Protein Powders: Which one is for you?

I am going through some articles I wrote and posted on one of my other blogs back in 2011 and I came across this one about protein powders.

Since one of my health goals is to gain weight and increase muscle mass, I have been researching protein powders.  While it is recommended that we receive our protein from whole foods, I decided to research supplementing my diet with a protein powder. With the various types of protein powders on the market, how do we know which one is right for us? I found that it depends on the type of diet we eat i.e. vegan, vegetarian, carnivore looking to supplement to your meals, whether for body building, or whether it is for weight loss.

Protein powders offer several health benefits besides building muscle.  Protein powders repair and build muscle, aid in burning fat, boost postworkout muscle repair, improve general health, and is provides a protein option for Vegetarian and Vegans.

This is what I’ve discovered.  There are several types of protein powders ie whey, casein, soy, brown rice, and hemp.

Whey – Whey is a milk protein which repairs muscles right away and is instantly absorbed. When it comes to building lean muscle, research shows that whey protein is the way to go. Being the most popular protein powder on the market, whey provides an ideal array and proportion of amino acids to assist with muscle recovery and growth, as well as enhancing fat loss. Derived from milk, whey is considered the fastest-digesting “complete” protein, meaning that it contains all the essential building blocks of muscle (amino acids), including high amounts of the all-important group of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAAs become depleted after exercise and are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue. It is recommended to consume whey immediately after working out to repair muscle damage. This is critical because the muscles feel like a sponge.

Casein – Casein is another milk protein although it absorbs slower than whey.  Casein has a lower biological value (BV) than whey therefore a lower percentage of protein is absorbed. An advantage of casein provides a slower and prolonged release of amino acids over time. This slow release is important for reducing muscle damage, which can occur for up to 48 hours postworkout. For women looking to maintain lean muscle tissue, casein may be more beneficial before bed because the slow absorption will supply the body with protein through the night when the body enters a catabolic state (breakdown of protein tissue for energy). This slow release can also help you to feel fuller longer, thereby supporting weight-loss efforts by helping you take in fewer calories.

Soy – Soy is a popular vegetarian protein source, soy protein is something to consider for boosting overall health. Sports research shows that soy results in inferior strength gains when compared to whey, the differences are minimal for a healthy woman. At the end of the day, an elite athlete may need the slight edge of whey due to heavy training, but for the average active gal, soy protein powder provide the biggest bang for your “health” buck.

Note: research and check that soy is not genetically modified.

Rice – While much of rice seed is carbohydrate, it does contain some protein, which is extracted without the use of chemicals during processing to make brown rice protein powder. As with all plant proteins, quinoa is an exception, rice protein is incomplete. It lacks one of the essential amino acids, lysine, which helps manage triglycerides, a form of body fat and is necessary for hormone production and bone growth.

Hemp – Hemp is perfect for vegans or those who want to avoid foods of an animal origin. Hemp protein offers inflammation-fighting power of essential fatty acids. The omega-3s in hemp aid in muscle recovery after workouts or training. Whole hempseeds contain a small percentage of a highly digestible protein, however, the amino acid profile is not complete, but eating a variety of plant proteins throughout the day which include a mix of beans, legumes and grains may provide your body with all the essential aminos you need.

Note: don’t over do it on the protein.  Look at your weight then look at the amount of protein that should be in your diet.  There are several websites that provide protein calculators.  Be sure to drink lots of water.  If you are in the minority and need to gain weight, I would eat frequent meals throughout the day to increase calories and supplement with smoothies or shakes and add whey protein for a quality source of protein.

One other note, whey protein shakes are often used at the end of workouts by many bodybuilders and weight lifters because they are easily digested and absorbed in the body. This leads to faster recoveries and more muscle mass..

Note: I recommend checking labels to verify whether the protein powder and ingredients contain GMOs.  Check sugar content and type of sugar.  I recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners.  Also, check with your physician if you are taking any type of medication.

I’ve researched several protein powders on the market from protein powders available at GNC and gyms to multi-level marketing companies (Isagenix, Juice Plus, Arbonne, Chris Powell’s line, Herbalife, Shakelogy, and USANA)  to the Vitamin Shoppe. My favorite protein powder is a vegan protein such as Sunwarrior, BlendFresh, and David Wolfe’s Vegan Blend. Raw Meal and Vega are ok.  I felt that they were a little grainy.  USANA is my recommendation for whey protein because they use non-GMO ingredients.  Arbonne has a great vegan protein powder – it is non-GMO. Juice Plus is good for soy.  They use non-GMO soy in their protein powders. The others have questionable ingredients.

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