Most athletes and fitness enthusiasts regularly consume some type of protein supplement in order to help repair damaged tissue. Protein powders added to shakes are commonly consumed as a quick, low calorie, healthy way to obtain the required protein after a workout.
While there is nothing wrong with this practice, you have to be aware of what you are purchasing because not all protein powders are created equally. In this article, I outline what to consider when purchasing a protein powder.
Protein powders are relatively expensive, so you want to ensure that you are getting the best quality product you can. Unfortunately many of the brands for sale are loaded with fillers, sugars and artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame K. If you’ve read my article series on sugar, then you already know the negative impacts of sugar and artificial sweeteners so obviously these unnecessary ingredients aren’t what you want to be consuming when you are trying to eat clean and healthy.
Now you may be thinking that the immediate post-workout is the most ideal time to consume sugar or any high glycemic food – and that is true because during the so-called ‘anabolic window’ (up to 30 minutes post-workout) your body requires a quick replenishment of glycogen stores. However I feel that you can obtain sugar in a more healthful way by consuming whole foods such as high GI (glycemic index) fruits (e.g. pineapples and dates) rather than refined white sugar or artificial sweeteners (which do not even serve the purpose of post-workout sugar consumption). I also prefer to have the decision whether I want to add sweetener or not especially since sometimes I enjoy my protein powder in a breakfast smoothie before I have had a workout.
You also need to consider the quality of the protein used to make the protein powder you are purchasing. Do you know the source of your protein? Does the company have strict manufacturing processes and subject their product to independent third party testing of ingredients?
You want to ensure that the protein you ingest does not contain any impurities, meaning it was produced from healthy, grass-fed cattle that are free from any growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and toxic metals. Grass-fed cattle produce a higher quality protein powder that contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in organic free range grass-fed cattle. CLA is derived from Omega 6 and regulates how the body stores and utilizes fat. It has also been touted as defending against cancer. If your protein powder doesn’t indicate that it is sourced from grass-fed cattle then it’s not.
Although higher quality protein powders cost more, I feel it’s worth it. Especially if you are consuming them on a regular basis. So the next time you go to purchase your protein powder, take a closer look at the ingredient list so you can be sure you are buying a quality product.
To fitness with love,
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