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Protein Powder – Fitness Superfood #3

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Protein Powder 101: The muscle building and fat burning supplement

Welcome to day 3 of our 12 day series showcasing the top 12 superfoods to help you with your fitness and nutrition goals.

Lets talk about the many nutrition benefits of supplementing with protein powder.

First off, protein powder is not just for the stereotypical gym rat meat heads.

For the general population, overall protein consumption tends to be lower, while the abundance of quick and convenient refined carbohydrate options tends to be much higher.

Protein powder is a convenient source of protein that has many health benefits for people of all activity levels, ages, and genders.

For convenience, simply take it to the office with you, or on the road, and mix a scoop in a shaker cup for a quick high protein snack.

What is protein?

Calories from food is comprised of the following three macronutrients:

  • protein
  • carbohydrates
  • fat

Protein is comprised of amino acids which are the building blocks for the tissues in the body including, muscle, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

It’s critical in building and maintaining muscle, especially for older people as we tend to lose muscle when we age.

This is important since muscle is the key driver of your metabolism and will keep you looking and feeling younger.

Foods high in protein include:

  • beef
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • fish
  • eggs
  • protein powder
  • dairy

Protein is also found in smaller amounts in nuts, seeds, vegetables, and grains, however the amino acid profile of these foods is not as strong as in animal protein.

What is Protein Powder?

As mentioned earlier, protein powder is a convenient, high quality source of fast acting protein.

It’s derived from various protein sources such as whey, beef, egg, pea, hemp, rice, and soy.

Since protein powder digests faster than whole foods, it makes it an excellent and quick option for mixing with liquids and consuming after a workout.

Drinking a protein shake, especially post-workout, has been shown to help increase strength gains, minimizes muscle breakdown, and initiates the rebuilding and growth of muscle via protein synthesis.

Not only does it promote muscle building, but protein powder is also known to help in fat loss.

It assists in keeping you feeling full, increases insulin sensitivity, and releases a hormone called glucagon.

Glucagon is the antagonist hormone to insulin, thus it helps balance insulin release, blood sugar, and keeps you from entering fat storing mode.

Protein powder can also help reduce stress and inflammation, and help strengthen your immune system to fight off sickness and germs due to the antioxidant glutathione.

How Much Protein Powder Should You Take?:

To be clear, protein powder is considered a supplement, meaning it’s intended to supplement your daily protein intake requirements, not be the primary source.

Nothing replaces the nutrients you get from eating real food.

I typically recommend sticking to 1-2 servings per day.

One serving is optimal post-workout and another serving is optional, if needed, to help you hit your protein goals.

There are various studies showing 25-40 grams is needed post-workout to properly trigger protein synthesis.

Newer people to training can skew on the lower end while more experienced people can go on the higher end.

I typically have 30-40 grams of protein in my post-workout shake.

Start By First Figuring Out Your Daily Protein Goals:

If you’re new, a good starting point is 1g of protein per pound of body weight.

Depending on your goals, this amount will vary, but at the very least, aim to get at the minimum, 0.75g of protein per pound of body weight.

Then consume the rest of your protein from high quality protein sources from food every 4-5 hours throughout the day.

I typically aim for 30-40 grams of protein from food sources per meal.

What Is The Best Type Of Protein Powder?:

Not all protein powder is created the same.

In fact, the supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA, so I always recommend you find a trustworthy company, rather than just buying the cheapest, or most marketed protein powder.

Lets go through a few of the most common types of protein powder:

#1. Whey Protein Powder

From an amino acid profile, whey protein is the best.

It contains large amounts of all the essential amino acids, especially the most important in triggering protein synthesis, leucine.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term essential amino acids, they are the ones that your body can’t naturally produce on it’s own.

This means you must consume them from food and supplementation.

Even though whey is derived from dairy, most high quality whey proteins will have most of the lactose removed.

There Are Three Primary Types Of Whey Protein:

  • Hydrolyzed Whey

This is a very highly digestible protein as it’s been broken down into smaller peptides, therefore it enters the bloodstream very quickly. It tends to be more expensive.

  • Whey Isolate

This is a more pure and higher quality version when compared to a concentrate. Typically it’s comprised of approximately 95% protein and lower in calories from carbohydrates and fat. This tends to be the best deal as it’s a high quality protein that’s affordable. We like this whey isolate.

  • Whey Concentrate

Typically has the least amount of protein per serving (comprised of approximately 70-85% protein) with the rest of the calories coming from carbohydrates and fat. It tends to be the cheapest.

#2. Egg Protein Powder

I personally love egg protein powder and started using an egg based protein from a company called Rootz Nutrition last year.

It’s a high quality source of protein and easily digestible for me.

Since I was taking a whey protein isolate for over 10 years, I found I was starting to build an intolerance for it.

I noticed I was bloating more and getting gas more often.

Once I switched to an egg protein, the bloat and gas pretty much went away.

Although whey protein has a better amino acid profile and is a little cheaper, for now, I’m primarily sticking with egg protein.

You could also supplement with egg whites, however the delicious taste and extra healthy ingredients added to the Rootz Paleo Superfood Powder makes me a happy guy.

Here’s a discount link to pick some up.

Use coupon code: liveleantv

#3. Beef Protein Powder:

Here’s another high quality protein powder from an amino acid profile standpoint, however it does digest slower than whey.

Beef protein powder is typically not an optimal post-workout option as this is when you want to trigger protein synthesis faster.

However, over a longer period of time it does increase protein synthesis as much as whey, making it another decent protein powder option.

#4. Casein Protein Powder:

Casein is another protein source derived from dairy, however in contrast to whey, casein is digested much slower.

This makes casein protein power not an optimal post-workout protein source.

Even though it does have a positive effect on protein synthesis over the long period, it tends to be more expensive as well as causing potential allergic reactions in some people.

#5. Plant Based Protein Powders: Pea, Rice, and Hemp:

For vegans, pea protein powder contains one of the highest amino acid profiles of all plant based powders and can help with muscle and strength gains.

Pea protein also contains a decent amount of branch chained amino acids (BCAAs), in particular, leucine.

These amino acids are the most important for protein synthesis.

Although not optimal due, to the lower amounts of BCAAs, rice protein powder and hemp protein powder are other plant based option.

These are usually combined together with other plant based protein blends.

#6. Soy Protein:

Even though soy is technically a plant, I wanted to keep this separate from the other plant based protein powders.

The reason is simple.

Even though, soy protein has a decent amount of all the essential amino acids, I don’t typically recommend people consume it.

First of all it contains phytoestrogens which, for most people, may negatively alter testosterone and estrogen hormonal balance.

Secondly, soy is also a highly GMO’d and pesticide ridden crop in the US.

Although there are a lot of conflicting studies, I see no benefit in taking it, and prefer to stay away.

What Liquid Should You Mix With Your Protein Powder?

If your goal is weight loss, it’s best to stick with zero calorie liquids like water or unsweetened almond milk.

As long as you’re using a high quality protein powder, it should taste fine with water or almond milk, and some ice.

However, if your goal is muscle building, you can replenish lost glycogen levels, and speed up recovery, by mixing your protein powder with a higher glycemic fruit juice like pineapple or grape juice.

Or simply add a banana or pineapple and some maple syrup or honey to your shake.

Here’s one of my go-to post-workout shake recipes.

What Ingredients Should You Avoid?

As mentioned earlier, the FDA does not regulate the supplement industry, so buyer beware.

Many shady companies add low quality fillers, various sources of sugar, and artificial sweeteners like acesulfame K and sucralose, to make their protein taste like a treat.

I always look for protein powders sweetened naturally with a zero calorie, plant based sweeteners like stevia or xylitol.

Stevia is metabolized by the liver and kidneys, therefore it doesn’t cause an insulin spike like other sweeteners.

So that’s it guys.

Come back tomorrow for fitness superfood #4.

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