What are the benefits of protein powders?
Protein is a highly valued nutrient by all athlete’s due to its vital role in muscle growth and repair. When working out muscles become under pressure, with the addition of protein in the diet it can help the muscles repair and recover faster (protein can be consumed in either food or powder/supplement form). Protein powder has the ability to benefit overall health and boost athletic performance. Protein absorbed from protein-rich food can be just as effective for muscle recovery. However, protein powder can be very convenient for busy people on the go, as all that’s required is to mix the powder with milk or water to create a shake.
Disadvantages of protein powder?
In comparison to a meal, protein powders are less balanced. Despite it being a good source of protein it lacks in other nutrients (such as carbohydrates and fat) and antioxidants which could be obtained through protein-rich food sources. If protein shakes regularly become a meal replacement, nutrient deficiencies may develop as your body is missing out on nutrients derived from a range of food sources.
Or simply if you don't agree with protein powders and want to get your optimal protein through food.
Alternatively, make a nut + seed mix like the one below, and snack on this before or after your workout or when you get hungry.
What are some different types of protein powder?
There is a large variety of protein powders to choose from which can be rather confusing when buying for the first time. Ethical reasons and dietary restrictions can limit what type of protein you can consume. Some common protein powders are:
This is a very popular form of milk based protein which is packed full of all essential amino acids (making it a ‘complete protein’). Benefits of whey include, improved muscle protein synthesis, increased lean muscle mass, promotes fat loss and provides many health benefits. Whey is commonly used due to the body being able to easily and quickly absorb it.
Soy protein is a vegan, vegetarian and lactose intolerant friendly protein formed from refined soy beans which are notably high in proteins. Soy also increases muscle recovery and growth as-well as being naturally packed full of vitamins and minerals which provide benefits to the body. Some claims have been made against soy protein such as it has been found to cause increases in estrogen levels, decreases in testosterone and disruption to hormone levels as a result of high isoflavone content, therefore isn't recommended for males. However, in spite of these claims soy is a very popular and effective plant-based protein to consume in moderation.
Much like soy protein, pea protein is plant-based. Pea protein is sourced from yellow peas due to their high content of protein, amino acids and other nutrients. However, pea protein fails to supply all nine essential amino acids (only providing seven) that the body requires. Therefore, the extra two amino acids must be sourced elsewhere from other food sources. Pea protein is ideal for increasing lean muscle mass and boosting protein intake. Pea protein opposed to other proteins is slow digesting. Therefore, pea protein wouldn’t be favoured for post workout. However, it is recommended to consume prior to bed time or during long periods without eating. In doing so it will provide your body with amino acids and proteins to replenish muscles.
We recommend this brand
This is yet another plant-based protein which is obtain from processing hemp seeds into powder form. Hemp protein is a complete protein, providing all 20 amino acids used within the human body, including the nine essential amino acids. It also contains a large variety of nutrients that contribute to improving your immune system, bettering circulation, metabolism and increasing energy levels . Thus, hemp protein is excellent for muscle repair and growth alongside health and well-being. Hemp is our favoured source of protein as we feel it is the most whole, minimally processed, nutrient dense source.
We recommend this brand
When and how should I take it?
When having protein powder, it is important to consume it at appropriate times to obtain the benefits. For protein to be most effective, it should be consumed either:
- Immediately after a workout for muscle recovery and growth.
- 30 minutes before a workout to reduce the amount of damage to your muscles while you train. Also with the addition of some form of carbohydrate such as banana, it can provide you with extra energy for your workout.
- Protein can be taken in the morning for a breakfast option as a way for you to consume essential nutrients.
- Before bed, to help restore your body of nutrients, proteins and amino acids overnight.
Protein doesn’t have to be taken solely as a shake it can be a great addition to pancakes, cookies, oats, etc.. to boost protein content.
Heres a recipe for Protein Balls from our Sports Nutrition Workshop...
Here we've used hemp protein, almonds + cashews as our sources of plant-based protein.
12 medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup hemp protein, we use this brand
¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped
¼ cup cashews, roughly chopped
¼ cup cacao powder
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup dried fruit of your choice (figs, goji berries, raisins)
¼ cup coconut
chia seeds (optional)
bee pollen (optional)
Add all ingredients apart from the chia seeds and bee pollen to a food processor and process until well combined. Roll into balls and dip in chia seeds and bee pollen or alternatively, line a baking tin with baking paper and firmly press mixture into the tin and ensure the top is smooth and even.
Place them in the freezer to set. Cut into bars if not rolling into balls. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.
Learn more about plant-based proteins in our Sports Nutrition + Elite Sports Nutrition workshops.
click here to book.
Written by Macaela Turfus