Its Importance and How to Choose the Right One for You
Commonly cited for its pro muscle-building properties, protein is, inarguably, the most widely used supplement in the health and fitness industry today—and for good reason! However, as ubiquitous as protein supplements are, confusion remains as to what constitutes a “good” protein powder vs. a “bad” one. So, without getting too technical, let’s assume we’re all aware of the benefits of protein. We know it’s instrumental in the building of lean muscle, required for nearly every bodily process, and an important component in every single cell in the body. Protein can even help manage your weight, stabilize blood sugar levels, and reduce the effects of aging. But, you already knew that.
What you may not know, however, is that every single one of us needs a certain amount of protein every single day—no, not just to pack on additional lean muscle mass but, even to maintain the muscle we already have. So, what does that mean? It means that if we want to look the way we want to look, and feel the way we want to feel—both of which are merely byproducts of being healthy(!)—we simply cannot afford to neglect this vital macronutrient.
For a lot of us, it’s difficult to consume enough protein from food alone. With hectic schedules and long days in the office, eating often becomes a secondary concern—much less eating for optimal health. So, what can we do? Well, the easy answer—in addition to packing to healthy, nutrient-dense foods—is to incorporate a quality protein supplement into our daily regimen. But, which one?
- Whey: Derived from cow’s milk, anyone with a dairy sensitivity may want to avoid this protein. If you are able to digest whey protein, you’ll want to make sure it’s from organic, grass-fed cows.
- Plant-Based: Sourced from plants like rice, pea, sacha inchi, and hemp, this is a great protein alternative for vegans, vegetarians, and those who can’t properly digest whey protein. However, if you’re going to take a plant-based protein supplement, make sure it’s organic! You don’t want to be exposed to any potentially harmful chemicals, pesticides, etc.
*Note: The vast majority of plant-based proteins, even while boasting a complete amino acid profile, may not contain them in large enough doses to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Because of this, it may be a good idea to begin taking a quality BCAA supplement, as well, especially after working out.
There are plenty of other types of protein powders: beef (my personal favorite), egg, cricket, isolates, etc., but most of us will fall into one of the two above-mentioned categories.
The Bottom Line: No matter what protein powder you choose, make sure it’s from a quality source and does NOT cause any GI distress (constipation, bloating, indigestion, etc.). Oftentimes, excipients (see: “Other Ingredients”) added to protein powders can be troublesome and produce a negative reaction. Things like artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, sugar alcohols, preservatives, and dyes can lead to a laundry list of health issues, both in the short and long term.
Common Ingredients to Watch Out For In Protein Powders
- Acesulfame Potassium
- Yellow, Red, Blue, etc Dyes
- Sodium Benzoate
- Lecithin (Soy)
- Vegetable Oils (canola, sunflower, etc.)
- Titanium Dioxide
- Artificial Flavors
- Natural Flavors (clarify from where these are sourced)
We have a saying here at Live Clean: “You can’t maintain, nor sustain, weight loss without being healthy first.”
No matter your goal, be it weight loss, bodybuilding, or otherwise, never forget that you have the ability to take control of your own health—and that it’s directly correlated with what you decide to use as fuel. The body is amazing. Fuel your body properly, put it in a position to succeed and, more often than not, it will!
Yours in Health,
Doug Ferner Jr.