5 Biggest Benefits of Taking a Natural Protein Supplement
Protein is one of the most abundantly used nutrients in the body. Everything in your body uses protein for the most part and without it, our hearts would wither and we simply wouldn’t be able to function.
For most people 50g of protein a day is sufficient to meet your needs, but if you work out or have a physical job, you’re going to need more – calculate your recommended protein intake here. Building muscle, repairing damage and growing hair and nails all require adequate protein intake, and if you don’t want to eat a ton of steak or fish, there’s got to be an alternative, right?
Luckily there are plenty of natural protein supplements available to help bolster your nutritional deficit of protein. Most come in the form of powders, and they’ve come a long way from the chalky texture and unpleasant taste of 20 years past. Protein supplements now are made with whey, peas, rice and many other bases that fit your particular dietary needs.
Vegetarian, vegan or omnivore, there is a natural protein powder for you. We will examine how useful protein supplements are for daily life – particularly the benefits of whey protein powders – and what other benefits there might be to including them in your diet.
1. Protein is muscle promoting
Many people are afraid of getting bulky with muscle if they start eating too much protein and exercising, but let’s put that fear to bed first. The only way you’ll get huge and muscular from drinking protein powder is if you’re taking in thousands of excess calories a day while lifting weights like the Rock. With that said, however, some additional muscle added to your frame will be noticeable in the sense that it will improve your physique.
Having more muscle means your metabolism is higher, as muscle takes more calories to maintain than fat does. Muscle makes you more resilient to injury and bone breaks, which is always good. Finally, having more muscle and taking in more protein can help combat fractures that are consistent with osteoporosis in people of advanced age.
Exercise is important no matter how old you are, and getting sufficient protein to repair your muscles is critical. A natural protein supplement is an easy way to get that additional protein and pump those muscles up, if just a little.
2. Whey helps regulate blood pressure
Dairy products in general have been linked to improved blood pressure, but whey is rich in ACE-inhibitor peptides. These lactokinins are shown to reduce blood pressure when ingested regularly. Though you could get them from other dairy sources, whey is so nutritionally dense that it’s a perfect source for these additional benefits.
There are several studies linking the supplementation of whey protein in particular to reduced blood pressure in patients with clinically high blood pressure. Interestingly enough, however, is that blood pressure only went down in patients with high blood pressure, not in those with pressures in a healthy range.
This is good news for anyone wanting to start adding protein supplements to their diet but who might be afraid of it lowering their blood pressure too much. It seems to only help balance out hypertension, rather than just lowering BP a blanket amount.
3. Protein supplements help you lose weight
Protein takes a long time to digest, and it requires a lot of energy. Roughly 25% of the energy stored in protein is necessary for your body to digest it, and since it processes so slowly, it keeps you full for a long time. In fact, starting your day with a low carb, high protein meal like a protein smoothie or eggs will charge your metabolism without a subsequent crash later on in the morning.
If you’re in a caloric deficit, it’s important to get enough protein to maintain the muscle you have and build more muscle if you’re working out. Getting enough protein daily is critical to this, as we spoke about before that more muscle means more metabolism. Losing muscle while trying to lose weight is absolutely the worst thing you can do and a natural protein supplement can help meet daily protein needs during times of caloric deficit.
It also appears that whey protein in particular is appetite suppressing. This additional benefit to the natural satiating properties of protein can go a long way in preventing overeating. Finally, people who participate in activities that are perceived as healthy – like supplementing protein, taking vitamins and exercising – are more likely to avoid things that run counter to these practices.
4. Protein can help reduce inflammation
In addition to improving vascular health and lowering blood pressure, protein seems to have a beneficial effect on systemic inflammation that can affect cardiovascular health (among other things). The primary reason seems to be that the antioxidant glutathione is created by the body but needs a high amount of cysteine to be manufactured in sufficient quantities. Discover the top 4 causes of inflammation in the body and how to avoid them.
Foods that are high in cysteine like whey protein can increase the amount of glutathione your body can create. This increase in antioxidants lowers the oxidative stress on endothelial cells in your veins and arteries, relaxing them and helping to reduce the damage they take from inflammatory foods and metabolic states like diabetes.
5. Protein supplements can improve diabetes symptoms
Protein supplements can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation and improve blood markers for cholesterol, and improving all of these things is highly correlated with improving the outlook of type 2 diabetes sufferers. Since diabetes is a disease of overabundant blood glucose, this leads to many of the conditions associated with it, including:
- Systemic inflammation
- High blood sugar and blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
Regular use of a protein supplement can improve your fasting blood glucose by virtue of how long it takes to digest. This releases a steady amount of protein and keeps your blood sugar balanced, preventing a crash and the out-of-control hunger that follows a rise in blood sugar.
Whey protein itself seems to have a beneficial effect on blood glucose as well.
What to look for in a protein supplement
The primary benefits – besides the ones listed above – of a protein supplement are ease of use and nutrition. Even someone with none of the afflictions we talked about can benefit from a protein powder, even if it just replaces a meal.
A well-formulated protein powder will have a natural protein, ideally non-sugar sweeteners like Stevia and additional nutrition added. Things like fibre, vitamin and mineral complexes or superfood additions all improve the quality of a natural protein powder.
You want one that is low in sugar, high in protein, with healthy fats, if any.
Are protein supplements worth it?
Supplementing your diet with protein powders is absolutely worth it. You can find affordable, tasty and well-formulated protein supplements all over. With adequate added nutritional benefits, you can replace meals and stay satiated for hours.
The added health benefits of these supplements – from weight loss to metabolic balance – cannot be ignored and have been studied more than just about any other supplement available.