In this post, I’ll share about the topic today that is super interesting for me personally – protein powder. In particular, I’ll cover the pros and cons of protein powder, and how it is made.
In most cases, protein powder is associated with bodybuilders and athletes, and if you are none of them, there is a high chance you have never even considered adding protein powder to your diet.
The most common type of protein powder sold is whey protein (non-vegan).
It is made from the milky liquid that is left after making cheese and is then processed either by naturally drying or spray drying.
Depending on the process, different forms of Whey Protein are produced.
There are 4 main forms of Whey Protein:
Each of these types has slightly different properties, e.g. isolates are processed to remove fat and lactose and hydrolysate whey proteins are pre-digested and partially hydrolyzed, meaning that they are a lot easier to digest.
To describe it in a very simple way, processed plants are mixed with water letting the proteins dissolve. Then, using the spray drying process, proteins are isolated and fat is removed.
This is how an isolate plant protein powder is made ready for consumption.
It’s worth noting though, that most of the soy produced in the United States is genetically modified and hence soy protein has caused some controversy in the last years.
Some studies suggested that soy protein might decrease testosterone and increase estrogen hormone levels in males.
But there is always more to the story, so I really encourage you to do your own research about soy before consuming products you are not sure about as we can’t possibly cover all aspects of the topic and I am neither a nutritionist nor dietician nor I pretend to be one.
* My wife, who only takes vegan protein, prefers soy-free vegan powders, see more about her favorite recipes later in this article.
Protein cells include a number of amino acids that are the essential building blocks of muscles and the more protein you consume, the more muscle mass you gain over time.
There are, however, limitation on how much protein our bodies can absorb in one go.
There are various studies made that confirmed the fact that our bodies can take up max 20-40g of protein within the 3-4h, hence stuffing your protein shake with extra powder won’t do much for your muscle growth.
Another potential benefit is a fat loss.
There are studies made that showed obese subjects, who drank high-protein meal replacements as part of a low-calorie diet and lost more weight in a year than subjects who followed the diet without the replacements.
Shakes typically contain fewer calories than full meals, and according to researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, protein is the most satiating nutrient, meaning it can keep you fuller for longer periods of time compared to carbs or fats.
That is also a reason why using protein powder as a supplement can be a great way to boost your protein intake while keeping calorie intake low.
And while you can get all the protein you need by simply eating protein-rich meals, this would usually mean eating increased amounts of meat, dairy, and nuts.
All of this, unfortunately, comes with extra fat, carbs and as a result, more calories.
Too much protein – starting at about 35% of daily calories – can lead to health issues such as nausea, cramps, fatigue, headaches and bloating.
Some experts think it can cause kidneys to have to work harder, leading to complications for those with existing kidney problems, or increase calcium excretion, causing bone loss.
Dehydration is also a risk for those consuming a lot of protein. However, as mentioned earlier, most side-effects come from consuming above the recommended rate of the protein.
Another thing to make sure is to use protein powder as a supplement and not a meal replacement and to keep consuming protein-rich meals that include all necessary micronutrients and fibers needed for a healthy functioning body.
However, you can make a meal (e.g. a smoothie bowl) with protein powder as one of the ingredients. Add foods to enrich it with some healthy fats and fiber, it could even serve as an excellent breakfast alternative or a mid-day snack/post-workout recovery!
Now when we have looked at the pros and cons of protein powder, here are our tips on choosing protein powder. We are extremely careful about two things: ingredients and nutritional value.
In particular, we look for these things:
The protein brands we use at home and can highly recommend:
Nutritional value: ~354 kcal, 33g of protein, 9g of fat, 41g of carbs (9g of dietary fiber).
Nutritional value: ~307 kcal, 22.5g of protein, 7.5g of fat, 47g of carbs (13.5g of dietary fiber).
Nutritional value: ~173 kcal, 23g of protein, 3g of fat, 13g of carbs thereof 7g of dietary fiber.
Alright, folks, that’s all about pros and cons of protein powder, delicious protein smoothie recipes and how to choose protein powder. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and a short podcast episode.
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