We live in a world where we are told what we should and should not eat on almost a daily basis so it is often hard to know which advice to take when it comes to our nutrition. Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian or meat based diet we all need the same macro nutrients to keep us in top condition. A well balanced diet should consist of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and it isn’t until we keep a record of our daily intake that we realise we might be deficient or under-eating in one of these macros.
Generally speaking, most people find it easy to consume enough fats and carbs. However, consuming enough protein can be difficult and for anyone looking to maintain a healthy balance then it should make up around 30% of your daily nutrition.
Good sources of protein include meat, eggs, fish, milk, cheese and nuts – but to consistently reach your daily consumption levels it can be beneficial to consider supplementation. The number one nutritional supplement is whey protein. Often found in powders (shakes) and bars, it has numerous health benefits.
A Complete Protein
Whey protein is considered to be the most complete type. It contains 9 essential amino acids and usually comes in a highly concentrated form that is low in fats and carbs. This means that you can boost your daily protein intake easily without increasing your consumption of other macro-nutrients.
There is no getting away from the fact that it is highly convenient – especially when taken in the form of a shake or bar. Keeping your protein consumption up throughout the day is hard work, especially for those who have an active lifestyle or are always on the move. It’s much more socially acceptable to be walking down the street eating a protein bar than it is to be eating a chicken breast – making the convenience factor of the supplement a big reason for using it.
It’s Fast Acting
Whey protein is consumed quickly by the human body. In contrast, casein is absorbed by the body at a much slower rate and although both have their place it is the whey variety that we look to use following a work out as it gives our muscles the fuel they need quickly. This aids muscle repair and is usually the reason why so many personal trainers advocate consuming a shake straight after a heavy gym session.
Promotes Lean Muscle Mass
Protein is required to build muscle and by consuming a higher proportion of it in our diet we can add lean muscle mass to our bodies much more effectively than if we were not supplementing our intake. If you are unsure on what sort of whey protein to take then FitnessBrain has a useful resource on the topic.
Evidence It Lowers Cholesterol
There is evidence from a study in the British Journal of Nutrition that whey protein supplements can actually reduce the cholesterol in the body. A 12 week study found a reduction in cholesterol for overweight men and women taking whey supplements compared to those taking casein supplements.
Of course, like any kind of supplement there can be side effects of taking them. The main concerns around whey protein are that they can induce stomach pains, cramps and nausea. The effects are different for each person with some citing these side effects and others having none. Although whey is low in lactose content, those who have more severe reactions to it may be lactose intolerant and not realize it. For us, the benefits outweigh the possible side effects.