Casual gym-goers, elite athletes and bodybuilders alike are contributing to the $4.7 billion protein powder industry. But the question is: should you? Finding the best protein powder – or if protein powder is necessary at all – is dependent on your health conditions, lifestyle and other factors.
Foremost, you don’t need to go overboard on protein to reap the benefits. Chugging protein shakes all day long is a waste. You’ll most likely just gain weight, not muscle. Even worse, dehydration and kidney problems also stem from too much protein, according to Sarah Klein of Huffington Post.
Secondly, it’s likely that you’re already getting you’re recommended amount of protein from your diet alone – especially if you follow a traditional American or Western European diet. According to the aforementioned article, the average male needs 56 grams of protein while women need 46 grams. In fact, men over the age of 20 are exceeding that recommended amount twofold.
But if you and your doctor or trainer believe you would benefit from protein supplements, keep in mind the following:
- A key component to protein powders are the amino acids they do – or don’t – provide. Animal-based protein, like whey and casein, have all nine amino acids. Plant-based proteins are lack one or more amino acids with the exception of soy, which has all nine.
- If you choose to use whey or casein, remember that whey promotes more protein synthesis (think: muscle building) while casein is anti-catabolic (think: muscle maintaining and recovery rather than building).
- Soy protein is a great option for those who want the benefits animal-protein who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Plus, you can buy soy protein concentrate to avoid hormonal interactions if you already eat a lot of soy. There are also soy-free vegan powder blends.
- If you have digestion problems, consider hemp protein. Unlike soy which has trypsin-inhibiting factors, hemp is easily digestible. And don’t worry, it won’t get you high — there’s little to no THC content.
This is just the surface of protein powders. Your best resource is your doctor, nutritionist or trainer. But hopefully these tips help you begin to understand the advantages and disadvantages of certain protein powders.