Protein Supplementation: Is It Right for You? The Brief Basics: Part I

If you are an active person and are following a nutritious diet plan, you may wonder if protein supplementation is right for you.  In most cases, protein supplementation may help you reach your health and fitness goals. However, when contemplating the decision to incorporate any new diet modification, you should schedule a consultation with your physician.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Once cleared by your physician, and before purchasing a protein powder there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. The questions that should cross your mind are: What are my health and fitness goals? Why do athletes/fitness enthusiasts prefer to supplement with protein? Is it right for me? Will supplementing with protein help me reach these goals? What types of protein should I be consuming? 

Answering these questions, will not only help you figure out what you would like to achieve but it may steer you into the direction of how to achieve these goals.

This article will focus on different types of protein powders and how incorporating one or more types of these powders into your diet may fit into your lifestyle.

Convenience

A major benefit of protein powders are that they can be incorporated into many recipes, though they are mainly used to make shakes. Shakes are very convenient and cost-effective.

Athletes who usually consume protein after a workout do so to make sure they replace nutrients lost during their workout. Research has proven that carbohydrate and protein supplementation before and after a workout enhances the anabolic hormone state compare with a non supplemented state. This means that the body can concentrate on building muscle and not repairing the muscle. (Clark, 427). Shakes are a quick and easy way to get the essential nutrients quickly to the muscles.  This shake will offer satiety until they can eat their next meal.

Protein Categories:

There are two major categories of proteins: animal source proteins and vegetable source proteins.

Animal source proteins include: milk protein derivatives such as whey and casein, goat’s milk and egg albumin.

Vegetable source proteins include: Soy, rice, pea and hemp.

Now let’s break each type of protein down to help you understand their benefits and/or limitations.

Protein Types:

Whey Protein

Whey protein is derived from milk and is the most popular type of protein powder because of taste, quality, cost, and it’s effect on the immune system. It has two varieties. Concentrate and Isolate.

Concentrate (more affordable per gram) has a low lactose level and usually is well tolerated with people suffering from lactose sensitivity. Concentrate powders absorb into the body at a moderate pace, best for in-between meals or meal replacement.

Isolate is lower in fat and lactose free and has a thinner consistency. Isolates absorb quickly into the body and are usually best post-workout to deliver nutrients quicker to “hungry” muscle cells.

You will also find many quality protein powders that will have a blend of both types of proteins.

Casein

Casein is another milk-derived protein. Milk protein is 80% casein. Casein protein is absorbed slowly into the digestive system and is used mainly as athletes last meal before bedtime. However, people do consume this protein during the day because of the satiety it provides and its constant delivery of protein over a 5-7 hour period.

Casein is a fantastic protein to bake with because of the consistency it takes on when cooked/heated. There are many recipes that use casein protein as baking alternative.

Vegetable Proteins

These proteins are suitable for anyone but especially vegetarians and/or vegans.

Soy Protein is the most popular vegetable protein powder. This type of protein provides the 8 essential amino acids. Hemp protein is the only other vegetable based protein that provides the 8 essential amino acids.

Soy protein also provides antioxidants and heart health benefits. Usually the taste is quite different when consuming soy protein, so you want to make sure you find a flavor you enjoy!

Sweeteners/Flavorings

Another important reason when choosing the right protein powder, I believe, for the consumer is the addition of sweeteners and flavorings. Protein powders usually fall under 3 categories when flavoring their products. The powders either contain: artificial flavors, sweeteners and/or colorings, a combination of artificial and natural flavors, sweeteners and colorings, or only natural flavors, sweeteners and colorings. So make sure you read the ingredients on the label if this is an important factor for you.

Conclusion

This article explained the different types of protein powders (very briefly) used for supplementation into one’s diet. In the next article, I will break down protein’s role in the body a little more in-depth along with how much (based on your type of activity/activity level) you should be consuming.

References:

Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Corn, R.J. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2008, 426-428.

Harvard School of Public Health Website http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

Medline Plus: National Institute of Health Website http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002467.htm

Taylor, M.G., Choosing a Protein Powder.www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx

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Protein: Part II: The Brief Basics Simplified

Protein! Protein! Protein! It seems that this macronutrient is on everyone’s mind lately. But why? What makes protein so special? I’ll explain the basics on the subject!

Why?

Protein is a macromolecule that is more complex than the other macronutrients as it plays a vital role in the human body. Basically almost every cell in our body has some sort of protein compound present; hair, skin, nails, muscle, bone and other body tissues. “Proteins are responsible for building and repairing body tissue and structures. Protein is also involved in the synthesis of hormones, enzymes and other regulatory peptides. Proteins are also known to be used as energy if calories or carbohydrate stores are not sufficient” (Clark, 421).

Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids that bind together to form peptide bonds. The body uses these amino acids to build thousands of different proteins that are utilized in the body. 

It is important that a person consumes the daily recommended amount of protein in their diet. We need this protein because our body is constantly breaking down tissues to replace it with new tissue. The way these tissues or proteins can be replaced is if we consume enough protein. Our body will then break them down into amino acids to be used to replace the lost tissue or structures.

But how much should I be consuming?

If you are only interested in a general range of how much protein you should be consuming, click here. If you would like to know a more precise range, a person should consume about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2lbs) of body weight per day.  If you are an active person (active recreational athlete, fitness enthusiast), your recommendation is about 1 gram of protein for every kilogram (2.2). If you are an endurance athlete you need a little more; about 1.4 grams per kilogram per day. Body builders have a larger range at about 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight depending on their exercise regimen.

The equation is easy. Convert your weight in pounds to kilograms. (Your weight (lbs) divided by 2.2) Then take the kilogram measurement and multiply by 0.8 and it will equal roughly how much protein you need to consume daily.

Here is an example for the average person: If this person weighs 115 pounds, you would divide 115 by 2.2 = 52.27. This equals the weight conversion from pounds to kilograms. Then I multiply 52.27 by 0.8 = 41.81. This person would need at least 41.8 grams of protein per day and should equate to 15-30 percent of a person’s total caloric intake.

Where should I get my protein from?

A person’s first choice to consume protein should be from nutrient dense foods. There are two types of protein sources: Complete Proteins and Incomplete Proteins.

Complete proteins are foods that contain all the essential amino acids. These foods include:  meats, poultry, eggs, fish, milk and cheese.

Incomplete proteins are low in one or more of the essential amino acids and include: grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Three categories of Amino Acids include: Essential (red outline), Conditionally Non-Essential (yellow outline) and Non-Essential Groupings (green outline).

Three categories of Amino Acids include: Essential (red outline), Conditionally Non-Essential (yellow outline) and Non-Essential Groupings (green outline).

What about protein supplementation?

Supplementation has its benefits and drawbacks. Benefits include: cost effectiveness and convenience while one of its drawbacks include overconsumption. Check out a more in-depth explanation of protein supplementation in my earlier post: Protein Supplementation: Is it Right for You: The Brief Basics.

Can too much protein be harmful?

Yes, too much of anything can be harmful! Overconsumption of protein can lead to the development of an overproduction of urea in the body, which puts more strain on the kidneys to eliminate waste. For every gram of protein over tissue maintenance, 1-1.5 mg or calcium is excreted, which can lead to a calcium deficiency in the body. (Clark, 426). Also, protein metabolism relies on water and requires 7 times the amount water than carbohydrate and fat. This in turn can deplete glycogen stores, which inhibits performance and causes dehydration. This can negatively impact energy and athletic performance as well overall healthy functioning such as eventual hunger, slower metabolism, and weight rebound (Clark, 427). If a person’s diet lacks the necessary amount of carbohydrates (protein sparing) and fats than the body relies on protein for energy. Using this macromolecule for energy will inhibit the protein to be able to repair muscle and body tissue. 

Conclusion:

This is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to protein, it’s role in the body, the benefits, the drawbacks and information. Just remember before you think about any type of diet modifications, make sure you consult your physician and commit yourself to researching from reliable sources! You are worth it!

References:

Clark, M.A., Lucett, S.C., Corn, R.J. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2008, 421-428.

Harvard School of Public Health Website http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

Medline Plus: National Institute of Health Website http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002467.htm

Center for Disease Control Website http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html

https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-composition/individual-macronutrients-phytonutrients-vitamins-minerals/macronutrients

Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids: Institute of Medicine: The National Academies, Washington, D.C. 2005, 590-591.

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Self Myofasical Release: The What and the Why

Self Myofascial Release (SMR) is a self-stretching technique that has becoming increasing popular within the fitness industry. SMR is usually performed with foam rollers, but are not limited to just the rollers themselves. Other assistive devices such as tennis balls, lacrosse balls, medicine balls, PVC piping, and SMR massage sticks are all great investment tools that are an inexpensive realistic alternative to massage therapy sessions (1).

Self Myofascial Release is based on the principal of dysfunctional movements of the neural and fascial systems of the body.  Dysfunctional movements can be caused by incorrect posture, incorrect movement patterns or repetitive movements/motions of the body. When the body goes through these types of incorrect motions or movements, your body will interpret these movements as injuries occurring in your body. This causes what is known as The Cumulative Injury Cycle (1,2).

How injury happens in the body

How injury happens in the body

As your body recognizes this “injury,” it will try and repair itself. This process tries to repair the damages that these faulty movements patterns cause within the fascia. This cycle follows a path of muscle tissue/fascia inflammation. This muscle inflammation activates that body’s pain receptors as a protective mechanism and increases the muscles tension which causes a muscle spasm. Muscle (micro) spasms increase the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance, and relative flexibility (1-2). The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, (Davis’s Law). Davis’s Law states that muscle will model along the lines of stress (1,2). SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1).

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine and also emphasized by Penney (3), “Self Myofasical Release (SMR) is based on a principal known as autogenic inhibition. Autogenic Inhibition is a muscle that is inhibited by its own receptors (1). Skeletal muscle tissue contains two neural receptors called muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (GTO). Muscle spindles are sensory receptors running parallel to muscle fibers, sensitive to a change and rate of muscle lengthening. When stimulated, muscle spindles will cause a myotatic stretch reflex that causes the muscle to contract. The GTO receptors, located in the musculotendinous junctions, are stimulated by a change and rate of tension, and when GTOs are stimulated will cause the muscle to relax (2). When a change in tension is sustained at an adequate intensity and duration, muscle spindle activity is inhibited causing a decrease in trigger point activity, accompanied by a reduction of pain (1) which in layman’s terms will “turn off” a muscle spindle’s activity and allow the muscle to relax, stretch and realign with the muscle fiber (3).”

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, SMR (with foam rolling) benefits include: the correction of muscle imbalances, muscle relaxation, improved joint range of motion, improved neuromuscular efficiency, reduced soreness along with improved tissue recovery, the suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain, decreased neuromuscular hyper tonicity, provides optimal length-tension relationships and the decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system.

Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011.

Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012.

Penney, Stacey. http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rolling-applying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/ 21 August 2013.

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The Importance of Rest and Recovery in your Training Program

Overtraining? Yes, it is a real thing and can make yourself prone to injury and inhibit muscle growth. Rest and recovery is just as an important component of a healthy lifestyle as is physical activity and proper nutrition. During the rest and recovery phase of exercise is when the body can repair itself and rebuild its cellular components to enhance the muscular and vascular systems.

“Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychological symptoms of overtraining syndrome.” (Quinn, 2011).

These symptoms include :
Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
Pain in muscles and joints
Sudden drop in performance
Insomnia
Headaches
Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
Decrease in training capacity / intensity
Moodiness and irritability
Depression
Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
Decreased appetite
Increased incidence of injuries.
A compulsive need to exercise

If you are feeling any of these symptoms you need more recovery time. More recovery time will allow your body to repair itself and “recharge” for your next workout so you can overload those muscles again.

Now, let yourself relax and enjoy some rest and recovery time and get back to your training as soon as you are feeling up to par!

 

References:

http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html

http://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2757/training-recovery-the-most-important-component-of/

Quinn, E. (2011). Overtraining Syndrome and Athletes. About.com/sports medicine. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

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