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Protein supplements have experienced a significant rise in popularity over recent years. This rise, however, goes well beyond the realm of gyms and workout environments. Protein supplements and supplements have become commonplace across various corners of society and are now readily available in supermarkets and pharmacies throughout Australia.
Despite their growing prominence and popularity, a level of confusion still surrounds their function, purpose, and overall health benefits. Within this article, we will outline that protein supplements are more than a way to build muscle. Read on to find out why.
The Three Major Forms of Protein
Before we venture too far into their benefits and nutritional value, it is important to establish that the protein supplements sold on shelves come in various forms. The three major styles include
- Protein Concentrates (60—80% protein composition – mixed with 20-40% fat and carbohydrates)
- Protein Isolates (90-95% protein composition – less fat and carbohydrates)
- Protein Hydrolysates (Amino acids and peptide composite – absorbed more quickly)
All three common powders are the result of concentrated protein extracted from flora and fauna. These days, protein compounds are mixed with a wide variety of ingredients for the purpose of flavoring.
Of course, one of the leading motivations behind protein consumption is to build and retain muscle. Once exclusive to the world of bodybuilding, regular gymgoers across Australia now utilize protein before, after, and during their workout.
So, why are they considered so effective in these circumstances?
As workouts place our muscles under serious stress and strain, wear and tear will naturally follow. Protein supplements counteract this process to repair muscle. In turn, this process works to build and consolidate muscle mass post-workout. Amino acids are the core element that facilitates this effect. When released into your bloodstream, these acids both repair muscle tissue and actively accelerate muscle growth.
More than Muscle
Protein supplements are widely associated with avid gymgoers and fitness aficionados, but this does not mean they don’t have other applications. In fact, protein supplements are commonly consumed for the following purposes
- Injury recovery and rehab
- Weight loss
- Building bone density
Protein supplements are also common for individuals that require dietary substitutes or targeted nutritional support. These products may be recommended by a GP, a specialist, a dietician, or a chemist.
Not all protein supplements are sold to offer the same nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, flavored varieties may be loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, rendering their consumption detrimental to your health. Effectively, this follows a similar pattern found in flavored waters, fruit juices, and kombucha – where excess sugar and preservatives outweigh the advertised nutritional value of core ingredients.
If this is a concern for you, there are a variety of channels to explore. One of the best options at your disposal is to visit a healthcare product supplier, rather than reaching for the first product on the supermarket shelves. This will ensure that you receive protein supplements with high nutritional value and content.
Common Protein Powder Styles
Protein supplements are not all the same. In fact, the spectrum of powders includes a wide variety of different styles. Before you take the first option off the shelves, it is vital that you understand the fundamental ingredients of each. Anyone with food allergies and intolerances must take particular care.
Let’s delve into the major forms sold in Australia
Originating from milk, whey is the liquid separated from curds during cheesemaking. Of all the common varieties, whey contains one of the highest levels of protein content per gram – making it the most suitable alternative for gaining muscle mass. Those with lactose intolerance and sensitivity are advised to avoid whey protein supplements or consume them in small quantities.
This is another form sourced from cow milk. Unlike liquid whey, casein creates a gel-like substance when directly exposed to stomach acids. In general, casein is absorbed slower and therefore the best option to take before bed or sleep. These protein supplements are commonly associated with weight loss, improved digestion, and calorie restriction.
Egg white protein supplements are rising in popularity and prominence, due in large part to being an excellent source of quality protein. Egg-based protein supplements rate among the highest for digestibility. Supplements in this group provide all nine essential amino acids and are noted as the second-highest source of leucine.
As many of the popular variations contain animal products including milk, eggs and curds, pea proteins are a viable alternative for vegetarians and vegans. In addition, they are also great for those with lactose or egg intolerances. Analysis of the full effects of regular pea protein intake is not yet documented to the same level as whey and casein. However, pea protein supplements are particularly rich in BCAAs.
5. Brown Rice
This is another area of promise, primarily due to the widely recognized health benefits of brown rice consumption. Overall, brown rice protein supplements are widely noted as being inferior to whey and casein for muscle growth and development. Further research, however, is required to determine the full capability of brown rice protein products. Watch this space.
While protein supplements have their advantages, they must be consumed within creatin parameters and quantities. Too much protein powder can seriously disrupt your digestive system and even bring about unwanted health concerns. As a guide, the industry recommendation is 0.8 grams per kilogram of your body weight.
Of course, guidelines for use are typically listed on the product’s container/packaging. Your dietician or doctor may also prescribe a set daily intake depending on your age, gender, weight, and general health.
Speak to a Dietician or Health Professional
From dietary assistance to muscle development, targeted protein supplement use brings an array of benefits. Speaking to a professional is an excellent way to find the best style for your needs. Remember, dietary needs differ from person to person and one protein supplement may not work for everyone.