The Importance of Protein for Athletes

Protein is an important macronutrient needed by the body. Without it or the lack of it, can result to irritability, hair loss, muscle weakness. If you are an athlete or a fitness enthusiast, protein can help repair your muscles. During prolonged high intensity or strenuous activities like exercise, the muscles, particularly the small filaments that aids in muscle contraction, is strained and microscopically damaged. The body then sends out essential nutrients like protein for growth and recovery.

Protein from food can meet your body’s required protein intake. But if you are busy and don’t have the luxury to calculate every gram of protein that you eat, getting muscle meals to supplement like protein powder can solve your dilemma. Many bodybuilders, gym-goers, and athletes such as football players use it because of convenience and versatility. But what are protein powders exactly?

Protein powder is basically a dietary supplement that can be made from whey, rice, soy or eggs. It has a high concentration of protein, which is in powdered form. A variety of flavors are available. The most common are strawberry and chocolate. Protein powder is usually mixed with water, but it can also be mixed with milk or fruit juice. In liquid form, the protein supplement is referred to as protein shake.

Protein powder provides a number of advantages for athletes and fitness buffs. Some of its benefits are better weight management, faster recovery and muscle gain. The intake of protein shake can also aid in weight loss. In a recent study, experts reveal that obese women lost 10% of their body weight after a 16-week trial of consuming prepackaged entrée, fruits and vegetables and three protein shakes per day. Participants also lost 20% of body fat.

Here are common types of protein powder.

Whey – this is the most basic and most popular protein powder because it is inexpensive and can be used as a pre or post-workout drink. Derived from milk, it contains two components – 80% casein and 20% whey. This protein supplement is available as whey concentrate and whey isolate. The concentrate has a low lactose level while the latter is fat-free.

Casein – Casein is also made from milk. The difference is it provides your body with a steady and slow stream of amino acids that can last for several hours.  This means that it increases protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown. Experts recommend drinking casein before you go to sleep.

Soy – This type of protein powder is derived from soybeans. It promotes bone health, boosts the immune system and even prevents heart diseases.

Rice – It is a plant-based protein powder that is getting more popular because it is gluten-free and easy to digest. Aside from protein, you will also get fiber and vitamin B. The downside is that rice protein is low in amino acids. It is advisable to have other protein sources.

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