No matter what type of diet you practice, most would agree that a balance and variety of foods is key to overall health. Many clients come to us eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein. Not that protein is more important than carbohydrates, or fat for that matter, but if you lack quality protein, you’ll have a hard time maintaining healthy body composition. Protein is essential for preserving and building muscle and its consumption helps reduce hunger while stabilizing blood sugar levels – all of which help you burn fat while supporting overall health.
We always preach the importance of building your diet on a foundation of natural and wholesome foods, especially protein dense foods such as beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. Additionally, having an alternative option like a protein powder is a great option for a pre and post-workout shake as well as convenient snack options.
So how much protein do you really need? The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that those individuals who are strength training regularly need 0.5 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. You may need more or less depending on your body composition and individual goals, but this is a good rule of thumb.
We recommend the following protein powder supplements if you aren’t getting enough protein from whole foods.
Whey Protein Powder. Whey is a type of protein derived from milk. It contains all the essential amino acids our body must obtain from food so it’s a top choice of many athletes or those wanting to maintain and build muscle. Whey should be avoided by those with lactose issues or those who may have an intolerance to dairy products.
Egg Protein Powder. Egg protein is generally a powdered version of egg whites. It contains all the essential amino acids and many vitamins and minerals so it’s also a great source for muscle-building proteins. Egg protein is lactose free so it may be a good option for individuals who can’t do whey protein.
Collagen Protein Powder. Collagen protein powder is made from the connective tissue, skin, and bones of animals. It might not sound appealing but collagen is similar to gelatin used for cooking and it contains a substantial amount of protein. Collagen has a slightly different amino acid profile than whey or egg, but it can still help repair and build muscle, while supporting bones and connective tissue. A good quality collagen supplement may be an option for someone with both dairy and egg allergies.
Plant-based Protein Powders. Vegetarians as well as those wanting to get more plants in their diet may benefit from a plant-based protein supplement. A combination of rice, pea, and hemp protein will give you a dose of all the essential amino acids and adds the benefit of phytonutrients as well.
With any supplement, it’s important to understand that its safety and efficacy will be dependent on the ingredients. Is the source grass-fed or raised on factory farms? Are the animals treated with hormones or antibiotics? Were chemical pesticides and artificial sweeteners used? Was the protein powder heated during processing or chemically treated? These are all important questions that should be answered before you make your purchase.
So ensure a balanced diet by eating quality protein and supplementing when needed.
Try the following shake as a healthy snack option:
Combine in a blender:
1-2 handfuls of fresh spinach
½ frozen banana
1/4 cup frozen berries
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
A few ice cubes
Add water until desired consistency is met