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How To Buy Protein Powder

I like to think we're living in the golden age of protein. Protein has never been as popular as it is today, and I'm glad people everywhere are finally embracing the power of this mighty macronutrient. Protein is a critical building block that aids in the growth, maintenance, and repair of muscle, and there's no denying its impact on strength, performance, and body composition.

how to buy protein powder

As a nutritionist, I find it interesting that so many myths about protein have come and gone, including the claim that the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) was perfect for all adults, regardless of how much they trained, and that if you ate more protein than the RDA your kidneys and bones could be in danger. Obviously a lot has changed. In recent years it has become clear that people who exercise regularly need more protein than the RDA, and that higher intakes are quite safe.

However, with so many protein supplements on the market, one of the most common questions I get asked is which one to buy. Below are some guidelines to help you pick the right protein type and product for your personal fitness goals!

Protein makes up roughly 80 percent of muscle mass (once the water is removed), and is responsible for muscles' structure and action. In addition to high-protein foods, many athletes rely on protein supplements to help optimize muscle size, strength, and performance. But when it comes to protein supplements, the bottom line is that not all proteins are created equal. Before we get into the different types of protein, let's quickly go over how proteins are classified:

Whey is by far the most popular protein supplement because it has been shown to promote muscle growth and fat loss. It is digested and absorbed faster than other proteins, making it the ideal choice to consume either immediately before or after a workout.

Whey is approximately 20 percent of the protein in cow's milk and has the highest branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content, including roughly 11 percent leucine and 9 percent combined isoleucine and valine, yielding a 2:1:1 relationship.

Leucine is a very desirable amino acid since it plays a direct role in optimizing muscle-protein manufacturing after strenuous training and in response to a protein meal by increasing the activation of the mTOR pathway. Moreover, whey is probably the most thermogenic protein, meaning that the increase in calories burned per calorie consumed is greater than other proteins. This is likely tied to a more acutely potent effect on muscle protein synthesis.

Although it has a lower anabolic, or direct muscle-building effect, when compared to whey, casein is a good source of BCAAs as well as glutamine, which helps it reduce muscle-protein breakdown. Remember net gains in muscle protein reflect the imbalance between muscle protein synthesis (anabolic) and breakdown (catabolic). Thus glutamine lends support more on the anticatabolic side.

We know milk is great for dunking chocolate chip cookies into, but did you also know it's great for speeding up recovery after an intense workout? Milk protein contains all of the essential amino acids in a natural 80/20 ratio of casein-to-whey blend, which allows for the fast and sustained release of amino acids necessary for muscle growth.

Eggs are making a serious comeback now that some of the long-held beliefs about their role in heart disease are being dismissed. The egg protein found in protein powders is mostly egg-white protein isolate, and is an egg-cellent alternative for people with milk allergies!

Egg protein is also at the top of its class when it comes to quality. With a score of 100 on the biological value (BV) index, egg protein contains all the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis, and is easily digested by the body.

Furthermore, each meal should be based on protein, whereby you consume at least 20-30 grams of protein (depending on body size and protein type) every three hours of so. This will help optimize muscle-protein synthesis (MPS) throughout the day. Further still, there are three key meal targets during the day whereby protein is critical:

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you've probably heard of protein spiking and nitrogen spiking in the news. Some brands have been tagged as using additional amino acids like taurine and glycine and even creatine to increase the protein count in a product. They're able to get away with this because all those additional nutrients contain nitrogen, which is the factor used by laboratories to estimate how much protein there is in a product.

The problem is that, while those ingredients have their own benefits, they are not protein, nor will they have the same impact on muscle growth or performance benefits as intact protein. So how do you know if the protein you're taking is high quality and contains the right amount of protein?

Look for leucine-content call-outs for on the protein powder's label. Leucine, an essential branched-chain amino acid critical for muscle-protein production, appears to help maximize the mechanisms that "trigger" or stoke muscle-protein synthesis, resulting in strength, power, endurance, and size development. Look for at least 2 grams of leucine per serving (scoop). For a whey protein powder the math is easy, a 25 gram protein claim would yield around 2.5 grams of leucine since whey protein is roughly 11 percent leucine. Keep in mind that casein and soy contain less leucine, about 8 percent.

Overnight, muscle protein breakdown (MPB) is increased, and losses can be as much as 5-15 grams depending on body size and diet throughout the day and leading up to bedtime. Protein and some carbohydrates first thing in the morning help reverse this negative impact on muscle protein and stimulate MPS. Shoot for at least 20-35 grams of protein at breakfast, again depending on body size, protein type, and total protein targets for the day.

A strenuous training session can elevate both MPS and MPB. Your goal is to maximize the former and minimize the latter with both protein and some carbohydrates, either immediately before or after training. Like breakfast, aim for around 20-35 grams of protein.

During the night in an unfed state, muscle-protein balance slides more toward MPB than MPS to generate free amino acids to help fuel the body. Consuming at least 20 grams of casein or whey and casein blend, or a lesser amount protein combined with supplemental BCAAs or more specifically leucine, will help keep MPS higher as you sleep.

Whey protein isone of the most commonly used proteins and is best for day-to-day use. Itcontains all of the essential amino acids and is easily digested. It helpsboost energy and can reduce stress levels.

The bare minimum protein requirement is estimated to be 0.8 grams per kilogram (kg) of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. So at the absolute minimum, a 160-pound person needs about 58 grams of protein to prevent protein deficiency.

If you choose to use protein powder, 20-40 grams of protein per day (usually 1-2 scoops) from protein powder is a reasonable amount. For most people, 80 grams per day (about 3-4 scoops) is a good upper limit of supplemental protein intake.

Muscle protein synthesis is the process your body uses to repair and build muscle after exercise. While muscle protein synthesis is much more complicated than just one amino acid, leucine plays an integral role in triggering the process, which makes it probably the most well-known BCAA.

For example, pea protein is low in the EAA methionine. But you can still meet your overall protein needs as long as you eat a variety of other plant protein sources throughout the day. For example, tofu, brazil nuts, and white beans are all good sources of methionine.

The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is a measure of how much of a given protein is truly digestible. The highest possible score is 1.0. And the higher the score, the higher the quality of protein. (Read this if you want to know more about how PDCAAS is calculated.)

Collagen is very popular right now as a skin, joint, bone, and gut health supplement. Collagen peptides, the most common form of collagen in supplements, are usually derived from bovine hide or fish. Some people also use it to boost their protein intake, and there are a few collagen powders marketed specifically as protein supplements.

Concentrates: Protein is extracted from animal or plant-based foods by using high heat and acid or enzymes. Concentrates are the least processed and can be 35 to 80 percent protein by weight.21 A protein percentage of 70 to 80 percent is generally the most common (though this can be lower in plant proteins in particular).

Protein hydrolysates: To create this product, protein undergoes additional processing with heat, enzymes, or acid, which further breaks apart the protein chains into shorter peptides.

An important note: Third-party tested protein powders may be more expensive. This is partially because the testing process is quite expensive. At the same time, investing in third-party testing shows that a supplement company is committed to protecting the health and reputation of their customers.

For certain types of protein, such as whey, casein, and beef isolate, being grass-fed is also seen as a plus. Grass-fed cattle only eat grass and forage, with the exception of milk prior to weaning. Certified grass-fed animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture.26

Plant-based protein powders tend to have a grittier or chalkier texture, which means they often taste better when blended using an electric blender (rather than a shaker cup). Blending with a creamier liquid, such as plant milk, or adding higher-fat items like yogurt and nut butters to your shake can also help smooth out a chalky protein powder. (For ideas on how to make your protein powder taste better, try these flavorful smoothie recipes.) 041b061a72


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