How do you pick a protein supplement and why do you need one?
It’s generally recommended that you get approx 1g of protein for every kg of bodyweight, assuming you are not looking to build muscle. There are many reasons why today many of us fail to do this. Busy lifestyles, cheap food, snacking on the go, or choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, are all factors that can make it difficult to get enough protein.
We often replace protein rich foods with carbohydrate laden snacks and this leads to weight gain. However getting the correct amount of protein can lead to 4 key benefits:
- Reduced hunger and weight loss as Protein is a particularly satiating nutrient. Australian researchers had 28 obese men consume four different drinks. Those who consumed the beverage containing 50 grams of whey had significantly reduced levels of ghrelin (a hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry) up to four hours later.
- Increased strength.
- An improved immune system: University of Alberta researchers found that subjects involved in strenuous aerobic activity suffered from significantly reduced glutathione levels, that could impact on such things as the nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. However, they also discovered that by supplementing with protein, the subjects experienced a significantly lesser reduction in glutathione levels.
- Increased joy and lack of stress: Protein positively affects brain serotonin aka the happy chemical.
How can you tell if you are getting enough protein?
- Are you craving more sweets? One of the first signs you’re low on protein: You start craving sweets and feel like you’re never quite full
- Brain fog? Balanced blood sugar is essential for staying focused. So when you’re protein-deprived and your glucose levels are fluctuating constantly you may feel like you can’t focus your thoughts and that your brain is well.. foggy.
- Losing hair? In extreme cases of protein deficiency, which aren’t as rare as you think … your hair follicles themselves become weaker, then shrink and literally let go of the hair.
- Feel weak? Has your bag got heavier? Or have you got weaker? Being unable to to carry out tasks that you found manageable before, is another sign of protein deficiency
- Getting sick more frequently? Protein reinforces the immune system. Catching the sniffles every time you leave the house? … Check your protein intake.
- Constantly getting hangnails? If your skin isn’t strong due to a shortage of protein, you may start to notice cracks and tears (like hangnails), potentially exposing you to pathogens and leading to infections.
What protein should you buy? Concentrate or Isolate?
Isolate: Taking the concentration process a step further, “isolation” removes a much higher percentage of non-protein content. The additional processing yields a premium protein that is up to 95 percent pure.
Whey? Pea? Soy?
Whey: The most popular protein supplement on the market today, whey is a by-product in the process of turning milk into cheese.
Pros: Whey protein has been shown to promote lean muscle growth and fat loss, as well as support cardiovascular health and a healthy metabolism
Cons: The sugar found in milk (lactose) is a common allergen that can make whey indigestible for some. Additionally many whey protein powders are produced with cost saving in mind. Packed full of flavours (read sugars) they are often unhealthy, lead to suagr spikes and weight gain, and further cause digestive upset. They are also not an option for anyone following a vegan diet.
Soy beans are one of the few plant protein sources that offer all of the essential amino acids
Pros: Soy may also help prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers .
Cons: Sourcing Soy Protein can be a problem with many crops being genetically modified. There is also a concern around hormone levels. With some studies stating it can affect oestrogen levels in an unregulated manner.
And the winner is....
Pea Protein. Why’s it yellow? Peas are green? Our pea protein comes from the yellow split pea. As its a pea its perfect for vegans, vegetarians and the lactose intolerant.
Pros: It contains one of the highest percentage protein ratios of all the proteins outside whey. And don’t worry it doesn’t taste like peas. In case you were envisioning mushy peas in your shaker …