Protein is a nutrient found in chicken, fish, and red meat; pork chops, a ham roast, and bacon. Meats, fish, and poultry are complete sources which provide all the amino acids a body does not make naturally.
Some are fattier than others like shrimp versus chicken; cold-water fish as opposed to tropical varieties. Eggs and whey are also complete. Vegetarians often derive protein from dairy and soy, beans, nuts, and some grains, but they are not complete sources.
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. They contribute to the development of a healthy nervous system, circulation, hormones, metabolism, and virtually every function one’s body performs. More nutrients are also involved, but without amino acids no system would be able to function properly.
Who Takes Protein Supplements?
The supplement industry is favored by athletes and bodybuilders, men and women, amateurs and professionals, of all ages. There are also others who benefit from protein supplements and they have been associated with a new craze too: the high-protein weight loss diet.
Since adding muscle helps the body to burn fat, it stands to reason that eating more protein or taking a supplement will hasten muscle growth. Amino acids are also associated with better energy and a faster metabolism. Consumers with eating problems and in poor health are prime candidates for this style of eating or supplementing.
What Forms Do Supplements Take?
There are several ways to take a protein supplement. You can obtain pills and swallow several of those daily. Consume a drink made from powdered proteins, whey being the most potent and easy to digest, but egg is good for lactose-intolerant individuals and plant sources suit vegans best. One can also try protein-enriched snack bars and other foods. Some cereals are now touted for their protein content.
How Do They Taste?
The shakes are what vary most as far as taste is concerned. Certain plant and grain proteins like rice, quinoa, and hemp can’t seem to break down to the same extent as whey and egg powders and create a drink that is slightly gritty.
If they contain greens, some consumers say they can’t bear the color and this affects the way these consumers perceive flavor. That’s easy to fix, however, by dropping intensely-colored fruits into the mix such as blueberries or dropping some dye into the blend. Cocoa powder creates a chocolatey look too.
Certain varieties of shakes come in numerous flavors like Chai Tea, Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry, but there are also unflavored varieties. The advantage of an unflavored drink is that you can make it taste the way you wish using whatever sweetening method is most palatable.
Stevia is popular among many manufacturers, but some people say it tastes synthetic, like aspartame which is a no-no in the health industry. Xylitol is better-tasting. Consumers can add one of these sweeteners to a plain drink mix or opt for a natural sugar like honey or maple syrup, each of which is an antioxidant.
They are more practical additions if you aren’t counting calories. Bananas and other fruits also sweeten these mixtures. Blending with ice helps to grind down gritty particles of rice and hemp protein so they are smoother. The addition of cocoa increases calories only slightly and doesn’t affect fat. Watch out for processed sugars and high carb levels.
What Else Is in the Blend?
Apart from protein, a number of drink mixes contain vitamins and minerals supplying all or a part of one’s daily dose of nutrients apart from what is obtained during meals. Read measurements carefully as percentages aren’t always labeled. You might need to find another source from vitamin tablets or foods.
Vitamins and minerals also support the work being done by proteins to increase muscle and bone density, blood volume, to reduce fatigue, injury, and to increase one’s energy. Scientists are particularly enthusiastic about the electrolyte trio of magnesium, calcium, and potassium; B Vitamins; Vitamin D; and Vitamin C. They all work together in one’s body for good.
Where to Buy Protein Supplements
If you’re looking for an energy bar or cereal with added protein, the grocery store is a fine place to start. This is particularly so if your local shop carries a wide assortment of individual bars to try, plus volume discounts for purchasing them by the box. Bars and cereals aren’t as protein-packed as shakes, though, so explore the health food section of your local grocer too.
The next place to check is a health food store which will definitely supply tablets and drink mixes plus bars and cereals. These shops and bulk stores sometimes sell powders in bins; you just scoop out the amount you want and try a little or a lot. Canisters are better value than little sachets, but they cost $25 and up most of the time which is a lot to pay for a first try. Go for the trial size or a little scoop.
Gyms also carry these products along with BCAAs and other related products for bodybuilders and athletes. The last place to look, though probably the cheapest, is online. Some outlets provide coupon codes and big discounts for bulk orders.