Whether you’re an experienced lifter or just getting started, odds are you probably know that your body needs protein in order to grow and maintain muscle. While you can get a good amount of protein by eating a balanced diet, many people need even more than that to reach their fitness and health goals. Protein powder is a quick and easy way to up your protein intake. Let’s take a look at why protein is so important.
There are three macronutrients that provide our bodies with the energy to function daily. These are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Out of those three, protein helps build muscle, repair tissue, make enzymes and balance hormones. Using protein powder has shown to also aid weight loss, gain muscle, tone muscle, and improve physical performance. It is necessary for a healthy immune system and required for organs like your heart, brain, and skin to function properly.
During a hard workout, you’re using up energy and tearing muscle microfibers so that they will grow back stronger. After you lift, it’s important to intake protein in order to improve muscle protein synthesis--a naturally occurring process where new muscle is produced to repair those damaged during training. Thus, by upping your post-lift protein intake, you’ll have a shorter recovery period and will likely become stronger and develop muscle quicker.
There are several different types of protein powders to choose from--Check out this list to see which one is right for you.
Whey protein is by far the most popular protein supplement and is found in dairy products. It’s high in amino acids and is popular for how quickly it is absorbed by your muscles and other tissues. It’s also the highest protein concentration of all the powders so you’re getting more bang for your buck
The only downside to whey protein is that its main ingredient is an animal byproduct. So, if you don’t tolerate dairy well, this may not be the one for you.
Soy protein is a great vegan alternative to whey and comes from soybeans. It also contains many amino acids that they body needs and has shown to bring down cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health over time. It’s a lower calorie option that can be great for casual protein intake between meals or after a workout.
Hemp protein is another popular vegan option that comes from the cannabis plant. Hemp protein doesn’t contain any cholesterol or saturated fats, unlike many sources of animal proteins. Three tablespoons of hemp protein powder contain around 90 calories and 3 grams of fat while packing in 15 grams of protein--this makes it a great low calorie supplement. It also contains all of the 22 essential amino acids needed for the body to function properly
Casein protein is an animal byproduct similar to whey but much less acknowledged as a mainstream source of protein. Many experts suggest taking casein along with whey because, while whey is immediately absorbed by your body, casein naturally breaks down slowly so that your body can use it for longer periods of time. It’s also lower in protein density than whey but has shown to be easier to digest for people who have trouble with dairy products. Since casein breaks down slowly, many people take it before bedtime so muscle doesn’t break down over night.
Rice protein has a medium absorption rate and is another less popular choice in the fitness community. It’s gluten free, dairy free, and soy free, making it a great choice for people with any type of allergy. As you might’ve guessed, it comes from rice and is the same type of protein you’d get from drinking rice milk. If your body tolerates rice well, this may be the protein powder for you. While it has a similar level of protein to whey, it also boasts zero cholesterol and low sodium levels.
Egg white protein is basically just a concentrated egg white made into powder. This is a low calorie option that is perfect if you’re trying to lose weight while maintaining muscle. Because it’s just the egg white without the yolk, you’re getting all the protein without the fat and carbohydrates. While it’s not vegan, it is dairy free and used by many people with lactose intolerance.
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