Are Protein Supplements Good For Your Health?

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If you have got into a gym off late, resolved to shed those excess kilos and beef up your body, chances are you have already done some amount of soul searching on the best protein shakes available around the block and spent lavishly on some as well. There is no denying the fact that protein supplements, whether consumed in powdered form or any other way- are scaling high on the popularity meter.

So what exactly are protein powders?

Protein powders are available in different forms; three of the most popular ones include whey, casein and soy protein. Out of these three, whey is the most widely consumed as not only does it taste good but also dissolves easily in water. Also, whey protein is a complete protein, which means that it is replete with the goodness of all the essential amino acids imperative for the body’s dietary needs. For vegans, soy protein could be the preferred alternative. However, this particular type doesn’t dissolve well in water and isn’t exactly good to the taste buds as well.

Also, for one who is a casual athlete and not into sports or athletics on a regular basis, the cost of the protein supplement shouldn’t matter much. One could also benefit from the less expensive options.

However, no matter what they offer or don’t, an individual’s daily protein needs can be met from foods such as fish, chicken, eggs, milk and other dairy products.

So now the question arises that when do protein supplements actually benefit the body?

  • If your body is still growing; as it is the growth phase that ardently requires complete and sufficient nutrition
  • If one is about to join a muscle building program
  • If you’ve been trying to step up the workouts as well as the time you invest in them
  • If you are recuperating from any injury
  • If veganism is on your mind; this is because vegans might get their protein math wrong as along with any animal related food product, dairy products are also a no-go for them

But there’s a caveat in here: Ideally, (if you aren’t into competitive athletics), your daily protein intake (in grams) should approximately match your weight (in kilograms). So, if you are a man weighing around 80 kgs, your recommended protein intake should be around 65-70 grams, each day. Much of that can be obtained from the foods that you eat, such as lean meat, fish, milk and eggs. Now, many of these protein supplements/powders are loaded with 70 to 80 grams of protein per scoop or serving. That way, the proteins that you are consuming easily exceeds the daily limit of it. And too much of protein isn’t exactly the best thing you can do to your liver or kidneys, for that matter.

First things first- Sort the protein math

  1. The average non-athlete adult needs about 0.8 gms of protein for every kilogram of his weight. (So an average man weighing 70 kilos will need about 56-60 grams of protein on a regular basis).
  2. The daily limit for recreational/casual athletes is set between 1.1-1.4 gms of protein from a kilogram of his weight.

(For a casual athlete who weighs around 70 kilos, around 77-100 grams of protein on a daily basis would suffice).

3. Athletes participating in super-endurance sporting activities or into a muscle building regimen may require up to 2 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.

With a detailed overview done with, the remainder of the article will enlist some of the advantages and a few downsides as well of consuming protein supplements/powder regularly.

5 reasons why protein supplements such as whey protein are good for you

  1. They help in fat loss and build muscle: A research was conducted on a few participants over a 12 week period where their daily calorie intake was cut down by almost 500 calories. Some of them were given whey protein supplement while the rest were given a beverage with almost the same calorific content. It was observed that the ones given whey protein lost more body fat while preserving their muscle structure too.
  2. It controls appetite: Consuming whey and other protein supplements in moderation and between meals suppresses hunger and prevents overeating. This is because the protein beverages cut back on the levels of the hormone ‘ghrelin’ that sends hunger signals to the brain.
  3. It is anti-carcinogenic: One of the most lethal conditions, cancer has and continues to affect many a family trees. Certain studies state that including whey protein and other high class protein supplements in your daily diet can reduce risks of cancers of the colon and prostate.
  4. Can lower stress levels: After having subjected 58 subjects to situational stress, one study found that people given protein supplements such as whey exhibited better mood and positivity vis-à-vis their counterparts who did not consume protein supplements.
  5. Improves immunity: Protein supplements after a strenuous workout session keep the glutathione levels in check, thus contributing to improved immunity.

3 reasons to skip protein supplements

  1. Imbalance in nutrition: This is one of the commonest disadvantages of including protein supplements in your diet. What it does is that it offsets the importance of other minerals and vitamins in the diet. This is because of the disproportionate increase in protein intake at the expense of other fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals which can result in nutritional deficiencies over a period of time.
  2. Digestion problems: Certain supplements contain dietary fibers, but most of them don’t. Lesser dietary fiber intake can do harm to your digestion and cause quite a few digestive conditions.
  3. Weight gain: Supplements are what supplements do. They are an auxiliary calorie source supplementing your regular diet. So if you do not take a count of the calorie count and work out to shed the excess, irrespective of the quality of the supplement, weight gain will always remain a possibility. Also, a supplement that is generously packed with protein can increase fat as well as it is primarily the strength training and not solely a supplement that builds muscle mass.

Note– People with kidney diseases should completely ditch high protein and protein supplements as well.

Before you decide to take protein supplements and even zero in on one, have a word with the doctor and weigh its pros and cons carefully. For expert health care advice connect with a Portea doctor today.

 

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Dr.Rajprabha Patra practiced as a Dental Surgeon for 5 years before making a switch into the business domain with an MBA from ISB. As the Product Manager for Counselling Services at Portea, she aims to make a difference in the way mental health is perceived in India.

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