Walk into any health food store and you will invariably see shelves stocked with tubs of whey based protein powders, all with a large graphic on the container depicting a ripped and muscled body. Let’s separate some fact from fiction in regards to adding protein powders into your normal diet. Is there any benefit or conversely, is there any harm?
What are the Main Protein Sources for Supplements?
There are 5 main sources that protein powders are manufactured from. They are:
- Whey – a by-product of cheese making and is rich in amino acids. Lactose intolerant individuals should avoid whey powder as it contains approximately 70% lactose.
- Casein is found in milk, making up to 80% of the protein found in cow’s milk. Besides protein, casein supplies calcium, phosphorus and essential amino acids.
- Rice is a source of non-dairy protein and therefore ideal for those that are lactose intolerant. Protein powder made from brown rice is considered superior to powder made from milled white rice.
- Egg white powder is also dairy & lactose free, but while a good source of protein, many people don’t like its taste, with some describing it as “nasty”.
- Soy protein is made from defatted and hulled soybeans. Soybeans are special in that they are the only source of “complete” non-animal protein ,and suit vegetarians or vegans.
How Much Protein Does Your Body Need?
Protein powders in themselves will not get you ripped or build muscle. The body requires, for normal activity is less then 1gram for each Kg (2.2 pounds) of body-weight. This amount of protein can be sourced from a normal diet, with purchasing supplements. Protein cannot be stored in the body as “protein”, so any excess intake will be turned into fat.
Where protein powders supplements can be of benefit is any activity where strenuous exercise is involved. As an example endurance athletes can consume up to 1.4 grams of protein and bodybuilders, who are looking to bulk up, as much as 2 grams per Kg of body weight. Of course protein could be sourced from normal sources such as meat and fish, but would involve eating large amounts, whereas a “protein shake” can supply the needed amounts of protein.
So the upshot of this, is that if you’re not involved in strenuous exercise such as bodybuilding training, consuming extra protein in the form of protein shakes will only lead to an increase of weight, which for the majority of healthy individuals is not something they want