Protein powders are arguably the most popular and best-selling nutritional supplements today. Whatever your fitness program, there is a shake that can be consumed before and post-workout, prior to going to bed, upon waking and even between meals. With so many to choose from, how do you decide with one is best for you? Or the better question would be, do you really need it in your diet?
Protein and Your Body
Much of the body is composed of protein, which is also made up of a complex network of amino acids. Protein is a key nutrient that is essential to proper body functioning, including muscle building and strength and recovery following intense physical activities. To ensure that there is a balance between the build up and break down of muscle, we must consume a healthy amount of protein through food and drinks.
Having a balanced diet usually already covers one’s protein needs. Foods such as lean meat, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts, and fish are high sources of protein and must be part of what we eat daily. Other protein-rich food include soy, legumes, and grains.
The operative word when it comes to pursuing a high protein diet is balance. If you consume more protein that what you need on a daily basis, you put yourself at risk for serious health problems. For example, the excess protein could be stored in your body as fat. It could also have problematic effects on your bones and kidney, as it can negatively affect creatine and uric acid levels in the blood. That’s why when you’re considering adding a protein shake to your diet, one serving should contain no more than 30 grams.
Do you need to add a protein shake to your diet?
As a general rule, the only time you should add a protein supplement is when your usual food intake cannot support your nutritional needs. This is especially true if you go through intense training sessions and have no other alternative because of your busy lifestyle. After an exercise routine, it is also much easier and quicker to prepare a glass of protein shake than to cook a meal. And because most protein powders have a very low fat content, the nutrient is easier to absorb.
Protein supplements are helpful before and after a workout for muscle building and recovery. Prior to a routine, you will need carbs and protein for endurance and strength. This means working out on an empty stomach is a major “no.” You will need sufficient energy and stamina to perform your workouts properly so you need to load up before doing them.
Meanwhile, after a workout, you will need the same composition to recover. Particularly in the evening, a high-protein supplement is crucial to help your body rebuild while you rest. When there’s not enough protein, your body will be hard-pressed to revive itself.
Basically, the key concepts that we need to understand about protein is that it is necessary to consume before, during and post-workout. While there are plenty of powder and liquid supplements in the market, nothing can replace the true power of natural food and a balanced diet. However, because there will be times when taking supplements is necessary, just make sure that you are taking just the right amount you need. Exceeding your daily protein needs can lead to serious repercussions on your health. Overall, if you are unsure about how much your body should consume, talk a health or fitness professional who can assist with your needs.