Chances are, if you’ve ever set foot in a gym, you’ve heard someone talk about protein supplementation. So what are protein supplements and what are they used for?
Protein supplements often come in powder form (to be made into a protein shake) or as protein bars. Although some protein bars can be a great alternative to a chocolate bar as a snack, they are often high in fat and sugar. Make sure you read the nutritional information on the packet. Various protein powders are available and most often made from whey, soy, casein (the slow digesting protein found in milk), or a combination of these. Whey protein is divided into three main categories:
Whey protein isolate (WPI) is processed to reduces lactose and fat content. This type of protein is fast absorbing and ideal to consume post workout.
Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is more slowly digested than WPI and is best used as a snack or meal replacement when needed.
Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) is pre-digested and very quickly absorbed.
WPI and WPH are considered higher quality and are usually more expensive than WPC.
Protein supplements are used to increase protein intake within the diet. Protein is an essential component of a balanced, healthy diet and assists in muscle growth and repair. It is generally accepted that an adult requires between 0.8g and 1.8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, each day; the exact amount depending on the individuals level of physical activity.
While protein supplements can be a great tool for those who find it difficult to consume enough protein in their regular diet, it is important to note that a healthy, well-rounded diet featuring lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meat, low fat dairy and some healthy fats is the best way to ensure you are getting enough nutrients. If you do decide to use protein supplements, they can be very convenient and are often quite tasty! I add half a scoop of vanilla protein to my oats each morning to increase my protein intake and add sweetness without sugar. YUM 🙂