Thursday, September 22, 2011

Protein = The Secret to Weight Loss and Muscle Recovery!

When it comes to building healthy lean muscle, many athletes swear by whey protein. And, we know that building muscles contributes to a better metabolism which will help rid ourselves of unnecessary fat what can we easily do to promote this? Protein...its such a simple little additive that it just makes sense for anyone, and not just serious athletes! Your body needs protein to build muscle, and protein is an essential component of every cell, tissue and organ in your body. When you eat protein, it is broken down into amino acids. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids:
  • our bodies can make 11 amino acids naturally, without the assistance of ingested protein
  • the other 9 amino acids are called essential amino acids because we must ingest them
Animal proteins (e.g. whey protein) are complete, because they contain all 9 essential amino acids, while most vegetable proteins are incomplete, because they do not contain all 9 essential amino acids. Soy protein is the one vegetable protein that does contain all of these essential amino acids.

But, there are so many protein supplements on the market...and I'd just like to share what I've discovered in my search for what to search for and what to avoid. A few months ago, I mistakenly believed that I should simply look at the grams of protein per serving, and the calorie content of a serving. I was, in essence, trying to find the most protein grams for the least amount of calories. While this is still true now, my requirements for a protein powder are much more stringent now.

There are a ton of "types" of protein out there, but the most accessible ones (in protein powders) are the following:
  • soy protein isolate/concentrate - Quite simply, almost all soy out in the US market is a GMO (genetically-modified organism). It is cheap, controlled by Monsanto (and you don't want to get me started about the evils of this company) and no GMO is good for you. Besides the social commentary, soy protein has historically been shown to not reach the muscle as quickly as whey protein....and there is that sweet zone after exercising when you need to get protein to your muscle asap in order to aid the rebuilding process. While non-GMO soy protein isn't a bad thing, if you are doing it to aid muscle growth after exercise, its simply not going to get there in time to aid recovery.
  • whey protein isolate - While they are extremely pure forms of protein, they are over-processed. We've read countless news articles these days about over-processing our food and how it leads to negative health issues, so why would we choose to do this with our protein? To separate the full whey from the isolate, they are exposed to acid processing. And regardless, your body has issues assimilating proteins in this isolated form, as it needs the other why cofactors to properly digest anyways.
  • whey protein concentrate - This has all the benefits of whey protein isolate, but its not been overly processed and stripped of all of its natural immune-boosting co-factors (alpha lactoglobulins and lactoferrins).
Note: whey isolate usually contains between 90-94% protein while whey concentrate has a protein ratio of 70-85%. So while concentrate has slightly less protein grams than isolate, the other benefits should be considered. And, by reviewing the nutrition label, you can easily determine how many overall protein grams are in the serving anyways.
I've also been sticking to the "no artificial sweetener" rule of our household. It was hard to identify all the HFCS in the house, but we finally managed to rid ourselves of it completely...and I'm hardly going to allow it back in the form of a healthful ingredient such as protein powder!

So, where does that leave me? I've gone through a lot of different protein powders in the last 6 months, and the following two top my requirements:
  • Mercola Pure Protein Powder - Love the ingredient list here, but the taste is just ok.
  • Beachbody Whey Protein Powder - Love the fact that its just protein concentrate, and naturally-sweetened and still low in sugar, and the taste is excellent...I never thought that I'd like a vanilla-flavored anything.

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