Protein Powder. How do you know which protein you need for recovery? If your protein powder is only a whey protein is that good enough?
I’m going to share my thoughts on protein powders. The different types of protein and why I choose to drink the protein powder that I use.
Why do we need protein?
First, why do we need protein? Protein helps build muscles. Having strong muscles is not only for athletes and body builders. As we age we lose muscle mass (medically known as sarcopenia). So protein is important for everyone. I’ve even heard that proteins are ‘the building blocks of life’. Every cell in the human body contains protein. They are important for repair and maintenance, to maintain fluid balance, to make antibodies, even to transport iron and oxygen to every cell. Hemoglobin is a protein. Oxygen binds to it and is transported through blood.
So we see that protein is not only for our muscles.
What are proteins?
What are proteins? Proteins are made up of small units called amino acids. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. There are many different amino acids in protein, but 22 of them are very important to human health.
Of those 22 amino acids, our body can make 13 of them. Our body can’t make the other nine amino acids, but you can get them by eating protein-rich foods. These are called essential amino acids because it’s essential that you get them from the foods you eat. Protein is a macronutrient. It is commonly found in animal products, though is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes. Protein from animal sources, such as meat and milk, are called complete proteins, because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids.
Vegetarians or vegans will want to ensure that they pair their foods so that they get complete proteins. Such as, peanut butter on whole-grain bread or red beans and rice.
Getting protein from food is the optimal choice but because it it usually takes more time to prepare and the downside to red meat is it also provides significant amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.
So, occassionally, you may choose to get protein from protein powders.
Protein powders are more than a tasty shake. There is a lot of research that goes into the high quality protein powders. In addition to the science of protein absorption there is also the question of safety.
The Journal of Nutrition wrote an excellent article ‘Quality Assurance Issues in the Use of Dietary Supplements, with Special Reference to Protein Supplements’. You can read the entire article here, but basically what I got out of the article is MAKE SURE that your protein powder is being tested by a ‘third party‘.
Protein Absorption Rates
Casein Protein is found in milk and is digested and absorbed slowly. Casein forms a gel when it interacts with stomach acid, slowing down stomach emptying and delaying the absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream.
Plant proteins such as soy, hemp seed protein, buckwheat, millet, beans, etc., spirulina and blue green algae, rice protein or pea protein are beneficial for providing protein and are an intermediate rate for absorption.
Whey protein also from milk. During cheese-making, it is the liquid that separates from the curds. It’s high in protein, but also contains lactose, a milk sugar that some people have difficulty digesting. (Lactose sensitive) For absorption whey proteins are Intermediate fast.
Hydrolysates and Peptides absorb fast while Free Amino Acids absorb very fast.
So, if my protein powder is only a whey protein and my muscles recover fast the whey may not be available or if my muscles recover slow the whey may not be available. So I prefer to use protein powders that are a blend of proteins because I don’t know exactly when my muscles will want to recover.
These are my favorite protein powders. The difference is the Post Workout Recovery has added carbs. I use this recovery powder when my workout is longer than an hour and I’ve tapped into my glycogen stores. The Muscle Gain is without added carbs, one serving is 25 grams of protein. Both of these protein powders use a blend of proteins and this brand does use third party testing so I’m assusred there is not added heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic and so on).
My Top 5 Must Have when Choosing a Protein Powder:
Safety; free of banned substances and free of heavy metals
Blended protein; because I don’t know when my muscles will be ready to recover.
Easily digestible; must be a high quality protein (I’m not into the cheap protein powders that use chicken beaks, duck feathers
or human hair)
Label Compliant; the only ingredients I want in my body is what is on the label, AND I need to be assured that what’s on the label is what’s in the protein powder, this can be guaranteed with a third party testing it.
Tastes good mixed only with water.
In addition to protein shakes I also use this protein powder in recipes like pancakes and mug cakes… Kinda seems like I like cakes.
To your Health!