Regardless of whether we want to lose weight, build muscle or just stay fit and healthy, we are all looking for the best way to achieve our fitness goals. Yes, working out regularly and staying hydrated is important but you should not forget about your diet. Carbs, fats and protein are all important in order to have the energy for the workout and to help with our recovery process.
However, sometimes, we do not have the time to prepare healthy meals due to our busy schedules. That is where protein shakes step in. Take a look.
What are the benefits of protein?
There are many reasons why protein is good for you. It takes more energy to process protein than carbs and that means that you burn more calories just by eating. Another good thing is that it makes you feel fuller after eating. You are therefore less likely to grab a snack later during the day. Moreover, protein helps build and repair your muscles.
Where to get protein?
Protein is found in many types of food. You can go for eggs, turkey, beef and chicken, salmon and tuna. Nuts and seeds, cottage cheese and natural yogurt are all high-protein snacks. Avocado, beans, legumes, quinoa are also great if you are a vegetarian. However, as we already mentioned, if you are a busy person with barely any time for meal-prep, you can always opt for supplements, like protein powder.
How does protein powder work?
Providing your body with protein after a workout is essential for healing the small tears in the muscle tissue which are caused by the contraction of the muscles. Protein from solid foods takes more time to break down which is why a protein shake is a great alternative since it takes only about 30 minutes to reach your muscles.
Protein powders provide plenty of nutrition and are mostly free of carbs and fat, which means that you can increase only your protein intake in order to boost your performance, tone your body and improve overall health. For the best results, it’s good to find a shake that contains some carbs; you can also blend it with a banana or other carb-rich snacks. Experts claim that a 4:1 ratio of carbs and protein is the best way to recover faster.
Types of protein powder
Protein powders come in three different forms. Protein concentrates are produced by extracting protein from whole food and they contain about 60-80% of protein while the rest is fats and carbs. Protein isolates go through an additional filtering process and contain about 90-95% of protein. In protein hydrolysates, the bonds between amino acids are broken and your body can absorb them faster.
The most common type of powder is whey protein powder. It comes from milk, and therefore the concentrate contains lactose. If you are lactose-intolerant, you can go for protein isolate. It is very quickly absorbed by the body. For the best results, you can mix it with maltodextrin powder which supplies your body with energy and is one of the fastest digesting carbohydrate sources.
However, there are many other types as well. For instance, casein protein is the slowest digesting protein powder which makes it ideal for drinking before bed. Soy, pea and hemp proteins are all great alternatives for vegans and vegetarians that contain all essential amino acids. When it comes to egg protein, it provides you with adequate amounts of the nine essential amino acids.
When to take it?
You can have a protein shake in the morning as that is a great way to provide your body with nutrients after eight hours of sleep. Protein powder can be used in things other than shakes, such as cereals, pancakes and cookies.
It’s also good to take a shake 30 minutes before a workout as it can lower the damage to your muscles. Moreover, adding a banana can give you extra energy.
The most important time to intake protein is immediately after working out. As we already mentioned, this lets your muscles recover and grow. You can also have small meals that are high in protein. If you avoid protein post-workout, you might feel fatigue and soreness.
Before you go to bed, it is crucial to have a shake or some slow burning protein, like cottage cheese. Your body will slowly use this protein to heal and repair your muscles while you’re asleep. It also helps with maintaining a healthy metabolism and weight.
How much protein to intake?
The necessary amount of protein depends on several factors, but the minimum for adults is 0.37 grams per pound of body weight. Some people, like athletes and pregnant women, need more. You can easily find out how many grams of protein each food contains. Too much protein is usually not a bad thing, but you should supplement your diet with magnesium and calcium since protein can deplete their levels.
Protein shakes are not a replacement for a healthy diet. While they are very beneficial to your workout, don’t forget about solid foods as well. If you have any concerns, you should consult your doctor or nutritionist.