Whole Foods or Protein Supplements?
It’s been a controversy for years: are protein supplements needed for athletes? Nutritionists claim that protein requirements can be met by whole food sources. They also assert that supplemental protein powders provide no benefits. As an athletic trainer, I don’t agree with this opinion.
While of course it may be more fun to eat a big, juicy steak than a jug of protein, supplements can nevertheless provide superior benefits compared to whole food sources.
Where Should Protein Be Derived?
Most everyone will concur: protein ought to be derived from a range of sources. Various protein sources have different amino acid, vitamin and mineral rundowns. The lack of any macronutrient, whether protein, carbs, or fats; or micronutrient, vitamins or minerals, can cause nutritional problems. So how do you stop this from happening? Try to get a range in your diet, including like lean beef and chicken, eggs, low fat cheese and milk, and fish.
But athletes these days want protein sources that are convenient and don’t need much preparation, which would eliminate the chicken, beef and eggs. In this case, since the whole protein sources are few, the athlete just won’t eat of enough of them.
Also, food protein sources picked for convenience could lack specific amino acids required for growth and restoration. Should this occur, while the grams of protein consumed may seem to be adequate, there can be real deficiencies in the diet. Special amino acid deficiencies can limit performance.
Protein supplements usually have quite high quality protein that necessitates no meal arrangement, except for needing to recall to pick up your protein as you leave the house. Also, because these protein powders are often fortified with vitamins and minerals (two other aspects of a balanced diet that many athletes are missing), they offer a simple source of other nutrients needed for the highest possible nutrition and growth.
Protein Supplements Cost
Some believe protein supplements are costly compared to their protein content and that whole food sources are cheaper. But this isn’t true.
While protein supplements can be a little more costly in some cases, they are not significantly more costly than whole food sources when in relation to per forty grams of protein. Most protein supplements that have around forty grams of protein, twenty-four grams of carbs and three grams of fat are substantially more inexpensive (and of course more nutrient-fortified) than the fast food meals that many athletes would choose over cooking a half pound of chicken or readying a dozen egg whites. Also, because many food sources contain other carbs and fats, if someone would like to increase protein consumption with a negligible increase in calories, fat and carb-free protein powders are best.
A final benefit of protein supplements is that they are created to be absorbed quicker than whole protein sources. Besides quick digestion, a very high percentage of good protein powders are fully assimilated due to the amino acid profiles of the supplements and the deficiency of lactose or fat. Nowadays, many supplemental proteins are also partly broken down when created. This means they don’t need as much processing before digestion.