If you are someone who loves hitting the gym, you would know that people are crazy about protein powders and rightly so.
They are a quick way to ensure your body is nourished and satisfied. Dolly Kumar, Founder of Gaia says that people use them for a variety of reasons such as to “induce weight loss, improve sports performance, build muscle mass, and for general wellness”.
While there are numerous brands and variations for protein powders in the market, how do you buy the right one for yourself which fits all your requirements and meets your personal health goals?
“It’s important to know the difference between available protein powders as well as how they stack up against whole food protein sources,” says Kumar, adding that one needs to remember that body’s daily protein requirements cannot be met by drinking protein-rich shakes or eating whole foods, as they “don’t offer as much nutrition as protein powders do”.
She lists out two kinds of protein that will come to your rescue.
“Whey is one of the most commonly-used proteins and is best for daily consumption since it contains the required amounts of essential amino acids which are digestible and absorbable,” Kumar explains.
Whey also helps restore age-related muscle loss, boosts energy and reduces stress levels. Not only that, it is also the best type of protein for accelerating post-workout muscle recovery, which is the reason why it’s so popular among fitness enthusiasts.
Soy protein is a complete source of protein. It also helps in building muscle mass. “Overall, soy is safe for most people and may offer health benefits, including weight loss,” Kumar says.
How to get the right protein powder as per your needs?
If you are looking to lose weight, “choose shakes with no added sugars or maltodextrins which are sweeteners made from starch”, suggests Kumar. Remember, in order to keep your weight in check, it’s best to consume a steady supply of protein at each meal and snack to help keep you fuller for longer. But, if you are looking to build muscle, then choose a protein powder with a high biological value. This value measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein. “Whey protein and whey isolates are your best options.”
If you are someone who is vegetarian or vegan opt for 100 per cent plant proteins, such as soy combined with pea, or hemp rather than milk-based protein shakes (like whey, milk proteins).
Likewise, in order to avoid gastrointestinal problems like for patients with irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance, choose powders that don’t contain lactose sugars, artificial sweeteners or maltodextrins. “If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, don’t choose powders that contain the same,” Kumar says.
Lastly, if your nutrition is holistic, “try looking for a rich blend of whey and soy”.
How to get the most out of your protein powder
Kumar suggests if you are someone who leads an active lifestyle, you should consume protein within 60 minutes of a workout. “That’s when your muscles are most responsive to the use of protein for repair and regrowth. Although there’s no magic number for how much protein to consume at one time, it’s best to aim for at least 3 ounces or 20 grams of protein per meal,” she says.
Each protein powder has a unique taste, depending on the ingredients and protein source. “No matter how much the urge, always go with the low-sugar or no-sugar variants,” Kumar concludes.