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Home > Health Information > Preventative Care > Weight Management/Protein > Importance of Protein Powder

Protein Powder FAQ

Q: Does the body really need protein?

A: Yes, because protein performs essential functions that keep us in optimal health. For example, proteins facilitate cellular repair. They also help build muscles and bones, keeping them strong. Proteins are also excellent sources of energy, and they help boost metabolism.

Q: What's in protein that it can do all those functions?

A: Protein contains amino acids. You have two kinds of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that we get from eating certain foods - which means that essential amino acids are formed through the diet. The other type, non-essential amino acids, are those that are synthesized by the body.

Q: I have heard people talk of whey proteins but never understood how they work and what they do.

A: When you hear the words "whey protein" next time, think "milk." This clues you into the fact that whey proteins are dairy proteins and are packed with good nutrition. Milk, for example, contains casein and whey protein. When farmers make cheese, they separate the curd or casein from the liquid whey. When whey proteins are separated from the liquid whey, they are converted into whey protein concentrations.

We learned that whole milk is about 87% water and 13% solids. Fat, proteins, lactose and ash minerals constitute milk solids. In milk protein, you have whey protein (20%) and casein (80%).

Q: Since whey protein comes from dairy products, is it correct to assume that they're created equal?

A: Not quite. Not all whey protein is the same because the quality of whey protein supplements depends on where the milk comes from, how it was manufactured, what type of cheese was made, and what standards and specifications were used by the manufacturer.

Q: If the body needs protein, how much protein are we talking about?

A: The answer depends on your weight and how physically active you are. There are protein calculators online that you can use. If you're taking medication or if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, speak to your physician about your daily protein requirements. Our advice is if you consume a lot of protein, drink plenty of water - at least 6-8 glasses per day - so you don't get dehydrated.

Q: Why do we have to get our protein from whey protein? Can't we get all our protein requirements from meat and chicken?

A: Yes, meat and chicken and other foods are excellent sources of protein, but remember that whey protein is an all-in-one protein of the highest quality. Because of this, you're sure that you're also getting the essential amino acids your body needs.

There are various ways of assessing the quality of protein, but regardless of what method is used, it is a generally accepted fact that whey protein is an excellent and unadulterated source of protein.

PDCAAS is the acronym for "Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score." This score is 1.14, and it is the same scoring tool that is officially used by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure protein quality.

We also have the PER - Protein Efficiency Ratio. This is another method to assess protein quality. If this method is used, whey protein has a score of 3.2. This makes it one of the highest sources of protein. This score is based on animal growth; that is, based on animals that take in a fixed amount of dietary protein from only one source. The higher the PER, the higher the protein quality is.

Yet another way of evaluating protein quality is the BV - biological value. It refers to the amount of protein that is retained from that portion of the protein that is absorbed to promote growth and development. It takes into account the nitrogen content in the diet that is left after it is converted into waste product. The biological value of whey proteins is 100, a value that's higher than milk protein (casein), soy protein, or wheat gluten.

Q: Why do athletes and regular exercisers take whey protein?

A: Because of their constant need for energy and building muscle. Whey protein has long been recognized as an excellent source of energy, thanks to its essential amino acids. People who exercise vigorously run the risk of depleting their energy reserves because the amino acids are at work during movement. Muscles are especially susceptible to fatigue and whey protein prevents the onset of fatigue. The common practice is for athletes to consume about half of their whey protein before a period of heavy exercise and then take the other half after their workouts. This way, lean muscles and tissues are not compromised.

Q: How about the role of whey protein in weight loss?

A: Because high quality whey protein contains less fat, it can be consumed without fear of gaining weight. The media once featured a series of articles saying that drinking milk is one solution to maintaining a healthy weight. This applies to whey protein, given that whey protein is a dairy product. It decreases the amount of fat while it increases muscle mass. Whey protein is also said to increase CCK levels in the intestinal tract. CCK is a substance that suppresses appetite. This is why it's important to match your intake of whey protein with the degree of your activity level.

Q: Can vegetarians take whey protein?

A: If one's vegetarian diet allows dairy products like lacto-ovo and other ovo type vegetarian diets, then yes, vegetarians can take whey protein. The thing to remember is that whey protein comes from the milk of the cow, and not from animal fat.

Q: Will I experience side effects after taking whey protein?

A: No. But if you have any allergies to dairy and milk products, you may want to consult your doctor before taking any whey protein supplements. If you are lactose intolerant, you may want to try only a small amount first to see if you have any reaction.

Q: My sister is pregnant and is thinking of taking whey protein. Is it safe for her to do so?

A: Because whey protein is pure protein, it should be safe for pregnant women as well as for children, provided that they have no dairy allergies. Whey protein's second most abundant component is lactalbumin, the protein often present in human breast milk. Milk formulas for infants normally contain whey protein. But do consult your doctor if you're pregnant and thinking of taking whey protein.

Q: I have a difficult time digesting certain foods. Will I have a hard time digesting whey protein?

A: No. Whey protein is soluble and easily digestible. This is why it is also present in infant formula.


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