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Protein Powder: Uses and Benefits for the Modern Athlete
Wondering how to use protein powder to supplement your workouts? Jack City has answers. Check out our blog for a crash course on all of the types, uses, benefits and risks of protein powder.
What Is Protein Powder?
If you’ve ever spent time in a gym, hung out with athletes, or browsed online fitness forums, you’ve heard of protein powder. Perhaps you’ve even tried it before. But do you know why so many athletes sing the praises of protein shakes and powders?
Let’s start off with the basics: What is protein powder, anyway?
Protein powder is an edible product athletes use to keep their bodies healthy before, during, and (perhaps most importantly) after a workout. It is typically made from milk—this type is referred to as whey powder—though a number of dairy-free and vegan alternatives now exist as well. As the name suggests, this product consists of desiccated or powdered proteins, like milk and egg, types of beans (soy, peas), or starches like rice or potatoes.
What Does Protein Powder Do?
Whether you’re engaging in exercise or not, your body needs protein. The primary purpose of protein powder is simple: to deliver an appropriate amount of it to your body. It’s formulaic and consistent, and doesn’t require any extra time or fuss for meal prep or planning. Athletes favor it because incorporating protein powder into one’s diet allows for exact knowledge of how much protein they’re getting. It also allows athletes to increase the amount of protein they are consuming without changing their typical caloric intake.
Most athletes and bodybuilders say that the amount of powder that they consume is determined by their weight. As a typical rule of thumb, it’s ideal to use 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 160 lbs, you will want to consume between 128-192 grams of protein.
Is Protein Powder Good for You?
Protein powder is a fantastic way to give your body the protein it needs to function well, recover after a workout, and help your muscles grow. That being said, it isn’t the right choice for every athlete—like anything you eat or consume, how protein powder affects you will depend on your own body.
Some people may find that protein powders are hard to digest and can cause stomach issues. This, however, is often due to the protein source used in the powder—those who are lactose intolerant, for example, will likely suffer from tummy troubles if they consume whey-based products. Additionally, those with sensitivities to sugar are advised to tread carefully, as many mass-produced protein powder products contain a significant amount.
Finally, we recommend that you research brands and ingredients before adding any protein powder to your routine. Recent research has indicated that some protein powders contain harmful toxins or chemicals. To combat this, The Clean Label Project has published a list of chemical- (and toxin)-free protein powders, which is a very helpful resource!
What Types of Protein Powder Are Available?
There are two main types of protein powder: whey protein isolate and general whey protein. Both forms are whey-based, but have one main difference: the concentration levels of protein you are digesting. With a whey protein isolate powder, you will typically consume a larger concentration of protein per calories than you would if you chose regular whey protein. For this reason, protein isolates tend to cost a bit more. They can also be a bit harder to digest, so it’s a wise idea to chat with your nutritional counselor or a doctor about which form might be better for you.
Are There Dairy-Free Protein Powders?
Whether you’re a vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply not a fan of dairy (or egg) products, there are plenty of fantastic protein powder options for you to try. A few of our favorites are:
Huel has gained a dedicated following over time. We love that it doesn’t just come in one variety—athletes can choose the variety and macro splits that work for them. Huel powders are vegan, have gluten-free options, and are available in both standard and high protein varieties. Added bonus? Huel makes other protein products too, like premixed shakes and power bars.
This British protein powder brand is entirely plant-based…and it’s now available here in the USA. Not only do they make great-tasting vegan protein powders, but a portion of all of their proceeds are donated to charitable causes.
Athletic herbivores swear by PlantFusion for its great value, delicious flavor, and low sugar levels.
What are Some Protein Powder Benefits?
There are loads of benefits to adding protein powder to your life and routine. A few of the biggest ones are:
- Muscle Building
Why do so many athletes turn to protein powders to bulk up? Protein, as it turns out, is great for your muscles. When your body gets the right amount of protein, it can grow stronger and to build bigger muscles.
- Post-Workout Recovery
Protein is crucial to post-workout recovery. When you finish an intense gym session, it’s vital to consume a healthy amount of protein (as well as carbs!) to ensure that your muscles grow as you rest, not deteriorate.
- Weight Loss and Management
Plenty of folks use protein shakes and powders as a tool for maintaining weight loss, or shedding extra pounds. For example, many intermittent fasters rely on a protein-packed shake to ensure that they know exactly how many nutrients they are consuming. It makes it safer and less stressful!
If you’ve been told that you need more protein in your diet, powders and shakes are a great way to do so without causing anxiety over meal planning or cooking new foods.
Now That I’m a Protein Powder Expert…Where Should I Work Out?
Whether you choose to try a whey or vegan protein, an isolate or or general, Huel or Form, there’s one thing for sure: it’s time to find the right workout spot!
If you happen to live in Boise, we’d love to invite you to come and meet our team at Jack City Fitness. We have everything that a workout-loving, protein shake-drinking, muscle-building athlete like yourself needs to enjoy the ultimate gym session.
Give us a call today, and we’ll invite you over to our health center for a FREE fitness consultation using our own InBody machine. You’ll also be welcome to peek into one of our many classes, meet some of our coaches and team members, and tour our expansive facility. If you decide that you’d like to sign up with us, we can make you one of our partners straight away. That will give you instant access to all of our facilities, so you can enjoy 24/7 gym use, as well as the options to work with a coach or explore custom options like remote or team sessions.
We can’t wait to meet you and see what you’re made of!