Protein powder is a popular nutritional supplement. Protein is an essential macro nutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and make enzymes and hormones. Using protein powder may also aid weight loss and help people tone their muscles.
There are many different types of protein powder, including dairy-based and plant-based powders. In this article, we discuss some of the health benefits of protein powder and the different types available.
Protein is one of the building blocks of bone, muscle, and skin. The body needs it to produce hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals.
The possible health benefits of protein powders include the following:
Eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements may help people feel fuller for longer. Feeling full tends to result in smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking, which can help a person maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.
A 2017 review reported that supplementing with whey protein might reduce body weight and total fat mass in people who are overweight or obese.
It may also reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
Protein is essential for muscle growth. Many athletes and gym enthusiasts consume protein shakes because they believe that these drinks will help them bulk up after strength training.
A 2018 analysis of 49 studies supports the use of protein supplementation for this purpose. The research suggests that protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance exercise training, such as lifting weights.
Protein supplementation was equally effective in men and women. However, the effectiveness may decrease with age, as older adults have higher protein requirements than younger people.
The researchers also noted that once protein exceeded 1.6 grams (g) per kilogram (kg) of body weight (or 0.73 g per pound (lb) of body weight), the participants did not experience any additional benefits.
As well as contributing to muscle growth, protein can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As a result, athletes may use protein powder to speed up recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.
Many studies report that taking protein supplements after exercise can aid recovery by reducing muscle damage and improving muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis.
The recommended daily intake of protein for people aged 19 years and over is 46 g for women and 56 g for men.
People who find it challenging to meet these amounts, possibly including some vegans and vegetarians, may find that protein powder offers an easy solution to the problem.
Athletes, weight lifters, older adults, and people with a chronic illness may need to exceed the general protein intake recommendation.
Research shows that athletes with an intense training regimen may benefit from having about twice the daily recommended intake of protein, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight. This is equivalent to 111–159 g per day for a person who weighs 175 lb.
There are several different types of protein powder. Whey is the most popular protein supplement and the one that researchers have tended to focus on, but it is not the only one. Common types of protein powder include:
Protein shakes vary in price and quality. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate protein powders.
According to a 2018 study, many of the best-selling protein powders contain heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
Therefore, people should always proceed with caution when buying protein powders and choose a product from a reputable supplier.