The importance of protein cannot be oversold. Did you know that every cell in your body contains protein?
Do you need a protein supplement?
Protein really is the building block of every part of you, so you need a plentiful supply of it to grow and maintain your health.
Proteins are actually chains of around 20 amino acids. These amino acids can combine in different ways to create new proteins that you body needs, like muscle and even bone, or to produce hormones and enzymes.
Luckily, our bodies can make 11 of these amino acids itself and they are called non-essential amino acids. However, there are another 9 that you can’t produce – the essential amino acids – and you need to get these through your diet or your body won’t work properly.
So can a protein powder provide all the amino acids that you need for a fully functioning body?
Yes and no.
Not all protein powders are created equal and some provide better essential amino acid coverage than others. We look at this more closely below:
Why Take A Protein Powder?
If you eat a whole food diet that includes animal products such as eggs, fish, chicken and lean red meat, you should be able to consume your daily protein requirements.
Let me be clear that taking this path and eating whole foods is the best option for maintaining a healthy body.
However, sometimes, getting all the protein that you require from natural food sources isn’t so easy and that’s where protein supplements can really help.
If you are vegetarian or vegan or simply prefer plant-based foods, hitting all the right food groups to get all of those essential amino acids can be hard (as I know from experience for 16 years of my life). If this is you, then a well-balanced plant-based protein powder (like one of these) could be a real lifesaver.
Irregular meal times
Another common example is if you do shift work or a job where you struggle to pin down regular meal times. After all, not everyone has access to a kitchen where they can prep food at work.
And if you fancy getting your protein hit in the shape of a tasty little ball of nutrients, take a look at our Best Bliss Balls Recipe.
A well-chosen protein supplement is arguably far better for you than a tv dinner nuked in the office microwave or a sugary snack from the worksite vending machine.
You may find protein powders are great for filling in gaps in your daily diet or for giving you a quick nutrient hit when you finish work, but don’t feel like cooking a full-blown dinner.
Convenient and effective for post-workout recovery fuel
Perhaps you are an athlete, or simply like to work out a lot? For people like you, protein supplements and sport nutrition probably go hand-in-hand and can assist post-exercise recovery as well as helping to build muscle.
Convenience is a huge bonus when it comes to protein powders. Don’t forget that a protein shake is both quick to make and easy to digest (and there’s far less washing up too!).
Sometimes, cooking up a plate of eggs post-exercise, just isn’t practical. If you keep some of your favourite powder at the gym or at work, you can mix up a quick batch of nutrients whenever you need them.
If you’d like to know more about all things protein powder, see our ultimate guide.
Invest in a protein shaker
I recommend having a protein shaker stashed away somewhere on hand so that you can whip up a protein hit as and when you need it. Keep a shaker ready to go in your car and you can refuel driving between appointments. You can even drink your protein on the go walking into the office.
And if you’d like some ideas on how to get rid of the ‘new’ plastic smell in your protein shaker bottle, please see here.
I recommend carrying your protein powder around in a bespoke and custom-designed shaker like this one below. Using a recycled water bottle or similar just won’t cut it and will quickly be consigned to the bin.
The best protein shakers are robust, stylish, dishwasher safe and thermally-sound. They allow you to conveniently mix a protein shake on the run, are easily cleaned to keep those nasty smells away and are leak proof. You can also buy insulated ones that can keep your protein drink chilled on a hot summer’s day – heaven.
A bespoke, designed-for-purpose protein shaker will enable clump-free shakes (trust me when I say that the ‘clumpiness’ of supplement powder drinks is a very real problem). The best shakers are designed to eliminate clumps by including blending/ whisking balls (or similar) and some are even powered to help with mixing.
If you’d like to read more about the pros and cons of some of the most popular protein shakers on sale in Australia at the moment, please see here.
Protein powders are versatile and proven
And don’t forget that not everyone who takes protein supplements does so either regularly or out of vanity or to look buff on the beach.
If you are recovering from surgery, or a long-term illness you may find that taking a balanced protein powder for a period of time helps to get you back on your feet faster – though you should always consult your doctor before undertaking such a diet plan.
Related: Read our detailed breakdown of the protein supplement market and why there are so many niche varieties, including vegan and plant-based protein powders in the following articles: