Even for the most health conscious people, balancing a healthy and nutritive diet along with today’s fast-paced lifestyle is a daunting task. Many of us are not even aware that probably the diet regime that we are following is not fulfilling our daily requirements. Finding the time, or even the motivation, to maintain a healthy diet may seem near impossible. In such circumstances, supplementing your diet with the adequate amount of nutrition is no brainer!
Step into Health section of a shopping mall and you’re likely to see stacks of protein-packed powders and bars, often accompanied by pictures of people with action-figure bodies. In the past few years, protein supplements have been one of the hottest topics in nutrition. According to its proponents, they can help with everything from weight loss to muscle building to improved performance. So what is the truth about the claim for protein supplements?
What are Protein Supplements?
Protein is one of the three essential components of the human diet, along with carbohydrates and fats. It provides the raw material for muscle construction and repair. A supplement is any addition to a diet to achieve a particular nutritional goal. Protein Supplements are available in fluid, powder, and solid food formulations. There are different types of protein supplements available in the market like:
- Whey Protein is the most commonly used type of protein which is derived from Milk and is absorbed by the body very quickly.
- Soy Protein contains all essential amino acids, and is an alternative protein for vegetarians.
- Egg White Protein is recognized by bodybuilders and nutritionists as a highly superior source of protein
Protein Supplements, apart from protein source, also contains:
- Multi-vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B, etc.
- Minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, etc.
- Some herbs which vary from product to product but may contain ginseng, spirulina (sea plant protein), some spices like cinnamon, vanilla, etc.
- Some stabilizers, preservatives and antioxidants.
Who should use protein supplements?
It is for people who need extra protein because their daily requirements are not met by their regular diet. People like body builders, hostlers, people who do not eat well (and subsist on fast food or junk food). Even women during pregnancy or lactation require some extra amount of protein to ensure that all their bodily processes are working fine.
Who “shouldn’t” use these supplements?
Any person who is eating healthy and balanced diet from natural sources and does not require any extra proteins should not prefer them. People who have a history of dairy, soy or whey protein allergy should not go for any dosage of protein. Also, people who have a weak kidney or digestive disorder or a very weak liver should refrain from them.
Are these harmful to my body?
A little extra protein for most people won’t do much harm, so feel free to have a protein bar now and then. But you definitely can’t overdo it. According to a report, a protein overload can cause stomach trouble, dehydration, gout, and calcium loss, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
Which one should I have?
All proteins essentially breakdown to the same kind of amino acids, but different proteins have different structures and affect different people differently.
- Whey protein may benefit a B positive or an AB positive blood group better.
- A soy protein supplement may benefit A positive and a B positive more.
- An egg protein may show better results in an O positive person.
How should I consume it?
One can have a protein supplement in the form of a milk shake, lassi shake or mixed in juice or simply mixed with water. One can drink it once or twice a day before meals or simply as a meal substitution.
The most important aspect of a supplement is that one should constantly monitor body response. If the body gives a positive response then one can continue but in cases where the body displays negative one (gas, bloating, cramps, heaviness or water retention, headaches, a light rash), it is best to discontinue. Also, while it is theoretically better to stick to fresh, natural foods, supplement taken daily will do no harm as long as it is not in addition to your regular food intake – remember, our bodies store any extra calories as fat!