Why Bother With Protein Powder?
Many health experts argue that very few people need high quantities of protein to begin with, and Consumer Reports points out there are many protein sources from the grocery store which can supply all the protein you need that are not toxic.
- Protein is essential in the body for our muscles but is also necessary for most cell functions since it makes up enzymes, hormones and even DNA.
- Most protein is recycled, so unless you are growing rapidly or are breaking down the body with extreme physical exertion, there is no need for a lot of new protein.
- More people in North America actually suffer from too much protein. Read: The Protein Myth
- The extra calories from excess protein (more than the body needs) are converted into fat.
- The extra nitrogen (ammonia group) from excess protein is first a big stress to the liver in the form of ammonia and then a bigger stress to the kidney in the form of urea.
- Years of stressing the kidney can cause kidney failure.
- Kidney failure is a common disease and cause of death in countries where lots of protein in eaten.
- Kidney failure is very common in populations with very high protein intake (Eskimos, body builders).
- When patients are hospitalized with kidney failure, the first thing done is to put a person on a low protein diet.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The recommended daily allowance for protein is .75 gram for every kilogram of ideal body weight. This means about 44 grams for an average 120 pound female and 56 grams for the average 150 pound male.
These RDAs are based on studies that found the actual human need for protein at .3 grams/ kilogram. A huge margin of safety was added to account for individual variability.
The International Society Of Sports Nutrition has gone a step further, recommending 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for endurance athletes and up to 2 grams of protein / kilo of body weight for strength or power athletes. Again this is being very generous and if you are not an endurance or power athlete, this amount of protein is way too much.
Benefits of Protein Powder
The biggest benefit of protein powders is that they are convenient and for a serious athlete they can be very useful.
For serious athletes, nutrient timing is very important. The effects of nutrition can be greatly maximized by eating it at the proper time. In almost all cases, this is just before and just after hard exercise. This allows for the body to have a ready supply of energy during activity plus the needed protein and carbohydrates to repair and build muscle right after. It is this repair and build up of muscle that is the key factor in getting greater performance and in some cases losing weight.
It is often just not convenient to be cooking after exercise.
Although protein powders can be a good addition to an already healthy balanced diet they should not be used as a substitute. That being said, if the choice for some people is between coffee and a doughnut versus the protein shake, the protein shake wins easily, as long as it is a good quality product.
At Real Food for Life, we like to remind everyone that you can get all your protein requirements from whole real foods. Every single whole plant food has protein.
Beans, grains, seeds and sprouts have high levels of proteins, but fruits like oranges, bananas and even watermelons have complete protein. You just have to eat more of those foods.
In North America, most people are generally eating a lot of food. If that food was whole food, there would be an abundance of all nutrients.
Protein Suggestions and Tips:
Quinoa: a Powerfood for You Now here is a grain with good quality protein. Its essential amino acid balance is similar to milk!
Sprouting Nuts & Seeds Get more protein and easier digestion from your nuts and seeds.
Beans, Beans & More Beans! Filled with protein – 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of beans is equivalent to eating two ounces of lean protein.
Nutritional Benefits of Nuts & Seeds Best plant sources of protein. The American Cancer Association is recommending a plant-based diet for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. An ounce of nuts provides 6 g of protein on average.
- Red Lentil Soup: The lentil was named one top 5 most healthy foods on the planet!
- Almond Milk: A healthy, dairy-free alternative