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Updated February 29, 6:20 AM

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  • 2019-05-16T11:46:33.389-05:00

    Athletes: Take these 4 steps before using protein powder
    Protein powders have really gained popularity in the last 10-15 years. But walk into any supplement store and you will see there are many to choose from. So, how do you decide which one to buy and how to begin using it? Follow these tips:

    Step 1: Determine the need
    Are you trying to lose weight? Bulk up? Lean out? Are you a vegetarian or vegan needing to up your daily protein intake for overall health? Figuring out why you think you need a protein powder is an important step before you buy a powder. Which foods have you tried first? Is there a way to get your protein at each meal and snack from food instead of powder? It is possible to meet your entire dietary protein needs from food. So, while some athletes do use protein powder, not all athletes need to or should use protein powder. Protein powder doesn't contain the same nutritional benefits that foods offer, because they are often low in nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber. So, before you reach for a powder, try what you can first with protein-based foods such as meats, poultry, fish, nuts, nut butters, dairy, beans, soy/tofu and legumes.

    Step 2: Buy a good product
    If you determine there is a need for using protein powder, you want to be sure to buy a good product. Good products are not only processed well, but are also free of fillers you don't want. Pick a product that is certified as clean and safe.  Visit http://www.nsfsport.com/certified-products/ to view certified supplement products. These products are third party certified to be free of illegal and banned substances and to actually contain what the label says. Whether or not you are an athlete being drug-tested, it is nice to know that you are using a product that has what you want and doesn't have what you don't want. I also recommend buying a pure protein powder (meaning, no carbohydrate or fat calories). This allows for the most versatility with the product as well as the motivation to find carbohydrate and fat calories from whole food.

    Step 3: Type might matter
    Studies have shown that different types of protein powder are metabolized slightly differently in the body. Whey protein is a quick-digesting protein and would be most ideal post-workout for recovery of muscle tissue. Casein is a relatively slow-digesting protein, so is better suited to be taken before bed for recovery and body composition changes overnight. Soy protein is a moderate-digesting protein. I generally only recommend soy protein powder post-workout to those athletes who are vegetarian or vegan; whey protein is my first choice. There are lots of other protein powders now on the market: pea, oat, rice, cranberry, egg, etc. Except in cases of allergies or intolerance, I recommend sticking with whey, casein or soy protein, as these three are the most extensively researched and provide the best package of not just protein, but also essential amino acids.

    Step 4: Don't go overboard

    When it comes to protein powders, many athletes believe that more is better. However, I have had athletes put on body fat instead of muscle because they were using protein powders 3 or 4 times a day with double the dosage recommended. Too much protein intake can just as easily lead to body fat gain as too much fat or carbohydrate intake. Use protein powders no more than once daily to leave room for protein intake from real food. Protein powders should only be used for convenience; there is nothing magical about protein in powder form. Limit total grams of protein to no more than 20-30gm per meal or snack (that is grams of protein not the weight in grams of the powder). Check the label to determine how much this would be, but for most products, it is 1-2 scoops. Also note that typically in a post-workout setting, it is best to consume carbohydrate with protein. Drinking protein shakes during workouts is not beneficial to performance or body composition changes. 

    Your Nutrition Coach,

    RDKate

~ All Access Sporting News         

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