Protein powders are often associated with high performance athletes who train intensely and need to replenish post workout. But what about those of us who are just going about our daily workout routine, and want to feel our best and full of energy? Should we all include protein powder in our diet? And if so, which ones are the best?
Protein is an essential macronutrient in our diet. There are many foods sources of protein, both animal and plant-based. Lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes and lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds are all high protein foods. The building blocks of protein are amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids, nine of which are essential in our diet as they cannot be made by our body. A variety of high protein foods is ideal, to make sure we get enough of all the essential amino acids. Protein powders are another option for meeting our protein needs – lets chat about the many different types and if we really need it.
The Different Types of Protein Powder
As you have likely seen, there are many different types of protein powders available on the market. Whey protein powders are a common choice. Whey is a protein found in dairy foods, and is a complete source of protein, which means it provides all the essential amino acids. Casein is similar to whey as it is also a protein found in dairy, however it is absorbed slightly differently.
There are also a number of plant-based protein powder options. These are great for those who have a lactose intolerance, follow a vegan diet, or just prefer a plant-based option. Plant-based protein powders include soy, rice, and the currently trending pea protein. Generally, these protein powders do not contain all the essential amino acids. Of these options, pea protein is the closest to a complete amino acid profile.
Regardless of the type of protein powder you choose, it is important not to rely of these for all your protein needs, and include them in your diet along with many high protein foods.
The Bottom Line…
For the majority of us, we can meet our protein requirements each day through food sources alone. Generally speaking, us ladies require 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. And for the guys – 0.84g/kilogram body weight/day.
Of course, for some people adding protein powder to their diet is helpful in meeting their protein needs. For example, those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may use a plant-based protein powder. Protein powder can also be great if you do not have an appetite in the morning or are time poor. A quick protein shake can be a convenient solution so you do not skip a meal entirely. Athletes who have higher protein needs may also benefit, however this is really on an individual basis.
It is important to consider that protein powders are not a replacement for whole foods, and should not be relied on for all your protein needs. While a protein powder provides a good hit of protein, your body also needs the other macronutrients and vitamins and minerals that are present in high protein wholefoods.
It is important to consider that protein powders are not a replacement for whole foods, and should not be relied on for all your protein needs.
There is no one size fits all answer on this topic. As a dietitian I recommend getting your nutrition through wholefoods wherever possible, so be sure to include plenty of high protein foods daily. As we have mentioned there are some instances where protein powders can the helpful in addition to high protein foods in your diet. The type of protein powder you choose is really up to you!
If you are concerned about your protein intake, or if you have specific training goals you are working towards, I recommend you make an appointment with an Accredited Practising Dietitian or an Accredited Sports Dietitian. This way you can be sure that your diet plan and supplement regime is tailored to your individual needs!
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