Protein powder is more popular than ever in the health and fitness world but for us common folk, what does it actually do? And how much do you actually need? Well, after reading this you will become a protein expert and learn about how it can help you manage weight and hunger as well as support training.
First of all we are going to start off with the importance of protein before talking about specific protein powders that may be suitable for you and your lifestyle.
What is Protein?
Protein is a compound made up of different types of amino acids. If you recall highschool health, you may remember the phrase, “amino acids are the building blocks of cells”. Our bodies create some amino acids by itself, however there are 9 essential amino acids (EAA) which we can get from certain foods.
Typical foods such as meat, eggs and dairy, contain all 9 EAA. Plant based foods like legumes, pulses and even broccoli also contain amino acids but in varying amounts.
Protein also plays a crucial role in building muscle mass, maintaining energy levels, supporting immune health and is also great for weight loss and maintenance. Having protein in your diet helps switch off that feeling of hunger soon after eating and helps manage your ‘hanger’ levels throughout the day.
Why protein is important for exercise
When you exercise, your body goes through what we call muscle protein breakdown (MPB) and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). To put it simply, our muscles tear, breakdown and then build back up again. In training this helps our muscles become bigger and stronger. For this to happen at it’s very best, you need to ensure you have adequate protein intake.
There are 3 EAA which have been shown to maximise muscle protein synthesis and improve recovery. These are known as branched chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine, isoleucine and valine.
If you do not have a well balanced protein intake you may experience muscle wasting and become more prone to illness.
How much protein should I eat?
As we are all made individually and have specific nutritional needs, it is important that before changing your diet you speak to either a nutritionist or dietitian. However, as a nutritionist I am able to provide a general guide that I recommend to some of my clients and friends:
- Post Exercise (within 1 hour): 20-25g protein
- Meals: 20-40g
- Snacks: 5-10g
These amounts will help you recover optimally post training and support weight loss and maintenance goals when combined with low GI carbohydrates and appropriate amounts of good fats.
Some people may find it hard to eat a large meal high in protein post-exercise or struggle to eat enough throughout the day. This is why protein powders are such a great alternative and can really help you get exactly what your body needs quick and easy.
Protein powders are a fantastic product for those who are active or who struggle to meet their daily protein requirements.
The beauty of protein powders is that they are so convenient because they can be added to almost anything, from smoothies to cookies or even pancakes to boost your protein consumption!
What is Pea Protein?
Pea protein is a vegan powder made from dried field peas which are rich in plant-based protein and we are not talking about the sweet green variety 😉 These peas are either green or yellow and are often used in soups – also known as split peas. The pea’s used in Hummingbird’s Vegan Protein Powder are actually planted and grown in canada. The peas are dried and crushed into a substance which is similar to flour. This ‘flour’ is then further refined to remove the pea starch and fibre to create a true protein source.
Pea protein contains all 9 EAA however is low in one called methionine. Too balance this out you can add foods like oats and brown rice.
What is Whey Protein Isolate?
WPI is made from liquid whey which is formed during the cheesemaking process. The whey protein is then purified and separated where most of the carbohydrates and fat are removed, to create one of three types of protein powders of varying quality: whey isolate, whey concentrate and whey hydrolysate
Whey Isolate contains a higher amount of protein, with protein concentrations of 90% or higher. Like all animal proteins WPI contains all 9 essential amino acids (EAA). WPI is particularly rich in BCAAs. WPI is also lactose free so perfect for those with lactose intolerance!
Compared to other protein powders, WPI can be absorbed very quickly which really helps fast track that muscle repair.
What is the difference?
The main difference between these two powders is that one is vegan and one is not.
Both of these contain three important BCAAs for muscle maintenance. Leucine has been shown to have a positive effect in maximising post-workout adaptations and helping build muscle all on its own. Whey contains leucine in only slightly larger amounts compared to pea protein.
While you can meet your daily protein requirements with wholefoods, not everyone has the time or the appetite to prepare and consume protein rich meals. This is where protein powders can be beneficial for managing weight and supporting an active body.
If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me on @lanaeatingpositive or firstname.lastname@example.org