Two of the most frequent questions that I get asked on social media are “Do I need to take protein powders?” and .. “Which protein powder is best?”.
.. I therefore decided to film a video talking through the basics of protein and protein powders which you can watch on my YouTube Channel or below. I really hope you find the video and this blog post useful and it answers your questions.. if not do leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading 🙂
- Where does Protein fit in to a Healthy Balanced Diet?
A healthy & balanced diet is essential for health, and an easy way of ensuring a healthy balanced diet is to fill 1/3 of your plate with low GI (glycaemic index) or wholegrain carbs e.g. oats, wholemeal pasta, basmati rice, sweet potato or quinoa for B vitamins, energy and insoluble fibre, 1/3 with vegetables, fruit or salad for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and soluble fibre and a 1/3 with lean protein e.g. fish, chicken, eggs or lentils, which are the building blocks of your body. And yes, you can still have your “treats’’, everything is allowed in the 80:20 rule, think moderation not deprivation!
Protein is essential for growth and repair, and if you’re working out then your protein needs will be increased. This is because exercise increases protein turn-over, i.e. the rate at which your body breaks down protein (catabolism) and rebuilds it (synthesis). Protein requirements range from 0.8-2g/Kg of body weight a day, with the higher amounts applying to those who are strength training and trying to gain muscle mass. You should aim to take onboard at least 20g of protein after a workout, which is the equivalent of: 75g chicken breast/beef; 1/2 tin tuna/salmon; 100g turkey; 150g cottage cheese; a pint of milk; 3 eggs or a protein shake or protein bar.
Failure to meet your daily protein needs could result in protein (muscle) loss, even if you are working out. Muscle loss can also occur if you’re trying to lose weight and do not take on board a sufficient amount of protein. A recent study actually showed that individuals needed twice the recommended daily intake of protein to prevent muscle loss whilst losing weight/eating an energy deficit diet i.e. 1.6g of protein per Kg of body weight a day.
In addition, protein increases satiety (keeping you fuller for longer) and contributes to a healthy immune system – an inadequate protein intake can lead to the depletion of immune cells and the inability of the body to make antibodies (which fight infection).
- What about Protein Supplements?
Food always comes first in my opinion, and if you’re meeting your daily protein needs through your diet already then you don’t need a protein supplement. If not though, protein shakes or bars can be a convenient, low calorie and low volume way of helping one to achieve daily protein needs, and they can make a super tasty and healthy snack for ‘on the go’ or in-between meals. Some people like to use protein powders as a meal replacement however as they are not fortified I would suggest adding fruit, leafy greens such as spinach and milk to them to make them more nutrient dense.. Purition are however a company who produce meal replacement shakes as well as protein supplements.
I personally use a a whey protein from MyProtein because a) I think it’s value for money and b) I LOVE the range of flavours!!
P.S I use [this blender] which I have reviewed [here] to make all of my protein smoothies!!
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Hi, can I ask whether you should go for whey isolate or whey concentrate? (Gym/increasing muscle mass purposes). Thanks.
This article is good for that! http://tidd.ly/fe762ce6
Ahhh thank you Nic! I was about to Tweet you and ask this exact thing. I’m about to seriously step up with the fitness (as soon as the gym opens it’ll be more so) and was totally clueless as to what to do with protein powders and have been hunting the net for advice.
Will definitely invest in some ASAP 🙂
Glad to be of help!! xx
I’m not sure whether I am being active enough to warrant having extra protein in my diet through protien bars and shakes. I’ve recently started cycling to work (4.5 miles each way) and find that my muscles are a little achey by the end of the week (there are a few hills along the way!). However I’m not doing any strength training exerciese such as lifting weights. Do you think it would be beneficial to up my protein intake to help my leg muscles recover and strengthen? If so, would 2 – 3 protein bars a week do the trick?
Love your blog by the way – It’s really helped me understand the basics of nutrition and the foundation of leading a healthy lifestyle 🙂
Hi Hannah! Aw thank you! I would say (and this isn’t personal advice as I don’t know you!) but track your food intake for a week on myfitnesspal and if you’re having around 1-1.6g protein per Kg of body weight a day then you are probably having enough!! Nic x
I love the Impact Whey Protein from Myprotein; such great value and I’m so glad they’ve introduced some flavours with stevia instead of sucralose. I’ve been enjoying the Stevia Chocolate Mint powder with hot almond milk to keep me warm here in Austria, and the Stevia Vanilla flavour works greatin baked oats.
Ooh they sound gorgeous!! I just bought their rocky road one.. omg it’s so good!!! xx
Which is best for weight loss being used as a meal replacement?
Hi nic! Just wondering if protein powders are actually ‘healthy’ I find they taste quite artificial and therefore always feel they may not be the best thing for me but I may be come rely wrong ! About to purchase some of the protein works whey concentrate and I’m just wondering is this a good choice/ nice taste etc if you’ve ever tried them. Thanks a mill
Hello! I personally use Protein Dynamix.. read this blog post before you buy though 🙂 http://nicsnutrition.com/about-whey-protein/