What you should know about protein powder
While food typically is the best way to get your nutrients, some people need a little assistance from vitamins and other supplements. But with an assortment of protein powders in the market, how do you know which one is best for you?
The recommended daily allowance for protein intake is based on your body weight, age and activity level. For example, if you weigh around 150 pounds and are inactive to lightly active, you need about 55 grams of protein per day. If that same 150-pound person is a very active athlete, they might require twice that much or more per day.
You can try to split this up throughout the day equally with about 20 grams per meal. To put this into perspective, each ounce of the following typically has about 5-7 grams of protein: animal meats, harder cheese, egg, fish and shrimp. By comparison, many protein powders contain upwards of 20 grams of protein per scoop.
You can mix protein powders with water or milk, put in a smoothie, make protein pancakes, bake into muffins and much more,” says Kate Salzsieder, a registered dietitian at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis. “The beauty of protein powders is their versatility.”
As with anything, however, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
“Log your daily food intake to make sure you’re not getting too much protein,” Salzsieder says. “Symptoms of an excess of protein include nausea, irritability, diarrhea, tiredness and indigestion.”
Are you getting enough protein in your diet? If not, protein powder may be an option. Here are some tips from Salzsieder:
- Watch for calories: Choose one that is not loaded with a lot of “extras” (carbs and sugars) that will unnecessarily increase your overall calorie intake. While many powders help you feel full and can curb cravings, casein-based powders help you feel fuller longer.
- Allergies: If you have specific allergies, be sure to triple check that all the ingredients are safe. Some protein powders contain allergens like lactose, gluten, eggs and more.
- Vegetarian: Focus on plant-based powders, like rice, pea, soy or hemp proteins.
- Athletes: Consuming whey proteins or whey isolates within 60 minutes of a workout promotes muscle growth. In addition, make sure the powder you choose is not laced with anything that could negatively impact your ability to compete (NCAA has a list of banned substances).
If you have any nutrition concerns or just want to know if you are consuming the appropriate amount of protein, ask your provider or speak with a registered dietitian.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.