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6 evidence-based health benefits of protein powder

Protein shakes can play a crucial role in your pursuit of a healthier, happier you.

Protein Powder: Evidence-Based Health Benefits | Juniper

It's official — protein powder isn't just for bodybuilders. In recent years, protein supplements have taken the world by storm, becoming a staple in many people's diets. But what's all the hype about, and are protein shakes really worth adding to your daily routine? We're here to break it down for you.

In this article, we'll explore the evidence-backed health benefits of protein powder that go beyond just building muscle. Whether you're a gym enthusiast or simply looking to boost your overall well-being, you might be surprised at the advantages protein supplements can offer.

So, let's dive in and discover how protein shakes can play a crucial role in your pursuit of a healthier, happier you.

How much protein do I need per day?

The amount of protein you need per day will depend on your age, sex, weight, activity level, and overall health goals.

As a general rule, men require more protein per day than women do. To calculate your specific protein needs, the British Nutrition Foundation recommends having 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day [1].

If you're new to protein powders and find it all a bit overwhelming, Juniper's Weight Reset Programme can be a great place to start.

It offers an individual approach to both long-term, sustainable weight loss and fitness and, along the way, you'll have access to UK clinicians, nurses, pharmacists, health coaches and dietitians.

What is protein powder?

Protein powder is a dietary supplement people use to increase their daily protein intake. Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle growth and repair, immune system support, enzyme production, and the synthesis of hormones and other molecules.

Protein powders are often consumed in protein shakes, smoothies, or baked goods like pancakes, muffins, or energy bars.

It's important to follow the recommended serving sizes, and not rely solely on protein powders for your nutritional needs. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of healthy, protein-rich foods is generally recommended for overall health.

Different types of protein powder

There are many different types of protein powders on the market, which are derived from different proteins. These include:

Whey protein supplements

Whey protein is derived from milk and is one of the most popular and easily absorbed forms of protein. It is rich in essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for muscle recovery and growth after a workout [2].

Casein protein

Like whey, casein is also derived from milk, but it is digested more slowly. This slow digestion can provide a steady release of amino acids into the bloodstream over an extended period, which can be beneficial for some individuals, particularly before bedtime [3].

Pea protein

Pea protein is one of the most popular plant-based protein powders. It's made from yellow split peas and is a favourite for vegans and those on a vegetarian diet.

It is easily digestible and suitable for those with dairy or soy allergies and has been found to be a comparable, plant-based alternative to whey protein [4].

Rice protein

Rice protein supplements are derived from brown rice. While it technically contains all the essential amino acids, it's quite low in lysine and not regarded as a complete protein [5]. Often, you'll find rice protein combined with other protein sources.

Hemp protein

Hemp protein is made from hemp seeds and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and essential amino acids. It's a good option for those looking for a plant-based protein source, but like rice protein, it is low in lysine and not considered a complete protein [5].

Which type of protein is best?

The best type of protein will always depend on your health goals, as well as specific dietary restrictions or allergies you may have. Each protein has its own unique characteristics and benefits, but generally, whey protein powder is generally considered the best of the milk proteins.

If losing weight and building muscle is your goal, whey proteins are one of the best options [7]. Whey protein is a high-quality protein that absorbs in the body quickly, which can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This means you'll be able to recover from workouts faster, and as a result, can build muscle mass while reducing fat mass [8][9].

What are the benefits of protein powder?

Incorporating protein powder into a healthy diet of whole foods can offer many benefits and support your overall health, fitness, and wellness goals. Some of the benefits of protein supplements include:

1. Weight and belly fat loss

Protein powder can help you achieve your weight and belly fat loss goals, as it can increase feelings of fullness and reduce appetite [6]. Protein triggers the release of hormones that signal your brain that you're full, which can help you eat fewer calories.

Additionally, protein powder can help reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks, and promote better food choices in your diet. In turn, this can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

2. Lean muscle growth and healthy metabolism

Protein powder promotes muscle growth, which is essential for anyone engaged in resistance training or looking to build and maintain lean body mass [10].

A higher muscle mass can also contribute to a higher resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories at rest. This can help with weight management and overall metabolic health.

3. Muscle mass preservation

Protein powder is also crucial for preserving muscle mass, especially if you're on a reduced-calorie diet [6]. When you're in a calorie deficit, your body may break down muscle tissue for energy, so getting enough protein is crucial. Consuming a high-protein diet helps prevent muscle loss and maintain strength and overall physical function.

4. Overall bone health

Protein also plays a role in maintaining bone health [11]. Adequate protein intake is necessary for the production of collagen, which is a major component of bones. Protein supplements can help support bone health, particularly when combined with calcium and vitamin D.

5. Healthy hair and skin

Protein is essential for the formation of keratin, a protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. Insufficient protein intake can lead to hair thinning, brittle nails, and poor skin health [12].

Protein powder can help you meet your daily protein requirements and support the health and appearance of your hair and skin.

6. Decreased hunger and appetite

Protein is well-known for its appetite-suppressing properties, as it triggers the release of hormones that signal fullness to your brain [13]. Reduced hunger, fewer cravings, and less food noise can make it easier to stick to a calorie-controlled diet.

Protein powder can help you feel satisfied for longer, and potentially lead to reduced overall calorie intake.

Can I take protein powder every day?

Yes, you can add protein powder to your everyday diet. Protein powder is a convenient way to supplement your daily protein intake, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, it's important to follow the recommended dietary allowance or consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietician for specific guidance. It's also important to stay hydrated, as protein requires water to aid the digestive process.

It's also a good idea to vary your protein sources to ensure a diverse nutrient intake. Other convenient protein sources include lean meats, fish, poultry, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

How long does protein powder last?

The shelf life of protein powder will vary depending on several factors. Typically, unopened protein powder can remain suitable for consumption for years. Once opened, it's generally recommended to use your protein powder within 6-12 months.

To maximise the shelf life of protein powder, it's important to store it correctly. Keep it in its original, airtight container, or transfer it to an airtight container if the original packaging is not resealable. Store it in a cool, dry place, away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight.

How to use protein powder

There are several ways to incorporate protein powders into your daily routine. One of the most popular ways is to make a protein shake or smoothie, with added fruits and vegetables.

Other options are to sprinkle protein powder over oatmeal, cereal or yoghurt. It can also be added to pancake and waffle batter, and used in recipes for muffins, protein bars, and energy balls.

Are there any side effects of protein powder?

Protein powder is generally considered safe when used as directed. However, like any supplement or food, there can be potential side effects, including digestive issues, dehydration, nutrient imbalances, interactions with some medications, and in cases of long-term, excessive protein intake, kidney strain.

Weight gain is another potential side effect of too much protein powder, which is why it's important to follow the recommended dietary intake on the label.

If you're concerned about side effects or experience persistent side effects, it's best to consult a healthcare provider or registered dietitian.

Choosing the right protein powder

Whey protein is a great way to add extra protein to your diet. If you're interested in seeing how whey protein supplementation could help you reach your weight loss and overall fitness goals, we recommend trying Juniper's Nourish Shakes.

Our Nourish Shakes are packed with high-quality ingredients and contain the nutritional benefits of a balanced meal. They're designed to help you build lean muscle mass while reducing your total fat mass.

There are so many protein supplements and shakes on the market, and not all protein shakes are built equally. That's why Juniper's protein shakes are packed only with the highest quality ingredients. With 20 minerals and nutrients, every shake contains more than 40% of your daily vitamin needs for immunity and overall health.

They're low in calories, but high in protein, fibre, and pre and probiotics. That means they're easy on your digestive system, with none of the added sugar, laxatives, or preservatives found in other powders.