Being a vegetarian since birth, a lot of people ask me how I fulfill the need of proteins in my diet. Do I use protein powders? Well, as most other vegetarians, getting enough protein into our system just by means of diet can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you are trying to gain or lose weight and are on a special fitness regime. I have used protein shakes while following diets, so I'm going to try to address a few basic points about protein isolates, especially whey protein, and what role they play in your daily life.
Protein Powders have long been associated with Bodybuilding, as they are primarily used by those who like to build muscles and beef up their bodies through heavy weight-lifting and exercise. However, protein powder is not just for bodybuilders or those hoping to bulk up and become macho!
A human body needs daily protein because that is what muscles and tissues are built from, and there is no place where the body can store extra protein. The need for adequate protein in the human body is second only to the need for water. Research has proved that ingesting protein powder every day can boost your immune system, speed up recovery of wounds after surgery or injury, and promote healthy skin, all this by increasing muscle strength and development.
Types of Protein Powders
Protein powders are made from four basic sources - Whey (from milk), Egg, Soy and Rice(vegetable protein). Just like any other supplements available in the powder form, Protein powders can contain one or more of the above protein forms processed into the powdered form, so its easy to mix and incorporate into your food. Adding them to water or milk and ingesting it as a protein Shake is one of the most preferred choices!
Importance of Whey Protein
Out of all of these protein supplements, whey protein has the highest biological value as it gives you more usable gram of amino acids than the other forms. It is recommended to consume between 1 and 1.5 grams of quality protein per pound of body weight each day. Just make sure you divide your total protein consumption into 4-5 meals per day, which ensures create an anabolic effect, that build more muscle and burns more fat.
Lots of people consider using Whey Protein Isolates to compensate for the protein deficiency in their diet. Whey Isolate contains around 90 - 96% protein; this process has more of the lactose and fat content removed from the powder, so you get a higher quality protein. Talk to a nutritionist to compare the different types of Whey protein forms, like Isolates vs Concentrates, or a blend of both. Athletes and bodybuilders need a higher level of protein for faster muscle build-up and hence their needs would be different than an average person. Your trainer or nutritionist can guide you through the process and help you choose what's right for you.
For beginners, here is an excellent writeup on understanding Whey Protein. As a part of my diet and exercise plan, I've used Whey Isolates in the form of protein shakes as there's no way I could get the recommended daily intake by means of cereals, pulses and vegetables. And personally, I would recommend the Optimum brand protein powders for quality. However, if you are just an average individual with no special fitness plan, you can easily get your protein from natural sources like fish and seafood, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, beans, lentils, soy, eggs, lean red meat, etc. However, make sure you do not go overboard than your required protein intake, as excess of anything is poison!
I hope this simple writeup helps you understand the importance of Protein in your diet, understand the different forms of proteins available, especially Whey (vegetarian protein), discuss your options with a nutritionist and choose the one that's right for you. There's no reason to sacrifice your health, even during the holiday season!
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