Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet and body. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight or just be healthy, solid protein intake is something that will help fuel your body.
A common misconception that people who are just beginning their workout journey make is that protein powder is a necessity. While it does contain ingredients that will help fuel your body and produce results, there are other alternatives to it.
These alternatives include meals with whole foods like eggs, chicken, fish, nuts and so much more. These are natural sources of protein and can be lower in calories than a protein shake.
Athletes and people who regularly use the gym tend to use protein powder for its convenience and extra protein.
This is the case for junior communications major Ryan Smith, who uses protein powder as soon as possible after a workout.
“It’s a really easy way to get some quick protein in me,” he said. “I try to drink a shake in the 30 minutes after I get back from a workout just to meet the anabolic window.”
The anabolic window refers to the short amount of time between finishing exercising and consuming a “post-workout meal.”
According to the anabolic state theory, the anabolic window lasts up to 30 minutes after a workout is completed, and protein intake is critical in this frame to increase protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown.
Smith uses Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard protein because of the flavor, convenience and benefits that it provides. Optimum Nutrition sells their powder in different sized packages and in different flavors including vanilla and chocolate.
“I usually add a splash of milk and a banana for a quick shake, but sometimes add frozen fruit and other things for more of a meal,” he added.
While some people get their protein through the high packed powders that are available in most retail stores, meals that contain high levels of protein will provide the same amount of fuel for the body.
Smith said he tries his best to make as many high protein meals as possible, but sometimes it’s easier to make a quick protein shake to meet the requirements.
A possible problem with protein powder is the fact that, as mentioned, people only need less than a gram of protein per pound of body weight. A normal scoop of protein powder can provide around 20 grams of protein, which could lead to unnecessary calories.
Sophomore journalism major Aaron Arnstein does not use protein powder, but instead substitutes it with whole food alternatives.
Arnstein regularly eats black bean burgers and chickpeas to meet his protein goals and has never seen the hype surrounding powder.
“My dad is a huge fan of protein powder but I don’t really get it,” he said. “I would rather just eat food instead of protein shakes.”
Substituting protein powder for natural ingredients like greek yogurt or peanut butter could be a healthier alternative to strictly relying on powder, according to dietitian Amy Gorin.
Gorin urges people to look at the ingredients on their supplements before using them, because some powders contain high sodium and cholesterol.
“You can easily get the same amount of protein from whole foods and healthy recipes,” she said.
While protein intake is crucial to maintaining a healthy body, protein powder may not be the only answer.