The USDA identifies protein not just for its muscle building characteristics, but various other health benefits. Protein is also used repair just about everything in the body because it is the foundational molecule of tissue and cartilage. Nothing in our body could function without a proper protein intake, whether it be from a supplement or food.
Now we’re not saying you should skip the doctor and consume just protein powder because that would not be a smart move. The hundreds of athletic protein powder brands you see plastered across the internet are going to be used in and after exercise, not because you broke a bone or are suffering from an illness.
In our buyer’s guide, we identified Whey based protein as the most popular protein powder on the market. You may have also identified a powder that might suit your goals the best, but what exactly are you getting out of it? You want to be sure that you are getting your money’s worth in due time.
Not all powders are manufactured the same way nor do they all have the same purpose. As we saw in the powder guide, most powders differ on their carb and protein content depending on what the end goal is. Muscle growth and weight loss are the two prominent goals of most people who purchase powders. Muscle growth will involve more exercise than weight loss, the latter having more to do with diet alteration.
Here we will explore some of the many benefits of utilizing protein powders to better aid your exercises.
Table of Contents
As A Supplement
Eating protein-heavy food three to four times a day can be time consuming and expensive. No one wants to spend more money than they have to. The buyer’s guide identified certain brands that sell large quantities of protein powder that could take the place of several meals, or at least be the type of meal that comes after a workout.
If you’re looking to save money on protein-rich foods at the most expensive grocery store, protein powder will not only give you the same ingredients but make your stomach feel full in the process. Further, mixing your powder with fruits or vegetables will create a more interesting taste.
- You don’t have to consider a protein powdered meal as just an after-workout, energy supplier. Since protein shakes contain all the vital elements of a healthy meal, it’s perfectly ok to have one for breakfast, lunch, or on the go. Better yet, whenever you so choose.
Ghrelin is the hormone in the human body that makes you feel hungry. Some of us feel hungry all the time even after consuming a normal sized meal. A good mix of protein powder will combat this feeling by lowering the level of Ghrelin in your body (but not fully eliminate it, that would be dangerous!).
The goal, in the case of hunger, would be to stimulate the growth of Cholecystokinin, the hormone that acts up when you are hungry and tries to suppress that feeling. Don’t be frightened, because your stomach is not running on empty. It is our natural intuition to only feel full after eating a large or satisfying meal. You’d be surprised how powders and foods, despite their size, will make you feel like you’ve wolfed down three bacon cheeseburgers, but are far more healthy.
To skip the long digestion period after a workout, gym goers and athletes alike will usually consume a protein shake to get the most out of their workouts. As we mentioned before, muscles will grow back from their micro tears bigger and stronger if they are supplied the necessary proteins. The important thing to realize is that you won’t see results tomorrow or the day after. Only through patience and a good exercise ethic can you achieve your goals over time.
Disclaimer: Protein powder will not increase the size of your biceps by three inches by tomorrow morning!
When you eat any food, meat, for example—you aren’t just consuming protein. Your body absorbs whatever was on that slab to fuel your metabolization. This includes iron, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats to name a few. Most protein powders will give you all of these vital nutrients in addition to the primary compound—protein. When you begin your research into which powder you want to invest it, it’s not uncommon to see them advertised with additional compounds. Some examples include:
Most if not all of these substances are included to help in the metabolic process at the molecular level, where the transfer of energy and protein occurs. If the brand supplies them inside the powder at no additional cost, all the more power to you!
- It is still wise to research most if not all ingredients on the protein powder’s nutrition facts to ensure you are not allergic to them.
Eating too much of one particular meal or food type could have adverse side effects on your body later on and the same goes for protein powder. If you are serious about purchasing protein power on the regular, it is important to keep both food intake and protein powder consumption at a healthy balance.
- Protein powders are not growth hormones. Artificial growth hormones, sometimes referred to as anabolic steroids, can have fatal side effects if used improperly and frequently, hence their banning by many sporting organizations. Protein powders are filled with the same basic nutrients found in your body and only adds to that count rather than introducing artificial, foreign bodies.
Don’t feel obligated to go for the least satisfying powder just because it has the highest concentration of protein. Mixing your shakes with fruits and vegetables grants your body all the benefits of a nutritious meal without creating a bland taste. See the vegan and best tasting categories of our buyer’s guide.
Some powder manufacturers recognize this gap in between taste and nutritional benefits. Their powders are manufactured with a healthy balance of ingredients that satisfy your taste buds without leaning too heavily on the sugary, junk food side. In the end, it will come down to your choice whether taste is a factor. The important thing to do is to track your growth over the weeks and months after you begin to take your supplement.
- Protein is a macronutrient, much like carbohydrates and fats, that is needed by the body to survive and is crucial to growth and development of humans. You expend energy by burning and using these macronutrients so it would make sense that to grow further, you would need more than your recommended daily intake.
We saw in the buyer’s guide that those with vegan diets can find protein powders that are suitable for them. Protein is essential for all life to grow (yes, even plants), and you can even get a similar experience with a plant-based powder as you would with a normal, whey type powder.
- Meats like chicken, steak, and beef do contain large amounts of protein but also come with a high amount of acidity and fats depending on how you cook it. If you want to circumvent spending money on a large meal, a plant-based protein powder provides all the rich minerals your body thrives on for a fraction of the price.
There are no adverse side effects to anyone, with any particular diet, in consuming a plant-based protein powder. Many of the compounds and molecules that plants use to create energy can be consumed to aid our internal health.
- Plants use a compound called chlorophyll to help their photosynthesis process. It doesn’t quite work that way for humans, but chlorophyll will help “clean” your body of toxicity in the organs, blood, and it has proven to be helpful in eliminating body odor. These may not all contributors to muscle building but they contribute to your health in such a way that you’ll see the better condition of your body over time.
You saw in our buyer’s guide how popular Vegan powders can be when it comes to taste as well. The Vegan based powders will generally be more useful and preferable to someone with lactose intolerances because of their lack of dairy-based products and ingredients.
Strength and Metabolism
Building muscle is one thing, maintaining it and the health of your body is another. The more muscle mass you gain, the more calories you are going to use during the day and during your workout. Protein powder allows you to keep up your own momentum as you become stronger and stronger. You can’t expect to get to your desired physical state and hope to keep it without maintaining a proper intake of protein either from powder, food, or some other supplement. Here’s an easy way to remember it:
- Protein builds muscle which burns calories.
Metabolism is defined as the overarching processes that occur each second that keeps your body functioning. From the heart pumping blood to brain activity, protein is a key fuel to a fast metabolism. A fast metabolism enables you to burn calories and fat and build muscle/gain weight at a heightened pace.
Weight Loss vs. Muscle Building
Men and women have shown a noticeable divide in the type of goals they want to hit. Men typically go for muscle building, while women strive for weight loss. This doesn’t mean that those goals aren’t interchangeable between the genders of course because everyone’s decision is their own.
Just because you are losing weight doesn’t mean that you are becoming unhealthy. Losing weight normally involves cutting out fats and consuming fewer calories. When you go back to the gym or exercise after losing your desired weight, it will be generally easier for you to gain back muscle instead of fat.
Remember, both goals can become unhealthy if pursued to an unsafe degree. More importantly, you should track your progress to make sure that you aren’t losing too much weight and your muscle growth isn’t impeding any bodily functions.
We can’t stress enough how important protein is as a building block of life, perhaps the most important of all. Protein shouldn’t be looked at as just a highway for you to grow the biggest muscles. You won’t be able to do much good if you’re bedridden from illness or injury. It should come as no surprise that many medicines you take and antibiotics contain proteins that help rebuild strength that was lost during illness or injury.
- Including protein powder in your diet will aid in your bodies natural defenses against the many obstacles that nature throws at you. Prevention and repair are the name of the game when it comes to protein’s capabilities.