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Four Questions Answered When Choosing a Protein Source

Four Questions Answered When Choosing a Protein Source:

1) What is protein powder and when should you use it?

Protein powder refers to dietary supplements containing varying blends and quantities of protein-containing ingredients. Typically, the intended use is for meal replacements or a belief that consumption will increase muscle growth, although this is a misconceived notion.

Most Americans already meet or exceed the daily recommendations for protein. Many powders boast 60 grams of protein or more per serving – the daily requirements of an average adult! In fact excess protein can be a big concern. For starters, the body can only utilize the energy it needs. Any excess (or unused) calories store in the body as fat. Consuming too much protein, especially at one sitting, puts unnecessary work on the kidneys. If that’s not enough, protein powder supplementation can be a very costly investment!

2) Should people look for one type over the other, say soy over whey, or vice versa, for example?

Whey protein is a popular choice as it is easily digestible and water-soluble, meaning you’re less likely to get a grainy or lumpy shake. Additionally, it provides a complete protein source. Those with milk sensitivities should avoid whey.

While animal proteins are the most readily absorbed and utilized by the body, soy may be a good alternative for those with milk sensitivities or who are vegan. Avoid soy powders and bars containing soy protein isolates. These are highly processed and concentrated forms of soy that are linked with numerous health risks.

3) Is a protein shake appropriate after a good work-out or should people be turning to other sources to re-charge instead?

Ignore the long-held notion that protein is the primary fuel post-workout. In actuality, carbohydrates feed muscles pre and post workout and spare muscle protein. Protein is an important component for recovery, but the preferred ratio of grams of carbohydrates to protein post workout is closer to 3:1.

If you prefer a post workout shake, make your own! Low-fat Greek yogurt, frozen berries, ground flaxseed, and splash of almond milk can offer great nutrients for muscle recovery. 8 ounces of low fat chocolate milk is another quick and tasty option!

4) Are there any dangers inherent in protein powders or anything to be cautious about?

The FDA oversees dietary supplements such as protein powders, vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals. This “oversight” is loosely regulated and leaves much to be desired. What this means for consumers is that there is no guarantee of the safety or purity of ingredients and manufacturers may not disclose all ingredients found in the product nor quantities. Quality of the product is also under the discretion of the manufacturers. Numerous tests performed on dietary supplements have discovered ingredients not listed on the food labels, including allergens and in some cases, steroids.

If you do supplement, look for packaging that contains the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal. This is a voluntary submission, which guarantees that the product has met strict testing criteria.

More important information when choosing a protein source:

Real, whole foods contain the best sources of dietary protein in their most bioavailable forms. By relying on protein shakes, we may be limiting our intake of vitamins and minerals from natural food sources. We don’t know enough about how each individual body utilizes dietary supplements such as protein powder, nor the trustworthiness of their labels. While we can’t count on what’s in a bottle, we can trust real foods. The safest way to reach optimal nutrition and desired results is to eat real, whole foods!

Categories: Nutrition, Recipes, goals

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