Protein powders can provide an excellent source of protein in our diets. If you are a conscious eater attempting to balance healthy carbs, proteins and fats at each meal, you are probably aware that finding lean sources of protein can sometimes be challenging. This is especially true if you are a vegan, a vegetarian or a pesco-vegetarian (consume fish, eggs and dairy).
Protein is essential for immunity, for maintaining healthy body composition, for blood sugar balance, for tissue healing and repair, for muscle growth and for the production of hormones, chemical messengers and digestive enzymes in the body.
How Much Protein Should You Eat?
Without getting too technical and avoiding the need to weigh or measure your foods, use these simple guidelines.
- Include a serving of protein the size of your palm with each meal, three times a day.
• Include a serving of half of your palm size with each snack, twice a day.
• If reading labels, the typical male should have 35 grams to 40 grams per meal and 15 grams to 20 grams per snack. Women should consume 25 grams to 30 grams per meal and 15 grams per snack.
Protein-Rich Foods Protein
5 oz steak, cooked 35
5 oz roasted chicken 43
5 oz tuna 43
1 egg 6
1/2 cup edamame 15
2 slices of cheese (low-fat is best) 14
1 cup tempeh 31
1 cup cooked broccoli 5
1 cup beans (legumes) 15
*Individuals with kidney disease should consult their physician for proper protein requirements.
I often see vegetarians or vegans in my office displaying symptoms of insufficient protein because they have not made a conscious effort to properly combine proteins or simply have not consumed enough protein to meet their daily requirements. Signs of insufficient protein include poor wound healing, dry skin, hair loss, gas and bloating, poor digestion, frequent colds and flus, prolonged soreness after exercise, mood swings, insomnia and depression.
Without protein, your body cannot properly make collagen to heal the skin; serotonin, dopamine and melatonin to boost mood and improve sleep, growth hormone for repair of body tissues and to slow down aging, digestive enzymes to prevent bloating and indigestion and antibodies to prevent infection.
Protein Powder Options
Since you require protein with every meal and snack, finding readily available sources can be challenging. Protein powders are a useful option. You can choose whey, bean or rice protein powder options. The benefits of these alternatives are outlined below.
Whey is fantastic for fat loss, building muscle and boosting our fat-burning hormones. It is also rich in the antioxidant glutathione, aids immunity and supports the removal of harmful heavy metals. Whey protein isolate has been found to increase metabolic rate, aid liver cell function, reduce the amount of fat stored in liver cells (otherwise called fatty liver disease) and improve biomarkers for type 2 diabetes, including improved blood sugars and insulin sensitivity.
According to a study published in the September 2010 British Journal of Nutrition, wonderful whey protein isolate renders a powerful effect on body composition, lipids, insulin and glucose in overweight and obese individuals. Researchers found that subjects using a whey isolate (versus a mixed or casein protein powder) experienced a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol over 12 weeks. Fasting insulin levels were also significantly decreased in the whey group compared to their counterparts. Another April 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when whey protein is ingested before a meal, it reduces the overall food intake as well as pre and post meal satiety. This is a big reason why I tend to recommend whey protein in your mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. This little secret will reduce your appetite at lunch and dinner. Not only this, it also lowers post-meal glucose and insulin response.
Your whey protein smoothie is not only quick, easy and tasty and also an important part of your insulin sensitivity plan. Available in powder form, whey protein isolate is simple to mix into smoothies and is easily absorbed by the body. Just be sure to choose a product free of artificial sweeteners and sugar. I have spent a lot of time researching and tasting whey proteins and feel confident that the ones we sell at Clear Medicine are the best. For a list click here.
Rice or Bean Protein
Rice or bean protein powders are a good choice for individuals with intolerance or sensitivity to dairy (whey protein is made from dairy) or to soy. I find the most common complaint with these products is the taste as they are grittier than whey protein.
Powders can be added to smoothies, yogurt, baked goods and even oatmeal. Always buy protein powders that are free of sugars and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. For a list of vegan powders, we sell at Clear Medicine click here.