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Did you know the American College of Sports Medicine gave the go-ahead for athletes to use protein supplements? It is not the only institution backing up the use of protein powder for your workout; verified medical practitioners have also weighed in on the topic. However, while these protein powders are a welcome addition to your workout regime, choosing the right powder is key for achieving the expected results.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, athletes using protein powder need between 1.2 to two grams of the supplement per kilogram of body weight. With that information in mind, here are some of the best protein powders to power your workout and give you that lean physique you crave.
Top of the list when it comes to the most reliable supplements is whey protein. As a matter of fact, most of the protein powders currently on the market are based on whey protein. Whey protein has its origins from milk. It is the liquid that gets separated from milk when making cheese. However, it has very high protein concentration levels and as well as lactose and milk sugar; which partly explains why cheese has a very different taste from milk.
Whey has a faster digestion rate, compared to most supplements and is also rich in branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs. One of the most important BCAAs found in Whey protein is called Leucine. Leucine plays a very important role in aiding muscle growth and improving the recovery process after a workout.
Whey protein is a good addition to your endurance and resistance exercise, especially due to this amino acid. The digestion and absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream paves the way for the creation of new muscles in a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Whey protein is also vital for the building and maintenance of muscle mass. It is one thing to achieve that lean physique you have always wanted but maintaining it is another.
Thanks to its rapid absorption rate, whey protein is among the fastest working protein powders for both athletes and fitness enthusiasts. However, every user is presented with three options; whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. The former two are the most common.
Whey Isolate or Whey Concentrate?
Whey protein isolate might be a little bit more expensive compared to whey protein concentrate. However, this difference is due to the further process the former undergoes in a bid to remove lactose, fat, and carbohydrates from the whey. Whey isolate also has high protein concentration levels and is the preferred option for lactose intolerant athletes. Many people have a hard time digesting the sugars naturally present in milk. You may find, depending on your level of sensitivity, you can digest isolate better because it is lower in milk sugar.
Whey concentrate undergoes a different form of filtering compared to whey isolate. It is also widely available, affordable, and mixes well with water. It also tastes better. However, its protein levels are lower than those found in whey isolate and it contains both carbohydrates and fat. Still, it is an affordable and effective option if the isolate is not available.
Dairy-Free and Vegan Protein Powder Options
While whey protein might be the most common protein powder at the moment, there are other dairy-free options for the vegan athlete. Vegan protein powders are becoming more popular by the day with options ranging from pea, soy, rice, hemp, chia and flax seeds, and artichoke. Here are the three most popular and easily accessible plant-based protein powder options available.
Rice protein powder may be considered inferior compared to whey protein but it also plays a significant role in aiding muscle building. Despite the high amino-acid concentration, rice powder has high levels of lysine. However, if the proper dosage is followed, anyone can achieve the same results seen by whey protein users in a matter of weeks. Rice protein plays an important role in muscle strength and recovery after a strenuous workout.
Soy protein is the most common plant-based protein powder thanks to its all-around benefits. It not only comes in handy when building and maintaining muscle mass, but it also boosts your cardiovascular health. Soy protein also has more health-related benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and ensuring your body stays cholesterol-free. Soy has very high protein levels.
It is considered a complete protein source and it is safe for consumption for most people.
Pea protein powder is easy to digest and contains high levels of proteins. It is made from yellow peas, which are also rich in iron, branched-chain amino acids, and arginine. Pea powder is important for muscle growth and protecting your heart. It also gives a feeling of fullness and is considered a clean lean protein source.
Considering it is 100 percent vegan protein, pea protein has all the amino acids required for both muscle building and recovery after strenuous workout routines. Pea protein is also an amazing option for lactose intolerant people and vegans or those with sensitive stomachs. Do note, it has more calories and carbohydrates compared to whey protein despite the two having the same protein levels.
The supplement market is booming and new companies are making a killing off athletes and fitness aficionados looking to build and maintain muscle mass. Some of these new companies use the marketing language used by established brands such as whey, but their products do not offer the expected returns. For starters, some products are made with fillers and preservatives, which have negative effects after extended use.
If you must use a supplement that is more ‘homemade’ as opposed to the off-the-shelf options presented above, consider a wholesome meal replacement shake. Meal replacement shakes are not only portable, convenient, and quick, but also have lasting positives effects. Meal replacement shakes are also an excellent way to lose weight and improve nutrition. However, after using meal replacement shakes, be sure to add a low-calorie snack such as fruit salad or brown rice. They should only ever be used according to the instructions, and as part of a wholesome and nutritious meal plan.
If you wish to build and maintain muscle mass, the protein powders above will significantly aid in that regard. Not to mention, they contain a variety of nutrients and minerals which are good for your body and overall health. However, before choosing any of the options discussed above, be sure to consult your doctor especially if you have any preexisting conditions.