What you need to know about supplemental protein
Protein powder has become very popular. But with so many options available, which one should you be using? Stephanie Peterson, RD, shared what to know when choosing your supplemental protein.
The importance of supplemental protein. Protein is an essential component of body tissues, including your hair, skin and nails. It is also a key player in maintaining muscle and losing fat during periods of weight loss. When paired with high carbohydrate foods, it can slow digestion and help prevent drastic spikes in blood sugars that would usually result from high sugar foods. Generally, for weight management, it is recommended that individuals aim for 80–90 grams of protein daily from diet and supplements combined.
Not all supplements are created equal. The quality of your protein supplement is very important. The best absorbed form of protein will be an isolate, as opposed to a concentrate. Look for products that are primarily whey protein isolate or soy protein isolate. Sugar and fat content is also important. Avoid any supplements that have any variety of oil in the ingredients and choose products with 0 grams of added sugars on the nutrition label.
Meal replacement shakes are not equal to protein supplements. Meal replacements shakes are usually higher in calories, fat and carbohydrates than protein shakes. They often will also have much lower protein content. Both shakes serve a purpose, but for weight loss, protein shakes will be much more beneficial. Drinking meal replacement shakes instead of protein supplements may halt weight loss if that is your goal. Look for products with labels that say “high protein” or “max protein” instead of “meal replacement” or “nutritional shake.” Spending a few extra moments choosing the right supplement can make all the difference.
If you are in doubt about whether your supplement is right for you, please reach out to a registered dietitian.
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