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Today, protein powder is a nutritional supplement staple for those looking to make fitness gains. During phases of intense exercise, muscle fibers are exhausted and take longer to recover. The soreness one feels the days following an intense workout are caused by the muscle fibers breaking down and entering the recovery process. Protein is an excellent aid to this process.
Many avid exercisers choose protein powder supplements due to its convenience in comparison to preparing foods high in protein such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Another benefit of taking protein powder is that it can be taken as a meal replacement or added in addition to meals depending on the person’s fitness goals. The rule of thumb with protein is to take one gram of protein per pound of body weight. However, those looking to gain weight or mass should go above and beyond that on a daily basis. Since most protein shakes are low in fat and cholesterol, especially compared to many protein-rich foods, they offer a good option for those looking to gain lean muscle mass.
Protein tastes best mixed in a shaker bottle or blender with milk or a sports drink, such as Gatorade. However, water is the most common choice due to its convenience, and many powders taste great using just that.
“What is the best time of day to take protein?”
This is a question asked by many and has a simple answer: the best time to take protein varies based on your fitness goals. As a meal replacement, protein can be taken in between meals, in place of meals, or before bed. However, it is important to still be efficient at maintaining a balanced diet (grains, vegetables, dairy, fruits, etc.) throughout the day.
As a recovery agent from intense workouts, protein should be taken within a half hour after a workout, directly before bed, or both. Taking protein directly after a workout immediately feeds the muscle fibers that were exhausted. Fast acting proteins, such as whey, are best for taking directly after a workout since they enter your system fastest. However, most of your bodies recovery occurs during your sleep cycles, so taking protein immediately before sleep will allow for the protein to absorb in the body during these stages, which increases muscle recovery time greatly. One of the best proteins to take pre-sleep is casein protein, which has a very slow absorption rate.
Best types of protein powders
Whey Protein- The most popular, cost efficient choice for people who exercise often. Whey is also so popular due to its consistency in taste and quality. This type of protein comes in two varieties: whey concentrate and whey isolate. Whey concentrate has a low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. It has small amounts of fat and carbs relative to your overall nutrient intake. This type of protein is usually the best selling form of whey. Whey isolate is virtually fat-free for those wishing to eliminate as much fat from their diet as possible. It is typically lactose free for those few individuals who are very sensitive to the low-lactose levels found in whey concentrate. Whey isolate tends to taste slightly better than whey concentrate too, yet its consistency is a little thinner, without the fat.
Casein Protein- Like whey protein, casein protein is another milk protein derivative. Since most of the protein (80%) in milk is casein, the terms “milk protein” and “casein protein” are used interchangeably. The key difference between whey and casein is that whey is absorbed in the digestive system quickly, whereas casein is absorbed slowly and steadily. Taste-wise they are similar. Both are more or less tasteless in their unflavored and unsweetened state.
Egg White Protein- Egg white protein was the most popular type of protein supplement for many years before milk proteins surpassed its popularity due to their better taste and lower cost. Like casein, egg white protein is also naturally very low in fat and carbs.
Soy Protein- Soy protein provides antioxidant benefits, heart health benefits and is often used by women transitioning through menopause.