Weighing your options
Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff
CAN’T FIGURE OUT protein? You’re not alone. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the massive tubs of supplements available at stores like Popeyes, Nutrition House, and General Nutrition Centre, but there is definitely a protein source out there for you—it just might take some exploring to find it.
For starters, let’s go over why it’s beneficial for you to incorporate a protein supplement into your diet. Protein is a macronutrient that gives your body energy, in the same way carbohydrates and fats do. It promotes muscle repair and growth, and can actually support fat loss since your body has to work 30 per cent harder to digest protein-rich foods.
Here, the Fulcrum helps you decide which protein powder is best for you before you drop your hard-earned cash on the first tub you see.
If you are trying to cut fat…
Look for a protein labeled “whey isolate.” Whey isolates are a purer form of protein (90-98%) and contain less fat and lactose. Its purity makes it a bit more expensive, but if you aren’t interested in bulking up, the price is worth it.
If you want to bulk up…
Look for a whey concentrate. Whey concentrates contain slightly less protein than an isolate (around 70-85%) and contain more fat, carbohydrates and lactose. These are a bit less expensive, and they taste a little better than whey isolates.
If you are a vegan…
Don’t buy a whey protein. Whey accounts for 20% of the protein in milk and cheese products. You still have options, though they may be a little more expensive. Soy, wheat, and pea proteins are often available at supplement stores.
These are just some basic options; from strawberry banana to German chocolate there are plenty of variations of the most popular types of protein out there and many different flavors to choose from.
Make sure you’re getting enough
Canada’s Food Guide states that active men and women require 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight every day. If you are extremely active or pregnant, however, you need more—1.1 – 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Another way to measure your protein intake is from calories. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) states that “on average, Canadians consume 17 per cent of their total calories from protein, but healthy adults can safely consume up to 35 per cent without risk of negative health effects.” If your protein source is coming from a supplement, make sure you calculate this based on the purity and the calorie content of each individual protein source.
Supplements versus “real food”
Many people are hesitant to opt for a supplement when there are many more natural sources of protein out there; however, according to the CSEP, “Supplements are no better than food sources of protein for gaining muscle, particularly if you are getting enough daily calories to meet energy needs.”
Many foods found at the grocery store are good sources of protein—eggs, milk, seafood, beans, and chicken, to name a few—but when you factor in the busy student lifestyle, a protein powder can be quicker and cheaper to use.
“They are convenient, and require no cooking time,” states a protein guide from website Muscle and Strength. “Protein supplements are also cost effective, and can provide an average serving cost far below that of beef, seafood, and even chicken.”
Dig in, and enjoy
If you haven’t checked out this week’s Mission Nutrition column yet, you’re in luck. There are some quick and easy ways to mix up your protein intake listed, because we know that just shaking it up with some water can get pretty boring, pretty quickly. Here are a few more recipes that couldn’t quite fit in the paper.
Oatmeal Raisin Protein Cookies
1/3 c. oats
1 scoop of vanilla protein
1 egg white
¼ cup applesauce
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
3 large eggs
3 tbsp. Oil
¼ cup heavy cream
5 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup of chopped fruit of your choice (blueberries, apples, raspberries, whatever!)
½ cup fat-free cream cheese
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix cream cheese and cinnamon into a small bowl, and mix eggs, oil and cream in a separate bowl. Add protein powder, baking power, and brown sugar into the cream mixture, stirring thoroughly. Combine both mixtures along with the berries, then pour into lined muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins begin to brown at the top.
Beefed up Burgers
1 lb ground beef
1 scoop flavourless protein powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Mix protein powder, salt, and pepper into ground beef. Form into 4-5 patties and cook in a frying pan for 5 minutes on either side. Add your favorite burger toppings, and dig in!