By Ben Lewis , founder Pulsin www.pulsin.co.uk
Up until very recently protein powders were associated with hardcore bodybuilders, and understandably people were put off by the bulging biceps and rumors around steroids! However, times are changing fast, with protein powder usage becoming increasingly commonplace for men and women of all types including yogis, and accordingly the number of high protein products in market has increased substantially.
These types of health trends are often over-hyped by keen marketeers… so does this mean that high protein is the next health fad?
Firstly, let’s have a look at the science behind protein.
Protein is an essential part our diet and is needed every day for good health. It is necessary for regeneration and growth of the body, including hair, skin, nails and muscles, and to make essential components like enzymes, and hormones including insulin. In fact although we are surrounded by nitrogen in the air, protein is our only accessible source of nitrogen, which is essential in making DNA.
There are two major common benefits of consuming protein: improved muscle recovery times and increased satiety following a meal. This is why high protein diets are particularly popular with sportspeople and dieters alike, and are said to be perfect for active health enthusiasts who are generally looking to tone up and slim down.
Clearly we need adequate protein in our diets, but crucially how much do we need and how best to consume it?
Officially the UK Government recommends 50g per day for the average adult, or specifically 0.75 x your body weight in kg per day, for example 0.75 x 70kg = 52.5g per day. However almost all nutritionists would agree this level is the minimum daily intake, not the optimum, but where they might disagree is on exactly what is the optimum intake.
Generally nutritionists recommend a daily intake in the range of 1-2g protein per kg per day, which can be more precisely determined by your individual activity level and constitution.
Those who are active mainly with light exercise, for example yoga, running or swimming, would be fine consuming 1g per kg per day, whereas someone engaging in heavy lifting and more frequent training may need closer to 2g per kg per day. Daily intake needs to be spread throughout the day, as most research suggests the maximum intake per meal is around 25-30g.
Not every source of protein is equal, and it is in this area where protein powders are particularly important. Proteins can be compared both in terms of speeds of absorption (BV) and their amino acid composition or quality (PDCAAS). Under both metrics whey protein comes out top, which is why it has always been the preferred protein source for bodybuilders and top athletes: above eggs, meat and fish. Consuming whey protein within 30 minutes of training is widely regarded as the gold standard for optimising muscle recovery.
Increasing numbers of people are either intolerant or avoiding dairy products, and so there are now many dairy free protein sources available. Whilst these vegan proteins may offer slightly lower scores, the average person will probably not notice any difference in muscle recovery. Even for those of us who are happy to consume whey, the vegan protein powders can offer new and alternative methods for consuming protein. Many bloggers now post a huge range of protein powder recipes online, as an example see my super quick Pea Soup recipe below.
Pea Soup (serves 4)
500g frozen peas
2 tsp bouillon or stock powder
1 tsp sea salt
20g pea protein
Optional: turmeric to taste, fresh or ground
Cover the peas with boiling water and bring to the boil
Simmer gently then add the bouillon, salt and turmeric
Blend until smooth then add the pea protein
Blend again until the powder is fully dissolved
Nutritionists are becoming increasingly aware of the significant variances between individuals, and hence rejecting the “one-size-fits-all” approach to diet. I believe in discovering our own individual optimum diets through personal enquiry and experimentation; and that way you are guaranteed to avoid the fads!
Pulsin’ make premium products…naturally! They’ve created a range of award-winning gluten free, dairy free, vegan-friendly kids’ bars, protein bars, brownies and protein powders. So whether you’re looking for a protein boost for your baking, a snack to get you through your workout or a reduced sugar treat for your little ones – try their award-winning products.