If you are at least somewhat health-conscious and regularly spend time reading up about what’s good for your body, you would by now have understood that protein powder is a very useful way of getting the key macronutrient protein into your body.
But if you don’t regularly read up but know you want to take protein or protein powder – you might have questions. What does protein truly do for your body? How much protein should you take in a day? What protein powder types are there to try and then buy? What protein powder benefits do you actually get? Are there any protein powder side effects? If you’re confused, don’t worry, just keep reading on.
OZiva is here to provide you with the ultimate guide when it comes to protein, protein powder, and the best protein powder for men and women. Let’s take a look at the A-Z of protein.
What is Protein?
The truth is, after water, protein is probably the most abundant element in our cells. Our body requires three essential macronutrients to function properly. Out of the three, protein is present in our bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair, nails and almost every other body part.
Protein is not crucial just for bodybuilding or muscle building anymore. Protein is actually involved in major biochemical processes in our body and is vital at every life stage. Your protein requirement varies depending on your age, weight, health goals, and physical activity levels, but every single person requires protein.
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The protein you consume, whether through food or a protein powder, is a product of two types of amino acids:
Essential amino acids: Our body cannot produce these nine essential amino acids and you have to get them for yourself through a protein-rich diet or through protein powders and supplements. These include lusine, lysine and tryptophan.
Non-essential amino acids: These may have lesser importance in your diet. Our body can naturally produce them, so you should be good with these without protein powder generally, except
Your protein requirement depends especially on your exercise routine. The more intense the workout, the more protein powder you require. During high-intensity workouts like HIIT or fast cardio, your body begins to require more non-essential amino acids like arginine. Since it is very hard to meet these requirements internally, you need to supply these extra amino acids externally through supplements like a protein powder.
What is the role of protein powder in your body?
You might think you can get enough protein merely from your diet. You would be half-right. You can find protein in foods like legumes, nuts, beans, and pulses. However, if you are a vegetarian or have special dietary requirements, getting protein might become more difficult. If you follow a hectic schedule, you may find it hard to cook protein-rich food every day for yourself or give your protein diet enough attention. So in this challenge, enter protein powder.
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A protein powder is a nutritional supplement that is convenient, quick and easy to consume. The best part is – if you’re searching by need, flavour or composition, you can find a protein powder of any type:
Flavour: You can find a protein powder in a variety of flavours, including chocolate, banana caramel, vanilla almond, cafe mocha and mango. If you’re not into flavours – try unflavoured! That’s there too.
Age and Gender: There are protein powders out there which have been formulated especially for men, for women, for elderly people.
Needs: You can find protein powder for muscle gain, and the best protein powder for muscle building and recovery. You can try plant protein powder if other sources do not suit.
Basically you can find the best protein powder for men and women to suit your needs anywhere. They are a delicious way to fill your nutritional gaps and stay fit.
What are the main Protein Powder Benefits?
Like we said earlier, protein does not just build muscles or bodies. It is in charge of several other vital processes in the body. Let us find out what protein and protein powder actually do for your body:
Muscle Gains – Protein is actually vital for the growth and maintenance of tissues. Your body has a daily protein requirement, and not meeting it can lead to severe muscle loss, especially after you cross the age of 25. You can take a protein powder to help with muscle gains, growth, and to increase your muscle size. You can take your protein powder in the form of protein shakes around 15-6o minutes post-workout in what is known as the anabolic window. Protein powder is rich in Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) that support faster muscle recovery and prevent post-workout fatigue.
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Manage and Maintain a Healthy Weight- If your health goal is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, then you should always work protein or protein powder into a diet plan. Protein-rich diets keep you fuller for longer. A protein powder is capable of giving you a feeling of satiation, also known as fullness. It helps prevent irregular food cravings (especially of junk food) and reduces your overall calorie intake (as you eat less). Include a protein powder in your diet as a post-workout shake or healthy snack to ensure fat-burning.
Healthy Metabolism – Protein has a high thermic effect on the body. That means when you take protein regularly through a protein powder, you burn more calories round the clock, even when you sleep. Protein can increase your calories burned by around 80 to 100 everyday, which means it boosts your metabolism as well. Take your protein powder with your high-protein diet for a metabolic advantage over other diets.
Improving Immunity and Digestion – Protein powder helps break down the protein in your body and encourages better digestion. Protein also helps build strong antibodies that are skilled in fighting pathogens and infections. It helps synthesise immune cells like lymphocytes.
How much protein do you actually need?
You might feel tempted to begin taking your protein powder straight up. But first, let’s understand how much protein you actually need in a day to plan it out. According to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein, the average woman needs around 46 grams of protein in a day. The average man needs around 56 grams of protein in a day.
Note that this is the bare minimum to prevent a serious protein deficiency. If you are engaged in a journey to build muscle or lose weight, you will need to add more protein to your diet through a protein powder.
That is not a fixed amount, rather your protein intake should be relative to your diet or body weight, depending on your scenario.
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Most studies calculate your extra protein intake as a percentage of calories eaten in a day. For weight loss, aim that around 30% of your calorie intake per day should be protein (through diet or protein powder). Find out the number of protein grams by multiplying your calorie intake into 0.075.
For muscle building, you can take a different approach with your protein powder. Budget around 2.2 grams of protein per 1 kg of your body weight. Take a minimum of around 1.6 grams of protein per 1 kg of your body weight. If your body weight is 60 kgs, for example, you are looking at around 132 grams of protein in a day as optimal (around 96 grams as a minimum). If you are carrying a lot of body fat, make muscle building your goal through protein powder for muscle gain.
What are the Types of Protein Powder?
We told you earlier that you had a whole world of protein powder to explore based on flavours and compositions. The truth is that manufactures extract protein powder for all supplements from sources like milk, legumes, peas, brown rice and more. Your protein powder can contain additions like Ayurvedic herbs, vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes for further benefits – we’ll look into that later. Here are the two major sources of protein you can find if your search the market for your protein powder:
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Whey Protein Powder – Whey protein powder is derived from milk sources. The biggest advantage of whey protein powder is that it contains a complete amino acids profile. Whey protein is easy to digest and consume post-workout as a part of the muscle recovery process, and it can be easily packaged into a variety of flavours and textures. Whey protein powder contains high amounts of leucine, making it one of the best protein powders for muscle gain. One can find both whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate powders in the market.
Plant Protein Powder – The biggest issue with whey protein powder is that those who are lactose-intolerant cannot consume it. Other reasons you might not want to go for whey protein is that you want to follow a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet. In that case, plant protein powder is the best option for you. They derive protein from sources like pea protein, brown rice, quinoa or mung bean. Plant protein has a strong vitamins and minerals profile, but often is viewed as “incomplete” if taken from a single source as not all protein sources contain essential amino acids. Protein powder manufacturers often combine multiple plant sources to create a “complete” plant protein.
How to choose the best protein powder for men and women
Protein supplements are truly beneficial for everyone. That’s why there are 100 protein powder brands on the market. So how do you choose the best protein powder for yourself based on your needs and tastes? There are many factors to consider, but here are a few indicators to keep in mind of what makes the best protein powder in general:
It should contain high amounts of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (also called BCAAs). These BCAAs will help you build muscle and contribute to a “complete” protein (even if the powder is a whey protein powder or a plant protein powder)
It should be free of any toxins and artificial chemicals that could damage your body in the long run. It should be 100% safe for consumption by people for extended periods of time.
It should not contain any processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. Both cause insulin spikes and can lead to weight gain, as well as increasing the risk of diabetes in the long run.
It should be easily digestible within the body to allow the protein to break down and be used by the body (or it should be made with additional herbs that make it easy to digest or even contain probiotic bacteria that promote easier digestion).
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The protein powder should contain other compounds that provide additional benefits to the body (like skin and hair health, or muscle recovery)
Another important factor to make your choice is your health goals. Let’s look at a few options of protein powder based on your health goals as well:
As we mentioned earlier, your protein requirement increases with your workout intensity. If you are an athlete or an active person like a bodybuilder, choose the supplement with the highest protein content. A supplement with whey protein powder might be good for you both as a man and a woman, for high contents of amino acids.
Both whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein support lean mass and muscle gain, while whey protein concentrate contributes to weight management. Choosing a protein powder with both might be beneficial, such as the OZiva protein powder (OZiva Proteins & Herbs for Men and OZiva Protein & Herbs for Women)
If you are generally inactive or do not have much physical activity, then choose a protein shake designed for general daily protein intake (can be with both plant protein or whey protein)
In case you are lactose-intolerant, then go for plant protein powder in general. Do not take the risk with whey protein.
As a regular athlete or long-distance runner, going for plant protein powder is a good choice to improve your performance, endurance and muscle recovery, especially if the product has clinically and scientifically proven actives for better results (such as OZiva Bioactive Plant Protein, which contains 25g vegan protein, 5.5 BCAAs and ensures 30% Better Muscle Recovery and 59% Faster Protein Absorption).
Is a protein powder safe to consume?
A good-quality protein should not have any side effects and will be safe to consume for a period of 3-6 months. Ensure that the product is soy-free, gluten-free and does not contain any added sugar or artificial preservatives. The “cleaner” (or more free from any contaminants) your protein powder is, the better it is for you. For example, OZiva protein powder is Certified Clean by the US-Based CLP (meaning tested and cleared for over 300 contaminants in parts per billion).
Suggested read –Are There Any Side Effects Of Protein Powder?
If you have any medical conditions, do not consume your protein powder without consulting a doctor. Protein supplements also need to be carefully taken if you have diabetes or prediabetes, are elderly, or are a pregnant or lactating woman. Ensure while taking your protein that you stick to your daily recommended amount to avoid issues like bloating and nausea. Otherwise, your protein supplement will be 100% safe to consume in the long run.
How to Consume your Protein Powder
There are many ways to consume your protein supplement! The easiest way is to turn it into a protein shake or smoothie. One can make a protein shake very easily with just a little protein powder, water or milk, with the addition of other fruits, nuts and seeds for taste. However, the best idea would be to take your protein powder with water to encourage faster protein absorption and recovery.
You can also add your protein powder to pancakes, cookies, protein bars and desserts (if flavoured). If unflavoured, you can add your protein powder to your daily diet. Mix them up in sandwiches, sprinkle them on top of your salads, or even add them to your dough to make rotis. This way, enhance the nutritional value of your meals.
The Best Protein Powder for Women and Men
Here are two awesome protein powder choices that are recommended by nutritionists, doctors, lakhs of consumers and the US-Based Clean Label Project.
Want muscle growth, faster muscle recovery and stamina? Choose OZiva Protein & Herbs for Men is a protein powder for men with 23g of Certified Clean whey protein with 5.5 BCAAs, and Ayurvedic herbs like Ginseng, Ashwagandha and Wheatgrass for better digestion. This whey protein powder is ideal for athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts alike and is available in three delicious flavours – Chocolate, Cafe Mocha and Banana Caramel. In a consumer study, 98%+users experienced increased muscle size in just 6 months.
Want to try the best protein powder for women? OZiva Protein & Herbs for Women contains 23g Clean Protein, 15 Ayurvedic Herbs and essential vitamins and minerals for weight control, better metabolism, hormonal balance, building immunity and ensuring better skin and hair health. It is available in four delicious flavours – Chocolate, Vanilla Almond, Cafe Mocha and Mango.