The benefits of protein powders, and whether you should take them

The benefits of protein powders, and whether you should take them

Protein is an important component of every cell in your body. Your body requires protein to both build and repair tissues and proteins are key building blocks not only of muscles, but also bones, cartilage, skin, blood, hormones and numerous other chemicals in the body. Protein is a “macronutrient” meaning your body requires relatively large quantities of it. Fats and carbohydrates are also macronutrients, but unlike these the body is unable to store protein. This means you need to constantly supply your body with enough proteins for it to function well.

There’s a common myth that consuming protein will build muscle, but that is not true and in fact the only way to build muscle is with exercise.  If you are exercising though, protein helps you build muscle giving that toned appearance and also boosting your metabolism which can help you to slim down. Protein powders can be a great way to boost your protein intake and a typical protein shake contains around 25g of protein which is the equivalent of roughly 4 eggs or a small chicken breast. Whey, casein and milk-based protein powders are made from milk with the carbohydrates and fats removed meaning you can boost your protein intake without taking on the extra fats and carbohydrates you’d have by drinking milk. 

You’ll probably see the following when you’re looking at protein powders:

  • Whey protein, the most common protein used in protein powders is absorbed by the body readily, making it great for right after a workout. 
  • Casein is slowly absorbed and it is rich in glutamine, an amino acid which benefits post-workout recovery.  Because its more slowly absorbed, casein is great before bed so your body is fed with protein throughout the night.
  • Soy is a great plant-based alternative for those who are vegetarian or vegan as it still contains all of the essential amino acids.

Protein powders are therefore clearly beneficial to increase protein intake quickly and relatively cheaply. It should be noted that while many people make the mistake of substituting protein powders for real food (chicken, fish, eggs), you should only take protein powders to supplement your existing diet. 

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