When you walk down the aisles of your local Whole Foods or GNC, you cannot help but notice the plethora of protein powders available on the market. The choices are endless. The protein powder industry generates $20 billion dollars per year. Plant based, grass-fed, whey based, hemp powders, bone broth powders, collagen powders. How do you even begin to select one and do you even need to be using a protein powder? Here are my tips on when and how to incorporate a protein powder into your life:
Do you get enough protein in your diet through food? Chances are, you may in fact be consuming enough protein through your diet and not even realizing it. Everyone’s protein requirements are different based on your body’s needs and your nutritional goals. It is highly recommended to meet with a nutritionist to determine your personal protein and macronutrient needs. However, you should evaluate how much protein you are getting through food as it may be more than you think. Today, many foods are being infused with protein from bars to water to bagels. Your body can not absorb and metabolize more than 25-30 grams of protein per eating opportunity. Many protein powders contain more grams of protein than necessary and should be avoided.
Aim for approximately 30-40% of your macronutrients to come from protein. Protein can be plant-based in the form of nuts, beans, seeds, tempeh, tofu and lentils or animal-based from meat, fish, eggs, cheese, turkey, chicken and other animal products. If you determine you are not getting enough protein through your diet, you may, in fact, be a candidate for a protein powder supplement.
Many populations do need a protein powder supplement and if you are on this list, you may benefit from taking one:
–An athlete with higher protein requirements.
–You have poor nutrition and an inadequate diet.
–You travel often and are on-the-road without good protein sources available.
–You need to gain weight or build muscle and can not do so through your food.
–You have a poor appetite and need to consume quality protein through a supplement.
–Your goal is to get leaner and you have trouble moderating your diet or portion control.
Keep in mind that many protein powders are simply protein only and do not provide any nutritional benefits. Look for a protein powder that can provide added benefits such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, digestive enzymes and more.
More protein is not better! As mentioned above, you can not even metabolize more protein than your body needs and you could cause issues with your kidneys as well. Avoid protein powders with more than 30 grams of protein per serving. You can also tailor your powders to use half of the amount recommended as you may not need as much as it says on the label. You can also add protein through food to your protein shakes to get added nutritional benefit from foods such as almond butter, chia seeds or peanut butters.
Be sure to select a free-from protein powder. Ensure your protein powder is free-from artificial colors, dyes, colors and sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.