I Don’t Understand Protein Powders

20 Aug

I’ve been chatting with my friend Sarah about protein powder and we were debating whether is actually worth the cost or health benefits.

I typically have stayed away from the stuff. In my mind, anything that is derived from something real – like eggs, soy or whey – but made into a powder to be added to other foods (or water) to fulfill the same purpose just makes no sense.

Btw, in no way am I an expert or body builder, and this is strictly my opinion on the stuff, so if any readers have additional insight – I am all ears!

Here are my thoughts on protein powders:

  • Do our bodies really need all that protein?

My friend is studying to be a registered dietician and once told me that when the body receives its daily needs for protein, it simply “flushes” the rest or stores it as fat. A paper from Rice University says that an adult athlete needs 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So a 120 lb athlete only needs 72-108 grams of protein per day. That puts my needs at 66 grams/day – a goal that I already bypass with my normal diet. Interesting.

In a typical day of eating, I consume between 70 – 90 grams of protein: eggs (breakfast), chicken (lunch), Greek yogurt (lunch), deli meat (snack) and sardines (dinner). According to my calorie and fitness tracker, this is 35 grams over my daily needs. This is also on a day where I did 90 minutes of cardio. Looks like I am good to go in the protein sector.

  • Even if you are doing extra weight lifting, your protein needs aren’t going to increase, right?

According to a Vanderbilt study, yes, this is true. This plays right into the above statement. Muscles need a number of different elements in order to repair and re-build themselves, and protein is just one of those pieces.

  • Why not get your protein from real, whole foods?

Check this: 1 scoop of Designer Whey contains 18 grams of protein and 100 calories. This is almost the same a one 6 oz container of non-fat Greek yogurt with 16 grams of protein and 110 calories. It does beat the protein in an 8 oz container of Horizon chocolate milk, which has 8 grams of protein and 150 calories. However, the benefits of both the Greek yogurt and the chocolate milk are that they provide a good balance of protein and carbs, which is essential for muscle recovery and repair (the Whey powder contains 2 grams of carbs).

My assumption is that protein powders are beneficial because of their convenience, their taste and perhaps the cost of buying protein powder in place of meats, milk or yogurt. I am still interested in doing some additional research into whether the body processes protein powders the same way it does with proteins found naturally in foods.

Personally, I think I will pass on the powders and keep it to the real, whole sources for now.

Again, any reader insight into the topic is greatly appreciated!

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