You probably thought, if you get a protein supplement, it'll help you build muscle and lose weight faster… but, is that true?
Do people who use protein supplements lose weight and build muscle faster?
The answer to that is a matter of sourcing the right stuff.
What Protein Does In Your Body
Proteins are responsible for most things in your body. They come together to form enzymes, cellular structure, and they are the basic and strongest material to create your muscles.
So, you think you would need a lot of it to survive, but that's not quite true. You don't actually need a lot of protein in your diet, averaging about 56 grams (2 oz) per day for a man, and the average woman should eat about 46 grams (1.5 oz).
What's more important than the quantity of protein is the quality. And here's where a lot of people make their mistake.
There are 22 amino acids, eight of which we absolutely must consume. The rest we can make ourselves, even if that process isn't exactly efficient. Vegetarians don't get enough of creatine and taurine and must consume much more protein because plant-based protein isn't well absorbed by the body. Whereas people who rely on protein drinks and supplements don't get enough of arginine.
The opposite can be true, as well. Protein drinks and supplements are very high in aspartic acid and cysteine. The body will either flush it out unused or store it as fat, raising your risk of dehydration.
Why Protein Drinks Are The Worst Choice For Protein Needs
Most of the protein you consume from protein drinks gets wasted, according to the NIH. Your body absorbs amino acids, not protein as a whole. Your protein drink will only be as good as its weakest amino acid, and depending on the type of protein drink, that can differ.
The most common type of protein drinks are whey protein. That's because whey is the leftover fluid from making cheese, and there is a lot of that left over. It is a rich protein matrix, relying heavily on the casein. Plus, most whey comes from non-organic sources, meaning it can contain high concentrations of growth hormones and antibiotics.
Alternatively, pea protein drinks and other legumes like soy are commonly used for protein drinks geared more towards vegetarians. Two huge problems exist for using legumes as a protein source.
First, legumes, particularly soy, are very rich in goitrogens, which depressed thyroid function. Although you might get a boost in your protein now, chances are you going to depress your thyroid function later in life. The use of unfermented soy products, such as soy protein, directly correlates to thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism.
Secondly, legumes are rich in phytic acid, a chemical that binds nutrients such as iron and calcium and turns them into the more toxic phytates. You get less nutrition out of all of your food with the more legumes products you consume. Some studies show that using legumes as a protein source can cause severe nutritional deficiencies.
There are some other vegetable protein matrices out there, however, they have various protein concentrations, so you'll have to look at the label to see exactly what it has.
What To Do Instead
The highest quality protein you can eat comes from 100% whole cut meat sources. You get a higher concentration of bioavailable proteins from a small 3 oz steak than you do from an 8 oz glass of protein drink. A single chicken thigh is richer in protein and fat than a soy protein bar. A single egg is a complete protein source.
If you want a good dose of protein, stick with natural sources. For most people eating one to two eggs in the morning, 3 oz of chicken in the afternoon, and 4 oz of steak or fish in the evening will provide all of your bodily needs for protein for the entire day.
Even for athletes who are training, getting more protein than this does not benefit the body. And it can actually rob you of vital fats and vitamins and minerals you need for energy and stamina.
If you think you need more protein, we recommend sticking to natural sources. Snack on eggs, organic jerky, or fermented tofu or miso (which can also add healthy probiotics to your body). These natural food products will give you more benefits than any processed drink can.