In the world of supplements, protein powder is a very popular and formerly debated cornerstone. The qualities and effects of these proteins are always under close scrutiny. In this article, we will examine the properties and possible contraindications of protein supplements in order to identify the most effective ones.
- The Functions and Importance of Protein Powder
- Identifying the Best Protein Powder
- Biological Value B.V.
- Amino acid profile
- Flavourings, Sweeteners, Sodium
- Side Effects and Conclusions
The Functions and Importance of Protein Powder
Proteins are vital elements for our body, present in tissues such as bones, skin, hair and muscles. They are involved in the synthesis of hormones and the activation of crucial enzymes. Proteins are composed of amino acids, building blocks that can be produced by the body or absorbed through food, and are essential for the creation of protein units essential for health.
When the body requires more protein, protein supplements can be useful. These formulations separate the protein fraction from other components present in food. Protein powders provide the body with essential amino acids for protein synthesis, promoting the utilisation of endogenous proteins and activating catabolic processes for protein regeneration.
Protein powders are particularly popular among individuals who exercise, such as bodybuilders and weightlifters. These proteins support increased muscle mass, especially when taken after training, when muscles need nutrients for rebuilding. Furthermore, when combined with a proper diet, they can support weight loss and prevent muscle mass loss after the age of 60.
Identifying the Best Protein Powder
Various types of protein powder can be distinguished according to:
- The source from which they are extracted;
- The digestion and absorption times that indicate the best time for intake;
- The technological processes used to produce them and thus their protein density (percentage).
Protein supplements in powder form can be subdivided into:
- Whey protein: obtained by curdling milk, they are rich in protein, amino acids and may contain cholesterol, fat and lactose. Processes such as microfiltration and ionic extraction make it possible to obtain concentrated, isolated or hydrolysed proteins, the latter having a lower content of undesirable elements, such as cholesterol and lactose.
- Egg protein: contains a broad amino acid spectrum and delays gastric emptying.
- Soy protein: isolated, they are sources of glutamine and branched-chain amino acids, recommended especially during muscle definition.
- Beef Protein: Less popular than the others, Beef Protein powder is an amino acid-rich, low-fat and low-carbohydrate protein source. Undergoing a hydrolysis process, they are easily digestible and contain no cholesterol (unlike solid foods) or sugar.
It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of protein supplements by considering parameters such as biological value, amino acid profile and the presence of fillers, sweeteners and flavourings.
Biological Value B.V.
The biological value, expressed numerically, takes into account the quantity, quality and ratio of essential amino acids. It identifies the effect of protein on protein synthesis, considering the nitrogen assimilated by the body.
Amino acid profile
The amino acid profile reveals the quality of a supplement. Some manufacturers may add amino acids to increase the protein quota, a practice called ‘protein spiking’, a dilution of total protein using cheap amino acids.
Fillers improve solubility and flavour, but excessive doses can reduce quality. Thickeners and carbohydrate compounds reduce the ‘purity’ of the supplement.
Flavourings, Sweeteners, Sodium
Excessive sodium causes water retention. Sweeteners and flavourings improve taste, but some can cause discomfort. Natural sweeteners such as sucralose are preferable.
Side Effects and Conclusions
Protein powders are not harmful if consumed correctly. They can cause unwanted effects from intolerances or altered microbiota. It is essential to choose supplements with high protein concentrations and free of additives. Recommended doses are around 25-30 grams to maximise protein synthesis and maintain muscle mass.
Whey protein powder is an economical and environmentally friendly option (it re-uses a waste product from dairy production, whey) for those wishing to increase their protein quota.
Ultimately, to find effective and safe protein powders, consider the biological value, amino acid profile and added ingredients. Always read the label before use and, if necessary, consult experts for appropriate dosages, especially in the presence of specific disorders. Don’t rely on ‘make do’ manufacturers!