There's whey protein, soy protein, pea protein, and more. Do these protein powders legitimately help with weight loss and muscle building? Here's what some experts say.
What are the benefits of protein powder? Here's how protein powders could help weight loss and toning: Protein powders contain, well, protein. And everyone needs protein. How much depends on things like your gender, age, activity level and health. Someone who is regularly exercising, whether it's an activity like running or strength training, or both, needs extra protein. Protein before a workout helps make amino acids available to your body so it doesn't use the protein in your muscles to fuel a workout-and protein post workout helps repair damage to your muscles that occurred during the workout, helping to prevent injury and also helping to make those muscles bigger and stronger. But does that protein need to come from a powder, versus a food? Nope. Protein powder doesn't have any magical powers when it comes to weight loss or muscle building.
Can you overdose on vitamins? Protein can make it easier to get the proper amount of protein for people who need extra, like athletes, or who have dietary restricitions, like vegetarians or vegans. It's great to be able to have the versatility of protein powders and you can get so much protein at one time.
Can using protein powders really help you lose weight? And build muscle? The science in slim when it comes to connecting protein powders and weight loss. If weight loss occurs after someone begins using a protein powder as a meal replacement, it would more likely be the result of an overall reduced calorie intake.
On the other hand, there is science to connect protein with muscle building. Most protein powders--whether milk, whey, or plant based--are considered complete proteins, which means protein powders typically contain all the essential amino acids your body needs to repair tissues, and build and maintain muscle mass. And complete proteins contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which work to help fuel working muscles, stimulate protein synthesis, and promote muscle recovery.
Lose weight with these 8 little changes. Much of that research is tied to whey protein powders. Whey protein powders are best used by athletes ( if you don't have allergies or an intolerance to whey), because research shows they are most effective for replenishing tired muscles.
Is protein powder risky? Protein in excess of what your body needs isn't automatically stored as muscle. It might be stored as fat. In addition, too much protein puts strain on the kidneys, and can lead to dehydration, bloating, nausea, osteoporosis, and more. And, of course, protein powder on its own is not a meal. Combine it with a carbohydrate like oats, a healthy fat like peanut butter, and a fruit or vegetable for a balanced meal. Mix the powders into smoothies, pancake mixes, oatmeal and more.
And while it's not a risk, protein powder is processed. If you want fewer processed foods in your life, then try to get all of your protein through natural food sources. Try eggs, chicken breast, salmon, milk and more. You can also make your own protein powder from whole ingredients like dry milk powder, oats, and almonds.
How do you chose a safe protein powder? All protein powders are not equal. A big reason: supplements such as protein powders do not require FDA approval for marketing. Because of this, they may contain less protein, more sugar, and differing amounts of other ingredients--versus what the label claims. You run into the risk of not actually knowing what you are consuming. Look for one that's NSF Certified for Sport, which means a product has undergone third-party testing to assure that what is listed on the package is actually in the product. Even if you're not an athlete, you should seek out a protein powder with this certification because it's gone through rigorous testing to assure it is legit.