The Nutritional Value of Protein Smoothies

The Nutritional Value of Protein Smoothies

Nutritional Value of Protein Smoothies

More and more research is being released on the benefits of protein consumption. While it’s long been known that protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, only in recent years has it become popularized for its abundance of other health benefits.

Yet, some controversy exists over the idea of protein supplementation and its function in helping achieve adequate amounts of protein. While some view protein supplementation as an inferior and all-but-ineffective sales gimmick, other experts view protein supplementation as an effective alternative for consumption.

In what follows, we’ll be discussing protein as a macronutrient, its primary functions, and its many potential health benefits. Further, we’ll discuss protein supplementation and detail the advantages of protein powder and its many variations. Lastly, we’ll explore how dietary protein smoothies and shakes can aid as a healthy alternative in many dietary regimens.

Protein 101

Protein is one of three macronutrients essential to the function and survival of the human body, and more specifically, the bones, muscles, skin, and blood. This key macronutrient is often referred to as being the building block of life.

Protein is composed of chemical compounds known as amino acids, and it is broken down and absorbed efficiently during the normal digestive process. The end result of this digestive process boosts the immune system, improves cellular health, builds lean muscle tissue, improves athletic performance, and provides energy.

Studies of protein have identified that when consumed in optimal amounts, it may aid in reducing risk factors for osteoporosis, heart disease, and other major health complications.

While protein can and should be consumed primarily through whole foods, sometimes supplementation may be necessary, especially for athletes or extremely active individuals whose protein requirements are greater than that of less active individuals.

Potential Health Benefits of Protein Powder

When the body isn’t provided with adequate amounts of protein on a daily basis, optimal functioning of the human body diminishes. Thus, for all individuals, striving for optimal protein consumption is essential. For those who have difficulty consuming sufficient amounts of whole foods, protein supplementation is necessary to reach adequate levels.

The following are some of the most commonly reported and researched health benefits of protein and protein powder supplementation.

Weight Loss

While protein is often thought of as an alternative fuel source to carbohydrates and fats, it also acts as an effective appetite suppressant, increasing satiety and reducing food cravings for longer periods of time. Thus, protein aids in weight loss by influencing the number of calories consumed throughout each day, and it also boosts metabolism.

Muscle Growth

Combined with consistent resistance training, protein powder supplementation also aids primarily in lean muscle growth via a process known as muscle protein synthesis. Through muscular repair and recovery, protein also allows for maximal effort and athletic performance, reducing the risk of injury, and allowing for consistent and intense efforts during the resistance training regimen.

Energy Production

As suggested in a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, protein supplementation resulted in less fatigue during exercise compared to those who didn’t supplement with protein. Thus, those who consumed protein shakes experienced greater energy and output.

Immunity

Research also suggests that consuming adequate amounts of protein, whether through whole food or powdered supplementation, boosts immunity and provides a means of both illness prevention and management.

Skin Care

Finally, protein powder supplementation acts as a natural moisturizer for dry skin and an alternative solution for acne-prone skin and other skin imperfections.

Common Types of Protein Powder

According to the FDA, dietary supplements are those products that provide nutrients external to a whole foods diet, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, probiotics, prebiotics, and other beneficial enzymes.

By definition, protein powder is a dietary supplement that provides the body with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, allowing optimal recovery, repair, and function of the body.

The most commonly consumed protein powders are those derived from animal-based sources. These sources include whey protein, casein, and collagen, found in dairy products such as milk and cheese and animal tissue. Other animal-based protein powders include beef protein powder, egg-white protein powder, and other grass-fed powders.

In addition to the more popular animal-based powders, protein powder can also be derived from plants. Some common types of plant-based protein powders include soy protein and pea protein. These plant-based proteins tend to be less expensive and contain less protein, overall calories, and fats than that of animal-based protein powders.

Pea protein powder, unlike other plant-based protein powders, is a complete protein source that contains all nine essential amino acids. Both digestible and good tasting, pea protein is the superior option for those looking for an alternative to animal-based products. In addition, it produces similar recovery and repair benefits to whey protein and has been highlighted in research to help prevent chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Final Thoughts

Whether the goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or improving overall health, high protein diets have proven integral to achieving this goal. Though a whole foods diet is the optimal path, protein powder shakes are an effective and convenient alternative source of protein.

A Guide to Intermittent Fasting

A Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Though the practice of fasting has been around for centuries primarily for religious and ceremonial purposes, it’s only become a popular health and wellness practice in recent years.

Simple in its explanation but difficult in its execution, fasting is the act of restraint from consumption for a given period of time. In the most extreme of circumstances, fasting can last days, with no food and only limited drink allowed to be consumed. Among the most popular fasting protocols is intermittent fasting.

In what follows, we’ll be discussing what intermittent fasting is, how it works, what types there are, and how the body responds to this process. Further, we’ll share strategies for managing hunger while in a fasting state. Finally, we’ll discuss its many benefits, including weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a popularized fasting protocol whereby there’s a window of allowable time for consumption and a window of restriction where no consumption is to take place.

The idea of using fasting in this protocol is based on the fact that by prohibiting the consumption of food for several hours, the body eventually exhausts itself of glucose, using it all for energy during the fasting session.

As a result, the body then begins to burn fat for fuel and, in the process, switches the body’s natural metabolic process to a weight-loss-promoting process.

Though it’s yet to be determined which method of fasting is most effective, the majority of the research has been done on the 16:8 method of intermittent fasting.

The following are the most common types of intermittent fasting.

The 16:8 Method

Offering a window of 8 hours for consumption and 16 hours for restraint, the 16:8 method is likely the most practiced of fasting protocols, not only for its low barrier to entry but for its proven benefits. The typical schedule for this protocol is beginning the eating window at noon and ending it at 8 p.m., and then running the restriction window from 8 p.m. to noon the following day.

The 5:2 Method

While the 16:8 method is a way of breaking down a 24-hour period, the 5:2 method is a way of breaking down a one-week period. In the protocol, five days are to be carried out with usual consumption, and two days are to involve a 500-calorie consumption limit.

Prolonged Fast

Whether for 24, 48, or 72 hours, or anything in between, a prolonged fast is an intermittent fast that lasts up to several days without consumption of food and/or water.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Although the research on intermittent fasting has yet to show that its benefits are superior to that of other dietary protocols, it’s an undeniably valuable tool, particularly for those seeking to lose weight, reduce body fat, or simply live a more conscious and intentional lifestyle.

Similarly, while it might sound counterintuitive to ignore the lack of research on the subject, the anecdotal evidence is quite convincing in considering the validity of the method.

It is a superior strategy for those who’d prefer to avoid the tedious practice of calorie counting during weight loss, and it’s also an excellent natural appetite suppressant. In addition, it’s a very efficient strategy for energy production. While it might take 1-2 weeks for the body to adjust, the results can be profound once adjusted.

Intermittent fasting also has several other health and wellness benefits, and these vary from person to person and depend on the consistency of the fast. The following are some benefits seen.

  • Mental Sharpness and Acuity
  • Focus and Cognition
  • Reduction in Inflammation
  • Cellular Generation and Cleansing
  • Boosted Hormonal Health
  • Improved Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels

In order to benefit from intermittent fasting, however, the fasting period must be adhered to strictly and successfully. This requires managing hunger during the fast. Strategically, it’s imperative to stay hydrated via water and electrolytes, reduce stress, and find healthy distractions. Other hunger management tactics include coffee consumption, meditation, and being strategic with food choices during windows of consumption.

Though weight loss is likely the most common and obvious benefit, the concept of improved cellular and hormonal health is quite interesting.

How Intermittent Fasting Affects Cells and Hormones

Physiologically, intermittent fasting plays a major role at the cellular level that likely has an impact on hormonal health and beyond.

Not only does human growth hormone increase during a prolonged fasting period, but insulin levels go down, and cellular regeneration and repair are triggered.

The following are some of the biological and physiological changes that occur.

Human Growth Hormone

The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing by as much as five-fold. This has benefits for both fat loss and muscle gain.

Insulin Sensitivity

The sensitivity of circulating insulin improves, and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible to burn.

Cellular repair

When fasted, the cellular repair process is triggered. This includes autophagy, a process whereby old cells are removed and new cells are generated.

Final Thoughts

Intermittent fasting is a popular method of weight loss, and it can produce excellent results. However, it’s recommended for most individuals to use the more popular 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol.

Not only is this the easiest method to adopt as a beginner due to its simplicity and attainability, but it might just be the most effective strategy out there. Yet, more research will be necessary to draw more specific conclusions about this protocol.