The Benefits of Using a Protein Powder
Protein comes in many forms, from animal protein to plant based protein. It also comes in supplemental forms with many people turning to protein powder to make sure that they are getting enough of this vital nutrient, as well as to use as a meal replacement during weight loss efforts. Supplement sales in the United States in recent years has totaled just less than $25 billion dollars and is only expected to continually climb as more and more adults reach their senior years. (Source: Science Daily, December 2009.) Of this large number, the majority of the products sold are protein based supplements and the average buyer is looking for a way to keep their health. However, there are other groups that buy protein supplements, including protein powder. These groups include body builders who may use the powder as a before or after workout drink, and teens who are trying to stop themselves from eating the fatty fried and greasy foods that their friends all consume in huge quantities.
The Types of Protein Powder
All protein powder comes from four sources and can be either a single ingredient powder or a combination powder. Anyone who has suspected or known food allergies should stick with the single ingredient powder until they know how it will affect them. The four sources for all protein powder are whey, soy, rice, and egg.
Whey protein powder is derived from milk as a byproduct of the process of making cheese. It is the most common of the powders and should not be used by anyone who is lactose intolerant. Like most protein powder, whey protein is available in two forms, a concentrate and an isolate. The concentrate is the least expensive of the two forms and the one that is most easily found in most locations. It contains between 30 and 85% protein. An isolate, on the other hand, has 90% protein and has less fat and less lactose. Whey protein isolate helps to boost immunity, is an optimal source of amino acids, and can enhance muscle recovery after workouts. It is also beneficial in preventing muscular breakdown.
Whey protein is the most like skeletal muscle and contains high levels of arginine and lysine, which in turn are used to stimulate the release of the growth hormone IGFI, an anabolic hormone which is a natural alternative to steroids. Whey protein also contains glutamine, which prevents fatigue and over training. Whey is considered to be a fast protein.
Soy protein powder is derived from soy flour and comes in both concentrate and isolate forms. Soy powder may be used to increase the nutritional value of other foods and is highly digestible. Soy’s benefits include lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and can be used in a vegan diet. Two daily servings of soy protein can lower blood cholesterol by as much as nine points and has been shown to decrease blood pressure. (Source: Natural News, 2006)
Egg Protein Powder
Egg protein powder is derived from egg whites. Eggs are considered to be the “perfect” protein food. All protein is rated and ranked on a scale based on a number of factors, including digestibility. Eggs score a 100% because all of their protein is used by the body. It is the highest natural food source of branch chain amino acids and is also the highest source of alanine, arginine, glycine, and methine (crucial to building muscle). While eggs have been given a bad nutritional reputation in the past, most people now realize they are not nearly the monsters they were formerly made out to be. Each egg has 6.5 grams of protein, 5.6 grams of fat, with only 1.6 grams of that being saturated fats, and less than a gram of carbohydrates.
Egg powder, because it is derived only from the whites of the eggs, is fat free and high in protein.
Rice Protein Powder
Rice powder is isolated from the brown rice flour and is one of the rare, non animal protein sources that is complete. It is hypoallergenic, making it one of the most natural choices for those who have known or suspected food allergies and is appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians. (Source: Segounis, Nutritionist)
How to Use Protein Powder in Your Healthy Diet Plan
Protein powder can be used to supplement protein intake but can also be used as a meal replacement drink. It is very important to use it correctly and to follow all guidelines for safety, including how to store it for travel and for longer term storage. It is also important to read the labels on any kind of powder that you are choosing to buy so that you are finding the right kind, one that is high in protein but not high in calories, for instance. Flavor is also an important consideration with many people thinking about the older style powders and their gritty, chalky, and medicinal taste. Some, especially the egg based protein powders, had a sulfur smell that made drinking it almost an impossible chore.
Mixing the protein powder is very important so that you do not end up with a gritty, lumpy mess. You also need to make sure that you are not using too much powder per serving or it will not mix right. Increasing your powder will not help with the protein intake in the long run.