Protein powder is an important part of healthy aging and this Protein Powder Guide for Beginners will help you understand the What, When, Why and How of protein powder!
Protein powder is taking over entire isles at the grocery store but should you be using it? Protein powder is even showing up in fast food restaurants and popular coffee shops as they offer protein smoothies and shakes, but does this mean they are healthy? How does Protein Powder help you slow aging?
If you’re new to the idea of adding protein powder to your diet, this Protein Powder Guide for Beginners will help you understand what’s available and why it might be right for you.
Protein Powder Guide for Beginners
What is Protein Powder?
Protein Powder is a concentrated protein in powder form, often sold in tubs with a 20-30 gram scoop serving size. This Protein Powder Guide for Beginners will give an overview of the different types of protein powders, but you can find more in-depth information about vegan protein powders here and about whey protein powders here.
Whey & Casein
Popular concentrated protein powders derived from milk products are whey protein and casein protein. Whey is a fast acting protein so your body absorbs the amino acids quickly and can utilize the nutrients right away to repair muscle after exercise. Casein, the slower digesting milk protein, likes to linger so it helps to preserve muscle. Both are animal protein and contain high levels of all 9 essential amino acids for healthy muscles and slowing age-related muscle loss.
Protein Powders can also be concentrated from plant source such as soy, pea, hemp and brown rice.
Pea Protein is made from yellow peas and is a popular natural plant-based protein. It is high in branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) and gluten free, lactose free and dairy free for easy digestion.
Soy Protein is another plant based protein that contains the essential amino acids however it can be highly processed and some research has linked over consumption of soy to increased risks of certain diseases.
Hemp Protein is unique in that it offers omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids which can reduce inflammation and is high in fiber with 8 grams of fiber in an average 30 gr scoop of hemp protein powder. It is lower in leucine (the amino acid credited with muscle building & repair that helps slow muscle loss as we age) and most other essential amino acids than pea and brown rice protein though.
Brown Rice Protein is lower in the amino acid lysine, but is high in all other amino acids which makes it a great source of vegan protein. Combining brown rice protein with pea protein, however, has been shown to provide all nine essential amino acids and provide the most concentrated protein per gram comparable to whey protein.
Both plant and animal sources of protein are important, however single vegetable proteins—soy, hemp, rice and pea—on their own are incomplete, as they don’t contain all 9 of the amino acids that make up a complete protein. The best vegan protein powder options are combinations, such as pea and brown rice, which gives you the most complete protein option. And as always, a variety in your diet of plant proteins (beans, nuts, vegetables) and animal proteins (eggs, lean meat, fish) is important for overall health as you age.
A good quality powder will also include other vitamins and minerals, such as leucine (for muscle repair and growth) and B vitamins (for energy). Mixed with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and seeds and you’ve got an all round vitamin packed snack or drink for healthy eating and healthy aging.
Why is Protein Powder Important?
If you take anything away from this Protein Powder Guide for Beginners it is that protein powder is not just for bodybuilders anymore. New research is showing that a higher intake of protein is important in your aging years (40s, 50s,60s and more) and in helping patients recover faster from illness or surgery. A high quality protein powder can ensure you are getting all essential amino acids.
- Amino acids Leucine helps repair & build muscle after exercise
- It also has a long term effect of slowing age-related muscle loss regardless of activity level
- Protein can help you lose weight, by keeping you full longer and providing energy
As we age we slowly loose muscle. Subtle at first, this muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) can begin in your 40’s with about 1% muscle loss per year and becomes more consequential as you age, impacting your daily physical function and independence. Mobility, falls, osteoporosis, fractures as well as diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and metabolic syndrome can all be associated with sarcopenia. Ensuring you are getting at least 20 grams of protein at every meal and with snacks will help slow this part of the aging process, allowing you to stay stronger longer.
When Should You Use Protein Powder?
- A protein smoothie can ensure you are meeting your daily protein requirement – see this chart.
- As a meal replacement if you are in a hurry or on the go.
- Post workout to repair muscle damage caused by exercise.
- Post surgery to help with preserving muscle when you can’t be active.
- Recovering from illness if appetite has not fully returned
How Do You Use Protein Powder?
The most common way to enjoy protein powder is in a protein smoothie or protein shake. The difference being a protein shake is made with milk or water in a shaker cup with a scoop of protein and you shake & enjoy. A protein smoothie includes fruit, seeds and sometimes greens in a blender to make it a ‘smoothie’!
Lots of fun, easy and great tasting smoothie recipes can be found here for our Boomer Nutrition ENERGY Whey Protein and here for our Boomer Nutrition Organic Vegan Protein Powder.
If you’re looking to lose weight and / or gain energy, having a morning smoothie, or including protein powder in your pancakes, are great ways to get a boost with breakfast!
Adding protein powder to your baking provides on the go snacks that will boost your protein, making these protein puddings provides healthy dessert options while these protein waffles and these super easy 3 ingredient protein pancakes makes a high protein breakfast a breeze.