholesterol. It can ease menopause symptoms in some women and can help with osteoporosis by helping build bone mass.
• Egg Protein: releases more slowly than whey and can be taken throughout the day instead of at one time
• Milk Proteins: can help support immune junction and enhance muscle growth
• Brown Rice Protein: 100% plant-based and a great option for vegans as well as people who are dairy-free or gluten-free.
• Pea Protein: highly digestible, hypoallergenic, and economical
• Hemp Protein: 100% plant-based and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids
That list is very daunting, so let's break it down by what kind of protein you should shop for with your goals and/or dietary needs.
If you want to build muscle: pick a protein with a high biological value. What on earth does that mean? It's a value that measures how well the body can use and absorb a protein. Whey protein and whey isolates are generally the options with the highest biological value.
If you want to lose weight: choose supplements with no added sugars or dextrins/maltodextrins. (Dextrins are sweeteners made from starch.)
If you are a vegan or vegetarian: look for soy, pea, hemp, or brown rice protein.
If you have diabetes: pick a protein without any added sugar. Sugar shouldn't be in the first three ingredients at the very least. Also aim for one that's low in carbs (approx. 10-15 grams).
If you have kidney issues: if you desperately need extra protein, get one with a lower-range protein content (approx. 10-15 grams).
If you have IBS or lactose intolerance: choose powders without lactose sugars, artificial sweetness, or dextrin slmalo- dextrins. Choosing a vegan protein may also be easier on your tummy.
If you don't want to overspend: buy a tub of powder instead of pre-made shakes.
If you're looking to help your muscles, consume proteins within 60 minutes of the end of your workout. That's when your muscles will be the most responsive to the protein. If you're looking to maintain your weight, it's best to consume a steady supply of protein at each meal and snack to stay full longer.
We're always happy to help you figure out which kind of protein is best for you. Samantha is obsessed with PE Science proteins and prefers vegan proteins since she has IBS. Will likes Syntha 6 and Jocko products. And Ashlyn learned a lot while writing this article and will begin her protein search immediately.
Stay tuned for more supplement talk!
What are your favorite proteins?