Protein powder is considered the most widely used supplement in sports nutrition. Most commonly associated with strength, speed and power athletes, protein shakes are now used in endurance-based sports too. This is because protein has been shown, through thousands of scientific studies and through independent research, to contribute to both the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. This is why athlete’s cupboards all over the world contain protein powder.

If you go to a gym, you’ve probably heard the guys by the weight machines talking about the protein shakes they drink after a workout and what kind of shake they prefer. Protein powders — made into a shake or consumed however you like — are getting more and more popular as a nutritional supplement.

But are protein powders just for bodybuilders, or can the average everyday athlete benefit from them as well?

What Are Protein Powders?

Protein powders come in various forms. The three common ones are whey, soy, and casein protein. “Whey is the most commonly used, because it’s a water-soluble milk protein,” says Peter Horvath, PhD, associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “It’s also a complete protein, so it’s got all those advantages.” (Complete proteins contain all nine of the amino acids necessary for human dietary needs.) People who are vegan may prefer soy protein, although Horvath notes that its taste is sometimes considered to be more unpleasant, and it doesn’t dissolve as well in water.

Protein powders also come with widely varying price tags. “For the casual athlete who doesn’t have a specific need at a certain time of their training, the cost is not that important,” says Horvath. “So if you’re going to use them, you can get pretty much the same benefit out of the less expensive, more commercially available proteins.

In very specific circumstances, protein powders can be extremely useful. “They’re an easy and convenient source of complete, high-quality protein,” says Carole Conn, PhD, associate professor of nutrition at the University of New Mexico. But remember: Most people, even athletes, can also get everything they offer by eating sources of lean protein like meat, fish, chicken, and dairy products.

So when might you want to use them? There are a few reasons why an ordinary athlete might want more protein in his or her diet, says Barbara Lewin, a dietitian and sports nutritionist who has worked with NFL, NBA, and NHL athletes and trained Ironman competitors:

When you’re growing: A teenager needs more protein to fuel his workouts because his body is still growing and uses more protein in general.
When you’re starting a program: If working out is new to you and you’re trying to build muscle, you’ll require more protein than you normally would.
When you’re amping up your workouts: If you normally work out for half an hour a few times a week, but now you’ve decide to train for a half-marathon, your body will need more protein.
When you’re recovering from an injury: Athletes with sports injuries frequently need more protein to help them heal.
If you’re going vegan: People who pursue a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle eliminate a number of common protein sources from their diet, including meat, chicken, and fish, and sometimes dairy and eggs as well.

How much protein should I have daily?
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to consume .5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight depending on your activity level and goals.

Does protein improve athletic performance?
Yes! However, it is an indirect link. Protein helps build muscle and strength, and athletic performance in a variety of sports is often linked to muscle and strength. By consuming a diet high in protein as well as complex carbohydrates, you can help ensure that you will be ready to perform – no matter what the sport.

Is it better to have Pure Protein products before or after I work out?
Pure Protein products are versatile enough to be used before or after a workout. Some people prefer to have a protein bar approximately an hour before a workout in order to provide carbs and protein for energy and muscle support. A bar or shake after a workout can help replenish spent energy and help the recovery process.

Are Pure Protein products suitable on a paleo diet?
Certain individuals looking to incorporate aspects of a Paleo-like diet may prefer the 23g protein or 35g Pure Protein Shakes as these are high in protein and have a few grams of carbohydrates. There are also various Pure Protein powders with similar nutritional profiles. Just make sure you can have dairy-based products as this is the primary source of protein.

I’m having trouble getting my protein powder to dissolve completely. Do you have any tips?
You may need to add more liquid when mixing the powder. If it is still not dissolving completely try using a shaker cup or blender.

What is whey protein? Is whey protein the best source of protein?
Whey protein is a high quality protein that is derived from milk. It provides all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to support lean muscle and strength when used with a balanced diet and exercise plan. Pure Protein offers several protein powders that are high in whey protein. Whey protein can also be found in Pure Protein bars as well as shakes. Many of the shakes provide milk protein, which is a natural source of whey as well as casein – the two major protein components of milk. Many people feel whey protein is one of the best supplemental proteins, if not the best, due to its amino acid profile and other factors used to rank protein quality such as Biological Value and Protein Digestibility.

I’m looking for the best protein powder for women. Is Pure Protein suitable for a woman’s protein needs?
Pure Protein Powders are an excellent option for women. Pure Protein offers a wide selection of great-tasting, low fat options that can be incorporated into your healthy lifestyle. These products are high in protein and have under 10 grams of carbohydrates. They can be added to a meal to boost the protein content or used pre- or post-workout for exercise support. For those looking for extra support, Pure Protein Plus and The Body Shaping Formula each provide a good source of fiber for digestive health.

Can Pure Protein drinks be considered meal replacement shakes? What about dieting shakes?
Pure Protein drinks are not intended to be a replacement for an entire meal. Often they are used in between meals to help satisfy your body’s need for quality protein with a delicious taste. These drinks can also be consumed with other foods to help round out the meal and improve the overall protein content. Pure Protein drinks can also make a great addition to a healthy diet since they are low in fat. The 23g protein and 35g protein drinks also have under 10 grams of carbohydrates which is perfect for anyone monitoring their carb intake.

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