There are a number of things that you need to have in your diet in order to survive, and protein is one of those things. The body does produce some proteins, but there are also many others that you need to get from dietary sources and protein supplements. Protein is important because it is vital for muscle growth, recovery, and maintenance. Many athletes and bodybuilders know the benefits of protein for muscle recovery after they work out and the energy boost that protein provides.
What is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that the body depends upon for survival. It is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen that form chains of amino acids, of which there are 22, eight essential and 14 non-essentials. There are two different types of proteins: complete and incomplete.
Protein is one of the body’s building blocks because it creates, repairs, and maintains muscles, cells, and tissues. Even our hair and nails are made from protein, and having enough protein in the diet can help you to maintain healthy nails and shiny, gorgeous hair. For this reason alone, it is easy to see why we need protein.
- Complete Proteins: These are proteins that contain all eight essential amino acids. These amino acids are considered to be essential because they are necessary proteins that the body is unable to produce on its own and they must come from dietary sources. Some of the best sources of complete proteins are meat, fish, poultry, milk products, soy, and nuts.
- Incomplete Proteins: These proteins do not contain all of the essential amino acids. Many foods that are considered to be incomplete proteins come from the garden, but you can combine protein foods to create complete proteins for your diet.
Proteins Used in Protein Supplements
The most popular proteins that are used in today’s protein supplements include whey, casein, soy, rice, and egg proteins. All of these proteins have their benefits, but some may be more or less beneficial to some people than others.
Whey: This protein is a milk derivative and comes from the cheese-making process. Because it contains all 22 essential and non-essential amino acids, whey protein is what is known as a complete protein. Whey digests quickly and its effects can be noticed almost immediately, which is one reason why it is so popular with bodybuilders. People who are allergic to milk or lactose intolerant should avoid protein supplements made with whey.
Casein: Also a milk product, because it is a milk protein and not a milk sugar, casein is alright for people who are lactose intolerant. People who are allergic to milk should still avoid this protein. Casein is slower to digest and its effects last longer than whey.
Soy: This is another complete protein and is great for vegetarians and people with allergies or intolerances to certain foods. Some people may experience digestive problems, and if this occurs, just try a different type of protein supplement.
Rice: Here is another protein that is popular with vegetarians and those with allergies. Rice protein is also a complete protein, and because it is low in fat and carbohydrates and gluten-free, it is the ideal protein supplement for people who are interested in using supplements as a part of their weight loss plans.
Egg: Eggs are incredibly protein-rich foods, so it is only natural that some protein supplements have egg proteins as their main ingredient. Many popular protein powders are made from egg proteins because they contain all eight essential amino acids. People with egg or poultry allergies should avoid this type of protein supplement.
Types of Protein Supplements
There are a number of different types of protein supplements available on the market today, and if you are thinking about incorporating them into your diet but are unsure of the different supplements and their uses, you need to do some research. This article is a great place to start.
People use protein supplements for a variety of reasons. Bodybuilders and athletes use them to promote muscle growth and recovery after training sessions and for added energy. Many people use them as meal replacements following certain surgeries or illnesses. Others use them as meal replacements in their weight-loss plan. And there are people who need to gain weight who add protein supplements to their diets for extra fat and calories.
Below is information about some of the most popular forms of protein supplements that are available and how and why they are used.
- Protein Powders – These are one of the most versatile forms of protein supplements that you can get. They are made from a number of different protein sources, including whey, casein, soy, rice, and egg proteins, and can be incorporated into many of your favorite recipes. You can make delicious shakes and smoothies that you can use as meal replacements, and protein powders come in a variety of great flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, berry, and fruit punch. If you want to add protein powders to your meals without changing the flavor of the food, they are also available in unflavored versions.
- Liquid Protein – These are great for added energy and muscle recovery following workouts, and many athletes and bodybuilders drink liquid protein shakes and smoothies before and after training sessions. Most liquid protein supplements are made from proteins such as whey and casein, both of which are milk derivatives. Whey protein is a popular protein for liquid supplements because it is easily digested and goes to work quickly. Casein takes longer to digest and its effects last longer. There are different types of liquid proteins, for both high and low calorie diets, so make sure that you read the label to get the right one for you.
- Protein Bars and Snacks – This is a terrific way to add protein to your diet and be able to enjoy a delicious snack at the same time. Protein bars can also be used for dieters, because there are many that are now made that are low in carbohydrates and fat. If you are looking to beef up, there are many protein bars available that are high in fat and carbohydrates and are used mainly for weight gain. Other protein-packed snack products include cereals, protein chips, protein jerky, protein puddings and even protein pretzels.