There’s been a lot of buzz about putting more protein in our diet lately and how increased protein is optimal for good health, weight loss and maintaining tone and muscle.
Protein is King
Yes, protein is the building block of body tissue and can be used as a duel source, meaning it can serve as energy for our body and for building muscle. It is essential to make hormones, enzymes and run other important body systems. It’s needed for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. And since our body does not store protein like it does carbs and fat, it needs a constant supply to stay balanced.
Enter our love affair with the protein shake and protein smoothie. Sure, eggs and bacon are a great source of protein but who has time for that every morning? Protein powders are a quicker and more efficient source. And when you throw in other healthy fruits, veggies, nut milks, and even additional supplements, you get a vitamin and mineral packed meal that fits in the cup holder of your car. It’s a win/win!
What’s Really In Your Protein Powder
The thing about protein powders is that they’re notorious for having lots of filler and unnecessary products. As in any supplement, it’s important to know what you’re getting. I say it all the time, “Buyer Beware” when it comes to things you are putting in your body. Third party certifications on health supplements means that a product has been tested by an outside source to validate ingredients.
People think protein powders are health foods and that regardless of what type or brand, they are healthy. In reality, “protein powders” can be damaging and contain unhealthy ingredients like soy, artificial sweeteners, gluten or poor quality dairy additives from hormone-fed cows.
Too Much or Not Enough?
Another misconception many people have about protein is that you need a whole lot of it. I prefer moderate protein intake over high protein high intake. More and more studies are coming out to support that high protein diets are not necessary for optimal health.
Too much protein in the diet will get stored as fat if it’s not utilized and too little protein can cause muscle wasting and increased appetite. This is so essential to know about protein intake and many people are misinformed when it comes to how much they really need.
The Skinny on Protein
So how much protein do we need every day? That will depend on the individual and what their goals and objectives are with their health. General nutritional guidelines suggest an average minimum of 66 grams for men and 56 grams for women, but this is for “sedentary” lifestyles so those that are more active, workout regularly or even compete, will require a higher intake of protein.
When considering protein powders, I consider two sources of protein as the best for clients; beef or pea. Both are free of common food allergens, making it an excellent choice for people who are sensitive to dairy, soy, rice or other types of protein.
Where’s The Beef?
Beef is ideal for those who want a true Paleo protein source with a high protein profile that only comes from beef. The protein profile from beef contains significant amount of collagen specific amino acids including proline, glycine and alanine. It’s the gold standard for supporting connective tissue.
Our RADO Nutrition Beef Protein is actually a delicious, dairy-free protein powder, yielding 21 grams of protein per serving. Many of my clients are surprised at how creamy and non-gritty it is when blended. It contains HydroBEEF™, a highly concentrated, pure bone broth protein isolate which is free of hormones, non-GMO and is sweetened only with the natural herb stevia.
A Vegan Alternative
Pea Protein has become an excellent alternative for those that prefer a vegan protein sources. Non-GMO Pea protein has high bioavailability, excellent digestibility, and offers a high level of nutritional benefits. It is an ideal option for people with allergies to milk and milk products who need to avoid casein or whey proteins, and for those with lactose intolerance. And for those that are watching cholesterol levels, pea protein is the perfect fit.
Many athletes and bodybuilders who cannot tolerate whey protein seek out pea protein products because it contains a well-balanced amino acid profile, close to that of whey protein. Its excellent array of these building blocks of protein, including high levels of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), makes it a great protein source for athletes and anyone who is physically active.
My clients use RADO Nutrition Pea Protein before, during, and after exercise, as adequate intake of protein, particularly BCAAs, because they help to promote muscle growth and repair. This is ideal after strenuous resistance training.
Protein Any Way You Slice It
Yes, you can eat a steak or whip up an omelet for good sources of protein but if firing up the grill isn’t as convenient, a protein powder shake is healthy alternative. And protein powders were originally designed to be used for fast absorbing post-workout fuel. On-the-go shaker bottles are not an uncommon addition to the gym bag these days. I like protein powders if they are high quality, minimal ingredients and allergen free. I think they offer good benefits to the body.
No Joy In Soy
Alternative protein sources fit a variety of different dietary needs and soy has certainly been a go-to for many years. Before the arrival of pea protein on the scene, soy was a common additive for a protein source. And it sure had a great PR team behind it making it seem like a health food.
I like to say, “There’s no joy in soy” because of the liabilities that can come with having it in your diet. Soy contains anti-nutritional factors like phytates and tannins, which can inhibit absorption of minerals including iron, zinc, and calcium.
One pitfall of many vegan diets is that they can be high in phytates, which can have devastating effects as endocrine disruptors, like suppressed thyroid function, reproductive and development problems, just to name a few.
Fast Fact: Endocrine Disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the endocrine or hormone systems. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.
Soy is also known to have estrogenic effects that may be undesirable for some patients. Pea protein contains low levels of isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds), minimizing possible estrogenic effects. Pea protein is very easy to absorb and to digest.
No Way to Whey?
Whey remains a staple with big-box nutrition stores, bodybuilders and fitness fanatics. Usually that means mass-produce and filled with cheap junk, bad sweeteners, and artificial flavors. There’s nothing healthy about those products.
Isn’t it ironic that often the body builders and fitness fanatics who are obsessed with the results on the outside, aren’t really that concerned with the quality of products they are putting inside their bodies.
Contrary to many popular claims about whey, make no mistake, it is a derivative of dairy. Whey protein is found in dairy products like milk and yogurt. You know that liquid you see floating around your yogurt cup? That’s whey. When milk is curdled and strained, the byproduct is whey.
Whey is also insulinogenic, meaning it increases insulin. This in turn can cause people to store body fat. In other words, whey protein effects on the body can be similar to eating a high-processed carbohydrate foods like bread and pastry.
Many people’s body’s cannot tolerate this version of dairy. Instead of a lean body, they get gas, bloating, stomach aches, excess mucous and congestion.
The Right Protein for Optimal Health
Balanced and moderate protein intake should be a normal part of our everyday diet. Check your facts, make sure you know where your protein comes from, the quality of the product you are ingesting, and that it’s giving you what you need.