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Thinking of buying protein powder for muscle strength? Rely on this guide to make the right choice

Published on:18 September 2020, 17:07pm IST
Gym rats around you sipping on all these protein supplements? Fret not, we’re here to tell you what’s best for you!
Sonakshi Kohli
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There’s a sea of protein supplements out there. We tell you what’s best. Image: Shutterstock
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If you’re looking to tone your body and gain some muscle, most people will advise you to go for body-building supplements. Well, that’s really not an issue. The problem is you really don’t know what to pick, because there’s a sea of protein supplements out there. 

However, we’re here to make your life easier, and that’s why we have Parmeet Kaur, head dietician, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram, who will tell you all about the three most common types of protein supplements i.e. casein, whey protein, and amino acids to tell you which you should choose.    

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Casein
Casein is a natural protein, and is found in cow milk. In fact, approximately 82% of milk protein is casein and the remaining 18% is serum, or whey protein. It is classified as a phosphoprotein, as it contains phosphorus.

Benefits: “Adding casein to your diet along with reduction in the intake of carbohydrates can help you shed weight and gain lean muscle mass,” she says. 

How much casein do you need? “If a person leads a sedentary lifestyle, then he/she requires 0.8 g of casein per kilogram of his/her body weight. In the case of a person with an active lifestyle, casein requirement ranges from 1.5-2.2g per kg of body weight,” she adds. 

How should you consume it? Kaur suggests consuming a casein supplement along with plain water, soups, juice, or milk. This is only if you’re not able to meet the requirement of casein through natural sources such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese; or also if you indulge in heavy training/physical activity. 

Side effects: Casein overdose can trigger acne, allergies, digestive and respiratory issues. 

signs of protein deficiency
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Whey protein
Whey protein is again a milk-based protein, and makes up to 20% of cow milk protein content. It is obtained by isolating certain proteins from whey, the liquid part of the milk that gets separated during the production of cheese. Besides, it is made up of albumins, globulins, and enzymes.

Benefits: Whey protein boasts a host of essential amino acids, which can be absorbed easily by the body. In fact, several studies have confirmed whey to help in increasing strength, gaining muscle, and losing significant amounts of body fat. 

Additionally, the globulins in whey protein have antimicrobial properties, and help in the circulation and absorption of important nutrients like vitamin A, which further helps in the circulation and absorption of iron. It can also boost your mental health, cardiac function and immunity.

How much whey protein do you need? “The whey intake completely depends on an individual’s age, medical conditions and physical activity levels. If a person leads a sedentary lifestyle, then the requirement is 0.9 g / kg body weight. But in case of a moderately active and vigorous lifestyle, protein requirements range from 1.4 g-2.1g/ kg body weight,” says Kaur.

How should you consume it? Whey protein powder can be consumed along with plain water, soups, juices, or milk, just like casein. This, too, is recommended for people, who are either unable to meet their daily requirements through natural plant and animal sources, or those who indulge in heavy physical activities.

Side-effects: Digestive issues (nausea, gas formation, loose stools) , headaches, and muscular cramps are some of the side effects of overconsumption of whey protein. 

Also, read: Sure, meal replacers can help you lose weight. But are they healthy? Let’s find out

Amino acids
Amino acids are fundamental units of protein and help to carry out vital functions in the body. They are broadly classified into essential and non-essential amino acids, and there are 20 varieties of amino acids in all.

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Non-essential amino acids are synthesised in our body and essential amino acids are required to be incorporated externally through food sources such as meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, quinoa, whole grains, etc.

Also, read: I went on a protein-heavy diet and here’s why I don’t recommend it

Amino acids are also present in both whey protein and casein supplements. However, taking them directly ensures quick absorption of amino acids in the body. 

Benefits: Amino acids are building blocks of protein, and can help you build muscle. It can also help you improve your hair, skin and nail quality, according to Kaur. 

How much of it do you need? “The recommended daily intake per kg of body weight for essential amino acids ranges from 14-42 mg,” says Kaur. 

How should you consume it?  Just like other supplements, the powdered form can be consumed with water. Essential amino acids can also be consumed through natural food sources such as meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. 

Side effects: Toxicity, compromised appetite and growth are some of the side-effects of overconsumption of essential amino acids according to Kaur.

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So, what’s the difference?
According to Kaur, the three protein supplements differ in the following ways:

  • Casein and whey protein are milk proteins, but amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  
  • The body takes longer to digest casein, as compared to whey. Whey is digested faster by the body and helps in gaining muscle mass. Amino acids are responsible for physiological and cellular functioning in the body.

The final word…
Ladies, it’s always better to get your nutritional requirements met naturally through your diet. So, consume various protein-rich foods including eggs, meat, fish, poultry, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and lentils. 

However, if you’re into hardcore workouts, get some advice from a fitness expert before you start consuming these supplements.

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Sonakshi Kohli Sonakshi Kohli

Twenty kilos down and struggling to maintain the weight loss by preaching healthy eating, while eating unhealthy every now and then.