The supplement industry is worth 92 billion dollars with a compound growth rate of almost 25% each year. The divergence of target audiences against the traditional audience of male bodybuilders allows for more products to be formulated and marketed, attracting a wide array of consumers from recreational athletes to serious bodybuilders.

However, the more money there is to be made, the more the companies do to try and market their product with heavily exaggerated claims. This begins to blur the line between supplements that are really worth your money versus supplements that only make your wallet lighter – but not you. This article is aimed at helping you determine if protein supplements are right for you or not.

Protein Powder

Although synonymous with fitness, protein is key towards our body’s proper health. Ensuring proper hormone regulation and cellular growth, protein powder should be taken if one has a hard time of fitting protein into their daily nutritional requirements. Although the need for an athlete or bodybuilder to consume vast amounts of protein sounds logical, they can get away with about 0.8 g of protein per pound of body weight. For example, a 170 lb weightlifter would need about 136 g of protein a day, roughly a little more than 4 and a half scoops of protein powder. So as you can see, copious amounts of protein isn’t usually required, even for athletes. As well, it is important to keep in mind that there are a number of misconceptions surrounding protein powders; such as the over-bearing importance on the timing, the fact that we can only absorb 30g of protein a meal, and possibility of decreased kidney function due to excess protein found in the bloodstream – although this generally only happens to people already suffering from pre-existing kidney conditions.

The Good

Protein Powder is convenient. For those students or workers who are short on time, a scoop or two should satiate your hunger as a snack, as well as allowing you to hit your daily requirements for protein with ease. Although protein is typically mixed with water and consumed in this fashion, there are plenty of recipes which incorporate protein powder. A recipe for peanut butter marshmallow bars can be found here. Furthermore, if sufficient protein is consumed within a day, an athlete can recover faster as well as perform better during their next session. Be sure not to diminish your returns by purposefully taking too much protein, as you may end up spending much more on the supplement than actually required. If you know that you aren’t getting enough protein through food, protein powder would be a viable supplement for you.

The Bad

Most bodybuilders pound down shake after shake, ignoring the fact that too much isn’t needed. At around a dollar a serving, protein powder in isolate form isn’t cheap. Another aspect to watch for is misinformation on the labels. As protein content is measured with nitrogen content, many supplement companies are including amino acids such as taurine (which are high in nitrogen) to claim that there is more protein in the product than there actually is. Another nitrogen-heavy amino acid used is lysine, a non-essential amino acid. A protein powder may claim they have 25g of protein, but in reality they may have only 18g due to said fillers. Although these amino acid fillers do not cause any harm to the consumer, they allow the company to mislabel their protein content and gain further profits.

What kind should I buy?

The most popular protein supplements include concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. Concentrate is usually about 80% whey protein, and the rest of the content is usually made up of carbs and fats. Isolate is at least 90% protein, with carbs and fats again making up the rest. Hydrolysate, on the other hand, is created when concentrate or isolate are exposed to heat, acids, or enzymes to break the bonds between amino acids, allowing faster absorption. All protein powders usually have great bio-availability with a complete amino acid profile, meaning they have all the essential amino acids. However, if you are lactose intolerant, buying isolate would be the best bang for your buck as hydrolysate is expensive compared to the latter.

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