Is protein powder safe? What every athlete should know

Theres whey protein, soy protein, pea protein, and more. Do these protein powders legitimately help with weight loss and muscle building? We chatted with the panel of experts to find out.

What are the benefits of protein powder?
Heres how protein powders could aid weight loss and toning: Protein powders contain, well, protein. And everyone requires protein. How much depends on things like your gender, age, activity level and health. Someone who is regularly practice, whether its an activity like running or strength training( or both ), requires extra protein. Protein before a workout helps make amino acids available to your torso so it doesnt use the protein in your muscles to fuel a workout and protein post workout helps repair damage to your muscles that occurred during the course of its workout, helping to prevent injury and also helping to construct those muscles bigger and stronger.

But does that protein need to come from a powder, versus a meat? Nope. Protein powder doesnt have any magical powers when it comes to weight loss or muscle building, Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, a registered yoga educator and inventor of the couples nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials, told Fox News.


But it can make it easier to get the proper quantity of protein for people who need extra, like jocks, or who have dietary regulations, like vegetarians or vegans. I am a adherent! Tara Collingwood , MS, RDN, team dietitian for Orlando Magic and official nutritionist for runDisney, told Fox News. I like the versatility of protein powders and the fact that you can get so much protein at one time.

Can using protein powders genuinely help you lose weight? And build muscle?
The science is slim when it comes to connecting protein powders and weight loss, Angie Asche, MS, RD, a sports nutritionist and proprietor of Eleat Sport Nutrition , told Fox News. If weight loss results after someone begins using a protein powder as a snack substitution, it would more likely be the outcome of an overall reduced calorie intake, she said.

On the other hand, there is science to connect protein powders with muscle building. Most protein powders whether milk, whey, or flower based are considered complete proteins, Asche said. This entails protein powders typically contain all the essential amino acids your torso needs to mend tissues, and build and maintain muscle mass. And complete proteins contain branched-chain amino acids( BCAAs ), which work to help gasoline working muscles, encourage protein synthesis, and promote muscle recuperation, Asche said.


Much of that research is tied to whey protein powders. I typically recommend whey-based protein powders to my patrons, especially athletes, because research shows they are most effective for replenishing tired muscles, Collingwood said.

Is protein powder risky?
Protein in excess of what your torso needs isnt automatically stored as muscle. It might be stored as fat. In addition, too much protein throws strain on the kidneys, can lead to dehydration, bloating, nausea, osteoporosis, and more, Collingwood said.

And, of course, protein powder on its own is not a snack. Blend it with a carbohydrate like oats, a healthy fat like peanut butter, and a fruit or vegetable for a balanced snack. Mix the powders into smoothies, flapjack mixes, oatmeal and more, Collingwood said.

And while its not a risk, protein powder is processed. If you want fewer processed foods in their own lives, then try to get all of your protein through natural food sources, Collingwood said. Try eggs, chicken breast, salmon, milk and more. You can also construct your own protein powder from whole parts like dry milk powder, oats, and almonds try this Homemade Protein Powder recipe from Serena Ball, MS, RD, co-owner of Teaspoon of Spice .

How do you choose a safe protein powder?
All protein powders are not created equal. A big reason: Supplements such as protein powders do not involve FDA approval for marketing. Because of this, they may contain less protein, more carbohydrate, and differing quantities of other parts versus what they label asserts. You run into the risk of not actually knowing what youre consuming, Asche said. Look for one thats NSF Certified for Sport, which entails a product has undergone third-party testing to assure that whats listed on the package is actually in the product. Even if you arent an athlete, I still highly recommend striving out a protein powder with this certification because its gone through rigorous testing to insure it is legit, Asche said.

Amy Gorin is freelance novelist and proprietor of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. Connect with her on Facebook , Instagram , Twitter , and Pinterest .

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