Many people who participate in exercise training or fitness competitions use dietary supplements. One of the most common supplements used is protein. Protein supplements come in several different forms, like powders and pre-made shakes or ready-to-drink (RTDs). Most of the time, people use these supplements without actually knowing their benefits.
There are many different types of protein powder. The most popular types include soy, whey, and casein. Soy protein is made with soybeans and has added nutrients for taste, texture, and nutritional value. This type of protein has a natural high protein low carbohydrate value. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk naturally contains about 3.5% protein and 4% fat. Enzymes are added to separate casein from whey. Whey protein is fast absorbing, because it is digested rapidly (~20 minutes to be digested, absorbed into the blood, and metabolized). Casein protein is a slow absorbing protein, because it is digested gradually (3-4 hours). Having these different types of protein powder readily available is useful and a great source of high-quality protein.
One reason someone might choose to use protein powder is to help meet his or her protein intake goal. If a person struggles with finding high-quality protein in their day-to-day diet, protein powered is a great alternative. Protein shakes in the morning, when you are in a rush, can make for a quick and easy breakfast. Although protein shakes are convenient, and can be used as a meal replacement, they are not recommended for every meal, as they do not have the same nutrients as whole foods.
For most individuals who exercise and strength train, protein powder is a staple. One benefit of drinking a protein shake after a hard, intense workout is it may lead to faster recovery time. Research shows that post-workout protein intake repairs damaged muscles and tissues. Therefore, drinking protein after a strenuous strength training session may improve short-term recovery and soreness. Additionally, studies show significant enhancement in strength and muscle gain with post-workout protein intake after resistance exercise training. All of which are critical components in meeting strength training goals.
Various research studies on protein have helped provide some interesting results regarding its use. Science has also shown that men and women appear to react the same to protein supplementation. One thing to note, protein supplementation effectiveness is proven to decrease with age. Older adults have higher protein requirements than young adults, which in turn, makes the additional protein intake less effective because the body is already in need of the additional protein. Further, additional studies show that once protein exceeds 1.6g/kg of a person’s body weight, participants did not experience any additional benefits of the supplement.
Protein powder is beneficial for various types of athletes, exercise trained individuals, and people who just need to up their protein intake. Protein, and protein supplements, are available online, in supplement stores, and even the grocery store. Protein supplements are more and more common and easy to find these days. Having a convenient source of high-quality protein available is beneficial to all athletes and their varying needs.