With our ever-growing awareness and interest in our wellbeing, health, and fitness, the supplement world has exploded. Pre and post-workout supplements are among some of the best selling on the market with protein powder being one the highest in demand, but do we really need it, or are we just falling foul of clever marketing?
What is protein powder?
Protein powder is one of the most well-known workout supplements. Protein powder is what it sounds like. Protein in powder form. It is derived from plants, but that’s not to say all protein powders are created equal. Some protein powders contain artificial sweeteners, additives, and thickeners. These protein powders can be surprisingly high in calories and sugars and, when combined with a glass of milk, could give you a very calorific drink. If you choose to go down the protein powder route, then examining the ingredient list is always worth it. As is buying your powders from a reputable nutrition store, and if you are unsure, then just ask.
Why do you need protein?
Whether in powder form or directly from your food, protein is an essential part of your daily diet. Protein can be found in every cell in your body, so it is needed to grow, repair, and create new cells. It is also essential for the growth and repair of our muscles, whether you are seeking to build them up or not. However, it is often for this reason that many people will have a protein shake after their workout. Even if you are not looking to become a bodybuilder, the more active you are the more protein you will need.
So, do you need protein powder after a workout?
While the more you train, the more protein you are likely to need, it does not mean you need to get that protein from powders. Protein can be found naturally in our food, and more often than not, eating a varied, nutritious diet will contain ample amounts of protein to refuel and repair those tired muscles. For example, the average sedentary female needs 45 grams of protein daily, and a chicken breast contains 38g, 30g of cheese equates to 9g, and 200ml of skimmed milk contains 7grams. It is easy to see how a moderately active person could eat sufficient protein to allow the muscles to grow and repair sufficiently to support your workout and active lifestyle.
However, that is not to say that protein powder doesn’t have its place. Theoretically, you might be able to obtain sufficient amounts of protein from a varied diet but that doesn’t mean you have the time or the inclination. Furthermore, if you are working out daily or undertaking strenuous exercise, your body will need even more protein to keep it performing at the level you need it to. If you seek to build muscle mass and increase strength, you will also require more protein to enable your body to do so, which is where the shakes come in.
One of the great things about protein powder is that it is a quick and easy way to up your protein intake without spending hours in the kitchen. Protein shakes can give you anything from 10 – 30g of protein per drink. Whether you opt for a premade shake or buy it in powder form, it is ready in minutes. Not to mention it can be a delicious post-workout treat. A quick Google search of protein shake recipes will return any number of recipe inspiration to spice up your protein shake.
If you are short on time, short on culinary skills, or a stocked fridge, if you lead an active lifestyle or have just overdone it at body pump, chances are you will benefit from a protein powder post-workout. While getting the required amount of protein from our food is certainly possible, it is not always realistic. You may not need a protein shake every day or after every workout unless, of course, you want it, but they certainly have their place as a post-workout drink.