Different people take protein powders for many different reasons. Some people use it to help them gain muscle, others use it to help them tone up and lose fat.
Protein powder can also be used to help with appetite management, reduce unhealthy snacking, easily boost the protein content of snacks and meals, or to just add some extra flavour and nutrition to your food!
EXPLAINING HOW, WHEN AND WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT TO GET THE BEST RESULTS!
In this blog post, I will explain how, when and why you should use protein powder to supplement your diet and maximize your individual health and fitness progress.
MUSCLE GAIN & REPAIR:
BENEFITS OF USING A PROTEIN POWDER FOR INCREASED MUSCLE GAIN:
- Many studies have shown that consuming a high protein drink/snack post-workout appears to increase the rate of muscle repair and growth (MPS).
- Consuming protein soon after your workout allows the amino acids to be digested and become rapidly available to your muscles through the increased blood flow to the damaged muscle fibers.
- It is thought that the rate of protein utilization by the muscle tissue is highest immediately post-workout, but remains at a slightly increased rate for up to 24-48 hours post-workout.
- If you are training in a fasted state (no food for 3-4 hours before training), then it considered to be highly beneficial to consume something high in protein as soon as possible post-workout, since the level of amino acids in your blood will be low, and needs to be boosted in order to make the most of the increase in muscle protein utilization!
- Protein powder makes it super easy and convenient to get a good hit of protein in immediately post-workout, just mix with water and you’re good to go!
FAT LOSS & APPETITE CONTROL:
So although protein powder is a great tool for gaining muscle, it can also be used for losing fat & helping you to manage your appetite.
This is why it is important that we understand the different ways of using protein powder for our specific health and fitness goals!
When your focus is on fat loss, rather than muscle gain, it is not quite so important to consume protein powder immediately post-workout. Taking protein post-workout will still help your muscles to repair and recover better, however there may be other times when having protein powder will help you more.
Many people experience that they feel more satiated (aka ‘fuller for longer’) after consuming a high protein meal/snack compared to one that is low in protein. Although the scientific evidence on this increased satiety is currently unclear, it does make sense. Protein is typically more difficult for our bodies to digest than carbohydrates or fats; meaning that protein stays in your stomach for longer, and provides a more sustained feeling of fullness.
ANOTHER WAY THAT PROTEIN CAN ASSIST IN INCREASING FAT LOSS IS BY THE THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD.
The thermic effect of food is basically the number of calories that your body burns as it is digesting the food you have eaten. So although you are consuming calories in the food you eat, some of those calories will naturally be used up by your digestive system!
Out of the three main macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein), protein has the highest thermic effect. The accurate values for this thermic effect are still not confirmed, but there are some generally accepted parameters.
PROTEIN – 20-35% OF CALORIES BURNT THROUGH DIGESTION.
CARBOHYDRATE – 15-15% OF CALORIES BURNT THROUGH DIGESTION.
FAT – 0-5% OF CALORIES BURNT THROUGH DIGESTION.
So if you consumed 200 calories of protein vs. 200 calories of fat, you would burn 40-70 calories through digesting the protein compared to burning 0-10 calories through the digestion of fat.
The thermic effect of protein can be a useful tool to improve your fat loss, since consuming a higher ratio of protein in your diet will increase the calories burnt through your digestion.
APPETITE MANAGEMENT + BOOSTING THE NUTRITION OF YOUR MEALS:
Protein powders + protein shakes can be a great way to reduce unhealthy snacking between meals. If you are feeling a little hungry after lunch, or need a boost before the gym/work etc., a protein shake can be a great option to manage your appetite!
A scoop of protein powder mixed with water or blended into a smoothie will give you a good amount of energy, a hit of protein to keep you fuller for longer, and is also a great way to keep you hydrated! A protein shake is a much healthier option than chips, chocolate or other processed junk! It will keep you satisfied and give you an energy boost to help reduce hunger between meals.
Protein powder can also be a great thing to add to your breakfast! Mixed into a smoothie or oats, it will bulk up your meal and increase the protein content, helping you stay full all morning, while also tasting delicious!
IT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT ALTHOUGH SUPPLEMENTING WITH A PROTEIN POWDER CAN HELP YOU TO REACH YOUR WEIGHT LOSS / FAT LOSS GOALS; IF IT IS USED INCORRECTLY, IT COULD END UP DOING THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE!
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Although protein powder can be a healthy addition to your diet, they still contain calories, so adding them into your diet without altering anything else about your nutrition or exercise routine will not necessarily help you to lose weight! Protein powders are designed to go alongside a healthy diet and regular activity/exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to be eating 100% clean and going to the gym 5 days a week to see results, but incorporating a protein powder will only help to speed up your progress if you are also putting effort into eating and exercising well!
IMPORTANT INFO & HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PROTEIN POWDER:
Incorporating a protein powder supplement into your diet can help massively on your health and fitness journey, but it’s important to remember that like anything, it needs to be used in moderation!
Keep in mind that protein powder is designed to supplement a healthy diet, not replace it. Just because you have 1-2 servings of protein powder a day does not mean you shouldn’t also be paying attention to the rest of your meals. Getting protein from your food is also super important since it comes along with many other essential nutrients and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy!
While there are the obvious benefits of adding protein into your diet, there can always be too much of a good thing… Remember that it is essential that you are also eating healthy sources of fats and carbohydrates in every meal. It can be easy to think protein is the be all and end all of health and fitness, but that is simply not true! Yes, supplementing protein can be beneficial when used correctly (to gain muscle or manage your appetite), but correct nutrition from your diet should always be your #1 priority! Food should always come before supplements.
Not all protein powders are created equal! You will find some have ingredient lists filled with unrecognizable words and numbers, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and more!
IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL THAT YOU CHOOSE A PROTEIN POWDER THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH, NOT HARM IT!
THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PROTEIN POWDER:
- No Added Sugars – you get enough of these already!!!
- No Artificial Preservatives or Additives – if you don’t recognize an ingredient, look it up!
- Minimal Ingredients – every ingredient should serve a purpose.
- Additional Beneficial Ingredients – things like vitamins or added nutrients that boost the nutritional content of the product.