Blame it on celebrities and their influence or a general shift in focus towards personal health and wellbeing, protein supplements once exclusive to serious bodybuilders and health fanatics have become part of day-to-day conversations. Everyone from the Bollywood stars you follow to your gym instructor will have a favourite, and with a wide range of whey-based and other protein powders available today, it is often daunting to pick out one that fits the bill for you. Do you really even need a protein supplement? Well, the answer is yes, even if you don t work out regularly.
Proteins are important
Proteins are the building blocks of almost everything in your body muscles, bones, skin, hair, blood and brain cells and made up of strings of compounds called amino acids. Unfortunately with our erratic schedules and diet habits, we often don t get the amount of protein required for the upkeep of our bodies. Here is where protein powders play a pivotal role. Not only will they fill in the gap in your daily protein requirement, they are also great meal replacements, keeping you full for longer, and preventing that unnecessary binge.
Whey vs plant-based protein powders
If you’ve been in the market for protein supplements, the most common categories you must have come across are whey, and plant protein powders. Plant-based protein is protein derived from plants, some of these sources being peas, brown rice, hemp, sunflower and soy. On the other hand, whey protein is derived from milk,” says celebrity trainer, Namrata Purohit. “Protein powders in general are good for people who do not get their protein naturally. The advantage of plant based protein powder is that it is hypoallergenic, so it is rare for people to react badly to them. Whey protein comes from milk so it contains lactose, that sometimes be hard for some people to digest it comfortably.
Rashi Chowdhary, nutritionist and founder of Protein Bake Shop, too, feels plant-based supplements are better for people with dietary restrictions. More and more people are sensitive to genetically modified soy and grains. Lactose and soy from whey protein powders generally tend to bloat people. Some also have a negative response where inflammation in the gut can also cause skin acne. Those who are prone to this, will benefit from plant protein powders.” One thing to keep in mind if you’re on a weight loss diet, she says, is the amount of carbs in the supplement. “If you are looking to burn fat, try finding a vegan protein powder that has less than 10 grams of carbs, because most of them have over 20 grams from peas, brown rice.
How to include protein supplements in your daily diet
Have you always been averse to the idea of having a protein shake? There are many interesting ways to include plant-based proteins in your diet. Try chia pudding with protein powder. Or blend it with a banana and peanut butter and make popsicles out of it. You can also add 1/2 scoop to your almond milk and dunk in some granola for breakfast, says Chowdhary.
The best time to have protein supplements
That you need to have your protein supplements only immediately after your workout is a big myth. Your body can either be in the fight and flight mode, or rest and digest mode (parasympathetic or sympathetic phase). We absorb nutrients best when we are in the rest and digest state, which happen only 30 minutes after a workout. So, if you are looking to gain muscle, have your shake 30 minutes after, when your body is not wired, says Chowdhary.
Looking to add one to your daily diet? Scroll through our slideshow for an edit of some of the best protein powders in the market right now.
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