When protein shakes are uttered in conversation, the most common thing that comes to mind is muscle building and gym-based workouts. Considered a staple protein source to grant muscle builders and, to a certain extent, other types of exercises as well. Protein powder is primarily designed to be supplements for the body, but many have turned to it as a form of meal replacement. Why exactly are protein shakes so popular and other they best used after a workout at the gym?
What Is Protein Powder
Although it may seem like a pretty straightforward question, the answer is more layered than one might think. Whey, soy, plant and many many more are the different options available that can change up aspects like protein intake quantity, purpose and overall quality. To discover what exactly is in a scoop of protein powder, it is important to zero in on one of the most common types, whey.
Whey originally comes from milk and is extracted from the curd during the filtering process ain to making cheese. It is lactose-based and contains milk and sugar. It is a sweet choice that isn’t for those who are lactose intolerant. Whey is also by far, the most popular form of protein because of its high counts of amino acids that allow for effective protein synthesis. If you want to know what is the face of standard protein powder, whey’s popularity and effectiveness are the places to start.
Casein is also milk, based but doesn’t digest nearly as quickly as whey. It forms a layer of gel that slows down the blood’s absorption of amino acids. This means that protein breakdown is also slowed. This may seem like a bad thing initially, but the benefits of slow protein breakdown are incredible when looked into further.
During long periods without food, such as during periods of sleep or fasts, Casein reserves a decent supply for the body to constantly absorb as your body continues breaking down other nutrients. Casein is the way to go for those who are looking to lose weight and build lean muscle through strength training.
The previous two are rather heavy in dairy and that may pose a problem to those with dairy allergies or specific diets. Because of this, peas are the logical alternative that are surprisingly just as viable as other options. Peas have an abundance of BCAAs and most amino acids in other protein shake.
Studies have shown that this source of protein can provide gains comparable to other protein powder sources, and even assists to decrease high blood pressure. The reason why we don’t see this rivaling the likes of whey and casein could be because of its rarity on the shelves compared to the others.
It’s odd that a carbohydrate source can also double as a protein-based alternative. Although this ingredient doesn’t boast nearly as much protein like whey, it contains the necessary amino acids to make it a viable competitor. This protein source has yet to make waves in the industry and many may opt to go for traditional foods instead of brown rice protein due to the comparable quantity of protein per gram. Regardless, it helps with muscle building and is suitable for high-intensity exercises.
Mixed Plant Proteins
Like pea-based protein powder, this is an amazing choice for vegetarians and vegans. With a mix of hemp, alfalfa, chia seeds, peas, chia seeds, quinoa, and artichoke; there is little reason to not opt for this as an option due to how many healthy nutrients are crammed into this mix.
The trade-off for its lower protein count per scoop is its plant-based features which boast higher quantities of fiber and is easier to digest. It may not be the most well-known type of protein concoction around, but it can still promote a decent amount of muscle growth.
Benefits of Protein Supplements
With all the options available in the protein supplement market, it’s not hard to identify how versatile a protein shake can be. Mostly natural and brimming with fiber and amino acids (aside from protein, of course), there is little risk when consuming them in the appropriate quantity.
Naturally, an overreliance on protein powder will have drawbacks such as its lack of approval from FDA and other official organizations, making its viability subject to individual companies. Also, when taken in excess, its high sugar content and effect of the digestive system are risks that will present themselves, but only when consuming over the dose of the daily recommendation.
Taking protein through the “normal” meals with red meat, fish, eggs and soy would be the ideal goal to ensure that muscle building is optimal, but the cost to a diet that primarily comprises the aforementioned dishes can cost more than a pretty penny.
Additionally, the amount of calories needed to match a couple of scoops of protein powder is excessive at best and may not be good for the body for spiking the calorie intake to such a degree. Therefore, many have opted for protein powder as the faster, more affordable alternative that can be condensed into a small bottle. This beats carrying containers of prepared food for the entire day.
The emphasis on protein also naturally comes with the increasing popularity of muscle building. Pre Workouts and creatine supplements are almost at the same level of priority for bulk-heavy routines. The popularity of fitness as a whole has improved: whether you’d want to pin the rise of popularity to social media’s rising relevance, word of mouth, or the introduction to more intuitive routines - it’s clear that the focus on many people’s minds right now is to improve aesthetically, and muscle building falls into that category for many.