Protein powder – is it for you?

Could you benefit from downing protein powders after a workout? WH&F sci-guru Jay Bonaretti finds out.

Protein powders offer a refined and processed supplemental form of protein. In a similar way that vitamins are extracted or manufactured and packaged for sale, protein is also a highly desired nutrient which is essential for the human body. There are various forms of protein, and as with any manufactured product, many variations and grades of quality are available.

Protein powders became more and more popular as people realised the full potential of working out with protein supplementsProteins are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of human connective tissue, including muscles, tendons and ligaments, not to mention the brain.

While proteins can be metabolised for energy, they are better at helping to metabolise body fat for energy. Protein is a thermogenic; it is slow burning, requiring 30 per cent more energy to be digested than carbs and fats. Furthermore, excess proteincannot be stored the way carbohydrates (sugars) are. Proteins are found in meat and meat products, nuts, fish, and beans.


Supplements versus natural foods

A common discussion is whether or not protein powders are better for you than regular food. Protein is found in several foods, and many people swear by unprocessed all-natural meat.


Here are a few advantages of food compared to using a powdered supplement:

• It’s all natural

• Arguably, creating muscle with another animal’s muscle makes more sense

• Foods often offer well balanced meals with necessary carbs, fats vitamins and minerals

• Powders add a lot to a grocery budget

• No added preservatives, sugars, or sweeteners


There are also several advantages to choosing protein powders over real food:

• In a liquid form, the proteins are more quickly digested and delivered

• Protein powders are convenient, and can come with you to the gym, etc.

• Protein powders have a longer shelf-life than, say, meat

• Supplements offer a huge protein dose (up to 40 grams), which food usually does not contain in a single meal

• There are specially designed combinations to fit different goals and needs


Be sure to always do your research and then read the labels before seeking your protein supplement of choice. Coaches, trainers, nutritionists all agree that a blend of real food combined with protein supplements offer the best results. Supplements (even if they are meal replacements) do not contain enough nutrients to be the main daily food source. Use protein powders as they were designed; to assist with daily meals to reach physical goals.