With all of the hype around, only the rare bodybuilder would not know about natural protein powders. The makers of these products promise consumers they will build bigger muscles if they drink these powders and workout as usual. In fact, they might work out better, for longer, and feel better afterwards. Here is the “scoop” on these powders.
Natural Versus Unnatural
How can there be a organic protein powder? Food doesn’t come in powdered form; not steak anyway. Ah, but elements of foods can be extracted and reduced to a powder, and this is done all the time in labs around the country. Calcium, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and other nutrients are frequently delivered as powders. Okay, with minerals it’s easy to see how that might be. Fish oil is an oil inserted into a capsule, though, so once again: how can protein become a powder? It depends on the origins of the protein.
The most popular and highest-quality protein available currently, at least as far as efficacy goes, is whey. This is a milk by-product. You have seen powdered milk before; it’s just the solids of milk allowed to dry and then ground to a fine powder. When mixed with water, one can have 1%, 2%, 4%, or however much milk he or she wishes.
People do this with eggs too. They cook and dry the eggs; grind and store them. Powdered egg is sold in grocery stores all over the world as a less-perishable version of fresh eggs; great for adventurers who need to carry light, nutritious stores of food on long hikes far from grocery stores.
Plant proteins are easily converted to powders since many of them are ground for use in regular daily life. People do this with nuts and grains all the time. It is no stretch to imagine soy, barley, or quinoa processed for use as a powder. This is all still natural, although the quality of each source is a matter of contention.
GMO and Pesticides
Many plants are sprayed to prevent pests from eating them. We eat these pesticides much of the time too unless we buy products that are labeled “not sprayed” or “no pesticides.” That’s great, but do we want to eat GMO foods which are developed to resist pests without the use of pesticides? Probably not. No one knows for sure what these foods are doing to us, but genetic modification is definitely unnatural.
Organic farming methods allow dairy farmers to ensure the grass their cows eat is free from sprays. They can also guarantee that cows were not fed unnecessary medications and supplements like steroids, hormones, and antibiotics. Only sick cows need drugs. Chronically sick cows should not be producing the milk from which whey powder is derived. Again, reading labels is important.
Most soy is treated for pesticides or genetically modified. That’s one of the reasons soy proteins are often overlooked by health food writers and stores. They prefer Paleo sources such as beef from which protein can be extracted and turned into a powder, but it’s not the usual method. Other Paleo sources of proteins include some plants and nuts. Pea protein is popular with vegans who also prefer to avoid grains. It gets complicated in the lab, but developers of these products are learning to make shake powder that one simply scoops into water and shakes up in a sealed cup to create a thick drink without lumps. It’s amazing, and they taste better all the time.
Controversy about protein powders and supplements arises whenever another successful MMA fighter, football player, or baseball star is suspended and fined for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. These are steroids, plain and simple; not mere food supplements. Steroids are banned for a number of reasons. They give competitors an unfair advantage in their respective sports by causing muscles to grow more quickly than normal. They are also dangerous, sometimes causing sickness in the organs and heart problems as well. At the very least, most men and women who use steroid supplements eventually notice changes to their bodies, such as hair in unwanted places.
Protein powders are not necessarily steroid supplements, but read labels. If they are produced by companies known for their other natural, healthy living products, you’re probably safe. When you buy from firms specializing in athletic supplements, exercise caution.
Success with Natural Protein?
Will protein powder really make a man or woman bulkier in all the right places? That’s the question on many athletes’ lips. They don’t believe natural foods can have the impact of a steroid. At the other end of the argument, dietitians believe that simply eating a balanced diet with additional protein is good enough; cheaper and healthier than buying powders. Makers of these products might not argue with you, but they would say this.
Firstly, eating enough protein takes a lot of chewing, and it’s time-consuming to count the grams. Cooking meals to revolve around protein and eating it all the time becomes a chore. Making and drinking a shake takes minutes. It’s easy, just like buying granola bars is easier than making your own. The market manufacturers are going for here is the busy, serious bodybuilder who is counting his protein to the last gram.
Steroids are more effective: true. In the short term, if you don’t get caught, they make muscles grow huge. On the down side, there is a price to pay later on. For men, this is often the growth of “man-boobs.” Heart or liver failure aren’t unheard of either.
Protein powder can naturally stimulate muscle growth so that the serious athlete becomes stronger in less time than someone trying to eat enough steak, eggs, chicken, or nuts. It’s a bit costly, but various formulas are designed to do more than build muscle; they support muscle recovery and prevent the body from eating its own muscle for energy (catabolism). Natural Protein powders contribute to improved focus, stamina, and moods. They are easy to carry around with an empty water bottle. Fill up at the water fountain, scoop some powder in, consume an adequate number of calories from protein, and re-hydrate at the same time.