5 Things To Look For When Buying a Protein Supplement
Protein is crucial for the growth and maintenance of tissues in the body, including bone, muscle, and skin. Various physiological processes depend on hormones, enzymes and other molecules. Protein supports the production of these elements that are required for bodily functions.
Proteins can be derived from a balanced and nutritional diet. However, you may have to opt for protein supplements if you are not getting enough of this nutrient from your diet. For instance, athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts who indulge in heavy training sessions need higher protein intake for muscle growth, strength, recovery, and repair. They also will need the endurance to sustain the demanding physical activity. Similarly, vegans and vegetarians find it difficult to get the required protein from their diet and will have to include supplements to fill the gap.
The next concern will be how to choose the right protein supplement and what to look for in the supplement. Read on to understand the fundamentals of selecting the right protein supplement to match your fitness needs. However, before that, you must understand how protein supplements can actually benefit your body.
Benefits of Protein Supplements
Protein supplements are taken for various reasons, such as losing weight, gaining mass, building muscle strength, and improving athletic performance and overall well-being.
Here are some of the benefits of taking protein supplements regularly:
- Improved muscle growth: Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. Consuming protein supplements, such as whey protein, after exercise can help to support muscle growth and recovery.
- Better weight management: Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, which means that it can help to reduce appetite and promote feelings of fullness. This can be helpful for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
- Convenient and easy to use: Protein supplements are convenient and easy to use, making them a great option for those with busy lifestyles. They can be mixed into shakes or smoothies, or even taken in capsule or tablet form.
- Stronger bone health: Protein is important for maintaining bone density and strength. Consuming protein supplements may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
- Source of additional nutrition: Protein supplements can be a good source of additional nutrition, especially for those who struggle to consume enough protein in their diet. Many protein supplements also contain other beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
- Improves muscle recovery: Protein supplements can help to support recovery after exercise by reducing muscle damage and inflammation. This can help to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing The Right Protein Supplement
Protein powders are a quick way to nourish and satisfy your body. With the endless options available in the market, choosing the protein supplement to meet your goals is a challenge.
Here are a few tips that will help you make the right choice. You will have to consider the following before making the choice:
#1. Nutritional Facts
Persons with food choices have to be very specific while choosing a protein supplement. Whey proteins are normally derived from milk and make it a dairy product. If you are a vegan then animal-derived protein supplements are not for you. Plant-based protein powders like the ones derived from soybean, hemp seeds, etc will be right for you.
If you are a vegetarian but lactose intolerant, whey proteins are not the choice for you. You should specifically look for lactose-free protein supplements. Many whey protein powders available in the market and whey isolates in particular are lactose-free.
Good protein powders are normally gluten-free. If you intend to avoid gluten, then the label to ensure the powder is gluten-free. Most of the brands mention it under the ingredients column.
#2. Your Purpose of Using The Protein Powder
Protein supplements are normally consumed to gain stamina, endurance, and energy to last through a training session. It might also be for fast recovery of muscles after strenuous activity or as a substitute for in-between meals snacking.
Protein supplements contain amino acids. The reaction of these amino acids varies and depends on the time of consumption. If you are using it as a pre-workout supplement the amino acids will remain in your bloodstream throughout the training routine and much after the routine.
It will provide you with the energy required to sustain the training and will also help in quick muscle recovery. For nutrition to your muscles soon after a routine to facilitate fast recovery, consuming the supplement after the workout will work for you. In both cases, whey isolate will be the best for you. It will help build lean muscle and reduce muscle soreness and stiffness.
For protein supplements before bedtime, choose a weight-gain protein powder like casein protein powder. A continuous stream of amino acids during the overnight fasting will be required and casein protein powder is slow-digesting and will suit your requirement.
Avoiding hunger pangs in-between meals without bingeing on unhealthy foods can be quite a challenge. A standard protein powder is a healthy way of substituting a snack. This protein powder will digest at an average rate and will keep you full for longer.
#3. Consider Your Fitness Goals
Different fitness goals have different nutritional requirements. Protein powders are available with different compositions to suit various fitness goals. If your fitness goal is weight loss, then, you should choose a protein powder with low calories and high protein. If you consume a protein supplement without actually being aware of the composition and the repercussions, you may not get the intended results. Instead of wondering what went wrong, make an informed choice.
To Lose Weight: The protein supplement should be low on calories with high protein and low carbs. It should not contain added sugars or maltodextrins. Avoid protein supplements with added BCAAs as they promote muscle growth and weight gain.
To Build Muscle: Choose a weight-gain protein powder with carbohydrates and lipids. These protein powders boost calorie intake to the level required for effective muscle growth. The protein should be bioavailable as well. Whey isolates are the best option.
Protein supplements with protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and dietary fats are good meal replacements. They can be used for both weight gain as well as weight loss. This is an ideal choice for people who require protein throughout the day but have no time for meal preparations.
#4. Compare Brands
There are so many brands of protein supplements available in the market that it can be confusing. Compare the nutritional facts, composition, and pricing of all the brands. Look for synthetic additives or any allergens. Go through the reviews of each brand and go for a brand that is popular and most favourite.
Reading the label for ingredients is an integral part of smart and informed buying. If you are allergic to certain ingredients, then you should certainly watch out. Vegans and lactose-intolerant people should go for plant-based protein powders. Some people may prefer gluten-free protein powders depending on their goals. You should read the label and ensure the ingredients suit your requirement and do not include banned substances.
Your budget is a primary concern. That does not mean you should compromise on quality. Different protein powders are available at different prices. The price is normally linked with the quality of the product. For instance, whey isolates with a higher price tag go through superior processing, have few additives, and are bioavailable. A meal replacement protein powder priced high will have better nutritional value. Go through the ingredients before judging the pricing.
Instead of compromising on quality, you can make your purchase economical by availing of the periodical discounts and deals announced by the brand of your choice.
A lot goes into choosing the best protein supplement. You will have to weigh your choice depending on your fitness goals, the time of consumption, specific ingredient requirement, and budget. You make an informed choice by comparing the brands available in the market. Go through the reviews for the quality and efficacy of the product. Read the label for allergens, additives, and composition.
Budget your purchase by making use of the deals and discounts. If you are determined to buy a particular brand then save money by investing in larger tubs. Ensure the expiry date before making the purchase.
How do I decide on the right protein supplement?
You ascertain your fitness goals and the particular need for the protein powder. For weight loss buy protein powders high in protein and low on calories and carbs. For weight gain, you will need high calories and high protein along with carbs and lipids.
Is a protein powder necessary for everyone?
If you are getting the required protein intake from food sources, then you do not need protein supplements. But athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts who undergo strenuous physical activity need higher protein intake and will need the protein powder along with their diet.
What is the recommended intake of protein?
The recommended dosage is 25 to 30 grams of protein. Follow the dosage recommendations mentioned on the label. Higher dosages of protein may be harmful.
Can protein shakes replace meals?
If you do not have time for meal preparation and need protein throughout the day, you can consume protein powders which are particularly for meal replacements. They will be packed with the required nutrients.
Do protein shakes or powders cause side effects?
If the protein powder or shake contains high calories and added sugars, it may cause a weight gain or a spike in your sugar levels. Make sure to choose the right protein supplement.