Protein is the main building block of the human body. It plays vital roles in various functions of the body including the formation of skin, hair, nails, blood, tendons, enzymes, hormones and various other molecules.
The addition of protein in your diet can balance hormones, assist in weight loss, support detoxification and digestion, boost your immune system, and even support pregnancy.
Are you taking enough protein in your diet?
An average woman needs 0.8g of protein per 1 kg of body weight. If you are 50kgs, you need 40grams of protein per day.
For context one cup of dal has 6g of protein. It’s very likely that for a lot of us the quantity of protein supplied through the diet is not enough to meet the body’s requirements for protein. There is a definite need for supplementation in such a situation or improving the daily diet.
Are you supplementing protein with protein powders?
Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The amount of protein per scoop can vary from 10 to 30 grams. Hence one scoop is good enough for most of us as a daily supplement?
But did you know that powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals? These are added at the time of processing, to improve flavor, finish, consistency and utility.
Choose the right “healthy” protein?
It’s important you choose the right protein powder that suits your needs and that supports your health in every way.
It’s important that the protein you are consuming is un-denatured and free from chemicals and additives.
Most protein contains few ingredients which are harmful for the body. Chemicals to look out for:
Dextrins/Maltodextrin. Added to protein powders as fillers to bulk it out or make the protein mix easier. But, it can raise glycemic load, which may contribute to fat storage. Most are processed with GMO corn and they can also cause gastrointestinal distress in some people.
Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, Aspartamine, or Saccharin. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may actually increase cravings toward sugary and sweet foods. Studies have also linked artificial sweeteners to a higher risk of glucose intolerance, which is a precursor for pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the brain the same way as natural sweeteners do. This leads to a lack of complete satisfaction from food, inherently increasing cravings for sweetness, and desiring additional energy from food.
Artificial sweeteners may actually increase the risk of developing diseases such as metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, and type 2 diabetes, the very diseases that these artificial sweeteners are marketed as helping in the first place.
Several negative side effects can come from ingesting these ingredients, including headaches, migraines, gastric distress such as bloating, acid reflux and weight gain.
Many protein powders contain heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Lots of additives, carcinogens formed during processing (nitrates, etc.) or others added to these powdered mixtures.
Vegetable oils and fats are the ingredients which often add to many weight loss and protein powders to increase richness and make them taste creamy. However, these fats are often derived from hydrogenated sources that contain trans fats, which are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats. Trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol.
Thickeners and gums are also added in protein, including xanthin gum, are manufactured from soy or corn and can cause bloating, constipation and gas. They are little like glue in your digestive system.
Fillers like coconut flour, psyllium, palm sugar are often added to bulk up the protein and save money for the manufacturer. These can cause gastric distress such as bloating, constipation and reflux in people who are susceptible to digestive issues.
Finding: Food packaging is tricky. Always check the back of the pack and be on a lookout for the above ingredients. You might be doing more harm than good to your body.
Try to take good quality plant based protein without preservatives.
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Written By Nutritionist Annie Katare
A post graduate in food and nutrition from Sarojini Naidu college Bhopal M.P.Having 10 year of experience in field of nutrition and dietetics. She strongly believes that a regular routine of health and fitness is the first step to a healthy lifestyle.