Your body runs on macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are those that we need a lot of in our diets, i.e. protein, carbohydrates and fats. Here, we’re focusing on protein – an organic compound made up of amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies as tissue in the body uses protein to build and repair. Our hair, skin and nails are all built from protein. Even your body’s immune system is built on protein – amazing!
If you’re in need of some additional protein in your diet, protein powder may be a quick and simple option. Whey and Vegan proteins differ in their production – here’s a quick guide to how each comes to life:
- Lots of lovely cows spend their days in fields chewing grass to produce milk
- The milk is collected and refrigerated before being transported to a cheese factory
- The milk is separated into curds and whey. Curds are used to make cheese, while the liquid whey is earmarked for whey protein
- The liquid whey goes through ultra-filtration where a lot of the fat and lactose is removed
- This filtered whey is then spray dried to create a powder.
- Whole seeds from hemp plants are harvested, while pea protein is extracted from yellow split peas
- The outer shell is broken away from the hemp seeds
- The pea protein is reduced to a pea flour
- Oil is extracted from the hemp seed to form a ‘cake’
- The pea flour is hydrated and purified
- The hemp ‘cake’ is added to the original outer shell. This mixture is crushed and combined to form the hemp protein powder
- Elsewhere, using a multi-stage dryer, the pea protein is dried to form a powder
- The base hemp and pea proteins are then mixed to create an optimum blend of 80% pea and 20% hemp.
How do I know which Protein Powder to use?
All proteins are different based on their source. They will have different textures, basic flavours, consistency and amino acid profiles. Some proteins will contain all the essential amino acids, whereas others will be lacking.
To take things back a step, there are 20 amino acids that your body needs to function. 11 of these are made by your body, while nine come from food sources. These are known as ‘essential’ amino acids, as it’s essential for your diet to contain them. If you follow a certain diet, or omit select food groups – for example, a vegan diet – a supplement can help with the nutrients you may be missing.
It’s important to do some homework to find the protein supplement that’s right for you! When it comes to picking a protein powder, it’s mostly about lifestyle and choice. Vegan and Whey proteins each have their benefits, but it’s more about what suits you and your body. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant, you will want to avoid a dairy-based protein.
Benefits of Vegan protein powder:
Benefits of Whey protein powder:
- Hypoallergenic – great for people who are lactose intolerant or suffer from allergies
- Pant-based – therefore can be easier to digest
- Some people prefer to get their protein from plant sources
- Not sourced from animals.
- Whey is higher in all the essential amino acids – those your body doesn’t make itself and therefore needs from your diet
- Whey protein is higher in BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
- Creamier, smoother texture than vegan protein
- Absorbed by the body more quickly.
- There are other types of protein powder available, for example: lean, casein and egg white. Take a look at the benefits of each and make sure they suit your exercise regime and goals.
What does Protein Powder do?
Will I get muscly?
Newsflash! Drinking a protein shake will not make you look like Arnie. We promise. Protein helps build and repair muscle, thanks to the amino acids it contains. So, having a shake right after your workout will help feed those muscles you've strained during exercise.
Mixing your protein powder with water is the quickest way to get it into your system (taking around 30 minutes), where it will start to absorb.
A high protein diet, with moderate carb and fat intake, will help tone your body and achieve lean muscles. The only way you will bulk up is if you lift heavy weights every day and follow a certain diet – body builders follow strict diet and exercise regimes to achieve their physiques!
Protein (especially whey-based) has been proven to satiate hunger and keep you feeling fuller for longer. If you have a shake mid-afternoon instead of a chocolate bar, you should feel energetic until dinner, and you’ll be giving your body something it can use, instead of junk.
It’s not just your muscles that benefit from protein – every tissue in the body uses protein to build and repair. So, a nice addition to keeping those muscles fed is that your hair, skin and nails will look great too!
How do I know I'm getting enough (or too much) protein?
A protein deficiency can cause problems with your wellbeing. You may find you have low energy levels, are feeling tired a lot, have poor concentration, mood swings, muscle, bone and joint pain, and be slow to heal when you hurt yourself. There are lots of symptoms of protein deficiency – if you think you may suffer from it, you should go and see your GP.
In regards to having too much protein: if you ensure your diet is balanced, you shouldn’t have any problems with too much protein. There is no set limit to how much protein your body can process, as everyone is different. However, unlike carbohydrates and fats, your body doesn’t store protein – so once it has used what it needs, your body will just get rid of any waste protein.
A balanced diet is always best. Proteins combined with carbohydrates (vegetables or grains) and ‘healthy’ fats are key.
Why use a protein supplement?
A balanced diet is important, however, sometimes life can get too busy and you might look to a supplement to help give your body what it needs to stay fit and healthy.
When it comes to exercise – when you work out, you create tears in your muscles, which need to repair themselves (this is how muscle is built, on a tear and repair system). It is amino acids that help to rebuild these tears. As whey protein (in its powdered form, mixed with water) can reach your muscles in about 30 minutes, it is quicker than a whole food source and ideal for post workout repairs. Plus, a protein shake will keep hunger pangs at bay and help you power on with your day!
For more wellness tips and winning advice, visit the Neat Nutrition blog
or follow their latest activities on Instagram @neat_nutrition