Do you ever stand in front of the supplements displays in gyms, healthfood stores, pharmacies, general markets, or while doing Internet searches? Do they leave you scratching your head in wonder and confusion? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone.
It’s simpler than you think.
- Protein supplements are available in three forms; powder, liquid and ready to use (RTU = prepared)
- The most common protein supplement sources used are whey, soy and casein
- Although the quality of the final product may vary, most proteins used for supplements are sourced from a few manufacturers
- Protein can also be supplemented using real foods such as chicken, fish, beef, pork, soy, nuts and legumes.
Q: Why do I need protein?
A: Protein builds tissues and is essential to the structure of all organisms. But protein only works as it should if you also eat enough calories and meet your total calorie needs.
Q: How much protein do I need?
A: If you’re a healthy adult your protein requirements average 0.8 grams for each kilogram, or 0.36 grams for each pound of body weight.
Q: How do I know when I need to supplement my regular diet with extra protein?
A: Few people actually need protein supplements or supplementary protein foods. If more protein is needed it’s best to eat high protein foods in a larger amount instead of using commercial supplements. If you think you need to eat more protein and supplement your diet, think again.
Here are some of the reasons you might need to add extra protein to your diet.
- During periods of growth especially during teenage years
- If you’re an athlete building muscle, running and/or swimming regularly, and especially at the beginning of your training program or when increasing training for a competition
- If you’ve been injured or have a surgical procedure so your tissues can heal faster
- During certain periods of physical stress, such as acute illness, cancer and cancer treatment, or suffered a fracture
A: Real food is always better than any supplement as long as you’re able to eat enough of it each day. But remember that protein alone is not enough. You also need enough calories so that protein is used for the purpose intended, to build tissue, or the protein you eat will be used to provide the calories you need instead. But if you do need a protein supplement, then a Whey protein is easier to digest and provides a faster source of amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Q: What are some foods high in protein?
A: I consider egg white the best source of pure protein. It is also the easiest and least expensive, and can be incorporated in many foods or eaten by itself. Of course, persons allergic to eggs need to consider other sources of protein such as meats, fish, chicken or legumes. If you’re a vegetarian, milk and dairy products such as cottage cheese, and low fat cheeses are a good alternative. If you’re a vegan you might not be able to get enough protein in your diet unless you use a supplement or eat enough legumes and whole grains in the right combination.