How to use protein powder: Expert advice on types, timing and intake
7 mins read

How to use protein powder: Expert advice on types, timing and intake

If you exercise regularly, getting the optimal amount of protein in your diet is essential for muscle recovery. Protein is the building block of healthy muscles, and when we don't get enough of it, we can break down easily or struggle to build muscle tissue.

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or need a higher protein intake to reach your goals, adding protein powder to your diet is an easy, effective way to meet your daily intake goal. But what kind of powder should you buy, when should you take it, and how much do you need? what's here destiny moodyA registered dietitian-nutritionist and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) Top Nutrition CoachingHere's what to say about popular supplements.

different types of protein powders

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There are many types of protein powders.

There are many different protein sources to choose from, and which one you decide to take will depend on your dietary restrictions, needs, and preferences. The most popular option is whey isolate. This milk-based protein powder is quickly digested and contains most of the essential amino acids, meaning it will help with muscle recovery and prevent muscle breakdown. Moody recommends whey for people who can tolerate dairy.

Casein is another milk-based protein that is slow to digest, so it is not as important to consume during your workout, but it is great for controlling hunger between meals. You can also take casein before bed research shows It may help with muscle recovery by releasing amino acids while you sleep.

Rice and pea protein are common plant-based protein sources for vegans, lactose intolerant people, or those who prefer not to consume dairy. Moody suggests finding a plant-based source with a blend of rice and pea protein because they have a strong amino acid profile.

Although some plant-based proteins contain abundant amounts of amino acids, they may be incomplete, meaning they do not contain all nine essential amino acids. Whey and casein are both complete proteins, so this may be better suited for anyone concerned about getting all the essential aminos.

Schedule your protein intake

Previously, experts believed that users needed to consume protein within the anabolic window, a short period of 30 minutes after a workout. However, according to Moody, new studies show that this is no longer true.

“What we're finding is that it's more important that you meet your protein needs throughout the day and distribute it evenly,” says Moody.

If you don't spread out your intake, you risk becoming limited. protein synthesisAnd hence, your ability to gain and maintain muscle.

Although drinking a whey protein shake immediately after exercising is effective, consuming it later in the day will not impact the effort you put into your workout. In fact, increasing your protein intake throughout the day can lead to more significant and consistent muscle growth and recovery. For example, if one's protein intake is 120 grams per day, eating three meals with 40 grams each is the best way to optimize muscle growth.

Best Ways to Consume Protein Powder

Blueberry protein powder in blender, preparing smoothie, top view.  Fitness concept healthy eating, clean eating, sports lifestyle

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Add protein powder to your shake or smoothie.

how much protein powder to take

The amount of protein powder required will vary from person to person. But as a general rule, you should aim to get most of your protein from whole foods and use powders as supplements. Protein powders often have little nutritional value other than protein and are not suitable replacements for whole foods.

Cooking meals rich in proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates is a great way to ensure that you stay in good health overall. For example, salmon and flaxseeds contain omega-3s, edamame is a great source of fiber, and chicken and broccoli also provide calcium. Another good option is to make a meal replacement shake with fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates for a more robust nutrition profile.

Most recreational exercisers should not get more than 50 to 60 grams of protein from supplements. Of course, this may vary depending on each person's goals and activity level. For example, a professional bodybuilder may eat more protein powder than a runner.

How to eat or drink your protein

Moody suggests drinking your protein powder with milk, whether almond milk, whole milk, or whatever you prefer. Milk provides additional protein, and it mixes well with protein powders – especially whey and casein, as they are milk-based supplements.

Another way to consume protein powder is to mix it with foods like Greek yogurt, which provides probiotics and extra protein; oatmeal, which is rich in whole grains and carbohydrates; Or frozen bananas, which contain potassium and carbohydrates. Mixing your protein powder with food is a great way to optimize your macronutrient and micronutrient consumption.

Alternatives to normal protein powder

Not everyone likes to drink or eat sugary protein powder all the time. If that's your case, Moody recommends purchasing an unflavored protein powder and mixing it with soups, sauces, milk for your cereal, or whatever you prefer.

Bodybuilders looking to maximize their protein intake and calories in general may want to consider mass gainer shakes, which help you gain weight and, therefore, build more muscle. Although these shakes allow for rapid weight gain, they are loaded with maltodextrin, a cheap carbohydrate that does not provide much nutritional value. Moody suggests getting your calories from real food first, such as a jelly sandwich with peanut butter and a protein shake, before trying a mass gainer. If you want to try mass gainers, she recommends consulting a nutritionist to find the option best suited for your nutritional needs.

Will taking protein powder work for me?

Credit: Getty Images/Jawan Rodriguez

Protein powders are great for getting your daily protein.

If you want to increase your overall protein intake and are struggling to reach your daily goal, protein powder can work great for you. The key is to find a protein source that suits your needs, whether it's milk-based or vegan protein powder, and finding a way to consume it that works for you. Protein is essential to reaching your fitness goals, and adding protein powder to your diet can help you get there.

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