You can’t talk about fitness without also mentioning nutrition. All the workouts in the world won’t help you become toned and fit without a proper meal plan. In today’s world, nutrition has become increasingly important. Despite the fact that there is an abundance of caloric food, not all of it is created equal. Those who want to dedicate themselves to fitness have to get to know their nutritional needs. Proteins are the most commonly used supplements today and they help people achieve the bodies they want. Getting to know them is crucial.
1. What should I look for in a protein supplement?
Before you start comparing protein sources, it would be best to get acquainted with exactly how they work. The average fitness enthusiast might not be familiar with the terminology that surrounds protein supplements. Things like absorption, digestibility, and biological value are important aspects of your chosen protein, but how often do people delve that deep into their nutrition? If they want to see the best possible results, they really should start.
The biological value of a protein source is pretty straightforward. It’s a value that determines how much of a consumed protein is actually used by your body. It’s measured on a scale of one to a hundred, where one hundred means that the entire protein is properly absorbed and used.
Digestibility is something that needs to be accounted for as well. Not every protein source is suitable for digestion by our enzymes. Digestibility is measured by the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score or the “PDCAAS”. The score ranges from zero to one. The closer you are to one, the higher the percentage of protein that is digested. The best part is, the score also takes into account nutritional needs, which means that essential proteins being digested are more valuable, while some of the less essential amino acids aren’t considered all that important.
2. Amino acid content
We don’t eat protein for the sake of using that protein ourselves. Our digestive system can’t even absorb the entire protein molecule. Instead, our body makes use of the building blocks of the proteins themselves. These are called amino acids. There are twenty of them in total, but we’re only interested in a couple of important ones. These are called essential amino acids. They are the ones that the body can’t produce on its own.
The amino acid profile of a protein is crucial for calculating its nutritional value. It takes into account all the different amino acids in the protein and their interactions. Some non-essential and essential amino acids require a partner in order to achieve its desired effect in your body. If the amino acid content of a protein doesn’t contain a certain essential amino acid, that means that it’s not a complete protein. Consuming that protein exclusively won’t satisfy your nutritional needs no matter how much of it you eat. A lack of essential amino acids limits the number of proteins your body can produce. However, issues with essential amino acids are rare due to the fact that people often strive for a varied diet.
3. Egg protein
Ever since humans started domesticating chickens, eggs have been an essential part of the human diet. They are full of protein, healthy fats, and leucine. All of these components make eggs a very valuable addition to many diets. Eggs have one of the highest amino acid scores of all whole foods, even when you factor in their digestibility. Much like any other animal source, eggs contain all of the essential amino acids. Because they also make you feel very full after a meal, they are often hailed as great weight-loss food.
Egg protein powders have become increasingly popular in the past couple of years. They are created by separating the egg white from the yolk and concentrating them into powder form. The egg whites themselves are extremely high in protein. Concentrating them into a powder turns them into a great and easily digestible source of protein and amino acids.
However, removing the yolks comes with its own set of drawbacks. You no longer have a rich source of healthy fats at your disposal. Because of this, you won’t experience the same feeling of fullness as you would if you consumed the whole egg.
Casein is a protein that is found in milk and dairy products. It boasts much of the same nutritional benefits as whey protein does. The main difference between them is how casein is digested. It’s notorious for being slow to absorb and break down in our digestive systems. While many see this is as a major drawback, it has proven itself to be useful in many spheres of fitness and weight loss.
While it’s in the stomach, it has a specific interaction with our acid and digestive enzymes. It creates a layer of gel surrounding it which slowly degrades. This means it will spend quite a while in the stomach before being properly digested. Not only that, but it also slows the emptying of the stomach, which means it also affects the other food we consume.
This slow absorption provides several benefits in muscle building. It slows the breakdown of muscle protein because it provides a steady source of amino acids throughout the day. In those who are overweight, casein helps by increasing feelings of fullness by quite a bit. This curbs appetite and leads to fewer calories being ingested. Not only do you get more muscle mass, but you also lose any excess weight along the way.
5. Pea protein
Peas are a great source of protein. For something that is plant-based, they have a surprisingly good amino acid score. They contain nearly every essential amino acid, which makes them very viable as a protein supplement. Vegetarians and vegans often choose pea proteins as a supplement for their fitness regimes.
Pea protein powder is usually made from yellow split peas. Not only do these peas boast a high concentration of nutritious protein, but they also have a high amount of fibre. They digest slower than whey protein, but still quite a bit faster than casein.
Studies on pea protein have revealed that they are a good source of branched-chain amino acids. Some studies have shown that they also positively affect blood pressure.
6. Whey protein
Whey protein is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the world. Just about anyone who has ever set foot in a gym has probably heard of whey protein. In its powdered form, it’s used as a muscle building supplement that goes well with any bodybuilding routine.
Whey is the result of separating curds from milk during the cheese making process. The end result is a liquid that is extremely high in protein. The protein from whey is complete and it is easily digestible by our stomach and small intestine.
There are a bunch of reasons why whey protein is considered such a versatile workout protein. Experts at True Protein have found that whey protein works great as both a pre and post-workout supplement. Before the workout, it’s good for your muscles to have a large number of amino acids at their disposal. Because whey is so easy to digest, this is doable by simply consuming it right before you hit the gym. On the other hand, it’s also a great post-workout addition to your diet. Your body needs to level out the number of amino acids it has and working out has probably drained most of its stores. Taking a bit of the mixture after a heavy workout allows it to create a balance.
7. Brown rice protein
There has been a lot of talk of brown rice in the nutrition community. It’s a grain that is relatively inexpensive, but it contains a variety of nutrients that are very beneficial to our bodies. It’s an incredibly healthy alternative to its white counterpart. This is because it contains the shell which gives it its brown colour. This shell has a bunch of fibre and additional protein, along with some vitamins and minerals.
Protein powders made from brown rice are a relatively new phenomenon, but they are slowly catching on. They don’t provide the same kind of benefits that whey and casein do, but they satisfy our body’s protein needs just fine. Brown rice powder contains all of the necessary essential amino acids, but it’s are a bit too low on lysine to be considered a complete protein.
Research has shown that brown rice protein and whey protein have similar effects during several month-long bodybuilding regimes. With the added benefit of fibre and minerals, this makes brown rice a strong competitor in the protein powder market.
Using proteins as a supplement for your workouts is a great way to improve your muscle gains and stimulate weight loss. Most protein powders will do the job right, but you might choose different ones depending on your digestive system and your dietary preferences. No matter what you pick, you will find that they will become a welcome addition to your fitness diet.