Why Should You Bother with Protein Powder?
By Joan Kent, Ph.D.
Frequently, I recommend protein powder to supplement dietary protein, but my clients aren't always sure exactly how to use it once they buy it. That's the topic of this article.
What Makes Protein So Important?
• Protein has numerous functions in the body. An obvious one is that it can be converted to glucose for energy.
• Protein is also used to form hormones, enzymes, blood, body tissue, hemoglobin, antibodies, transport proteins, and much more.
• As protein enters the small intestine, it triggers CCK, a powerful satiety hormone. CCK curbs carb cravings significantly. People who don't get adequate protein – including vegans – often have strong cravings for sugar and other carbs.
• Protein provides the amino acid precursors for brain chemicals that in turn have many functions. Those amino acids can, for example, raise dopamine and norepinephrine for alertness and improved mood. Eating sufficient protein can reduce the need for caffeine because caffeine releases the same chemicals. But while caffeine depletes those chemicals, protein increases their production.
• Another example is the amino acid tryptophan, used by the brain to make serotonin. Serotonin enhances satiety and mood. This is significant for women, who have a higher rate of brain turnover of serotonin than men. We need lots of tryptophan, which comes from protein.
• Additionally, protein provides several B vitamins that act as catalysts in forming all three of the brain chemicals above.
But Why Use Protein Powder?
I'm not suggesting that you give up real foods and use protein powder in their place. But the powder is convenient – light and portable, no refrigeration needed. Below are suggestions for specific situations.
Vegetarians / Vegans
Powdered protein is great for those who don't want to eat meat. For vegans, who eat no animal products, protein powder might be the best way to include high-quality protein in the diet.
Non-animal sources of 'protein' often aren't. Nuts are not protein. Most are unsaturated fat, followed by carbs. Beans, rice and quinoa are primarily carbs. Protein powder can help fill protein needs.
Vegans often experience strong sugar cravings. Protein powder – hemp, pea, vegetable, rice – could be a top option for stopping vegans' cravings long-term.
After a workout, refueling within 30 minutes is ideal. The best post-training meal is a combination of carb and protein in about a 3-to-1 ratio.
Powdered protein will keep in a gym locker and mix with water as part of a solid post-workout "meal." Just add good starch. Potatoes are excellent after workouts; other starches work, too.
On the Go
Away from the office and a snack room, it might be difficult to find protein if you can't stop for a meal. Depending on the hours you'll be in the field, protein powder may be the best option. Carbs are easy; we can find salads and other carbs almost anywhere.
For emergencies, leave an envelope or two of protein powder in your car. Just mix with water. Take care of the protein, and the rest of the meal will fall in place.
Travel is an obvious time for the convenience of protein powder. A couple of years ago, I attended a 5-day seminar in a remote area. We were told it would feature only vegetarian cuisine. I brought 15 envelopes of raw vegetable protein powder and mixed one with water at the start of each meal. With my protein needs taken care of, I could enjoy the rest of the meal with no problem.
Conquering Sugar Addiction
Consuming protein throughout the day can help you end sugar addiction by changing brain chemistry and preventing sugar cravings. Many brands of protein powder are out there, so find one with no junk – especially no sugar.
Don't make the same mistake as a client of mine who had a serious sugar addiction. Instead of buying plain, unsweetened powder and mixing it with water (per my instructions), she bought French Vanilla and mixed it with orange juice. "The protein drinks are delicious!" she gushed, but her sugar cravings got worse.
"Delicious" is usually a telltale sugar sign. Unsweetened protein - whey, pea, vegetable, others - plus water may not be as delicious, but will be more helpful.
So skip granola bars, "energy" bars, chocolate-hazelnut spread, electrolyte drinks, and other junk. The main benefit of protein powder is it's a true protein source when ordinary foods aren't available.
Protein is key for conquering sugar addiction, but there's more to the process. If you feel you could use some help, just visit http://www.FoodAddictionSolutions.com/coaching/ to schedule your free Eating Empowerment Consult. Find out how easy it is for an expert coach to move you forward and get you on track to freedom!
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, #1 best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.