Protein powders and supplements have been the staple of bodybuilders for decades. Today, nearly all types of athletes and fitness enthusiasts can benefit from consuming more protein. With the growing popularity of protein powders, you can buy them almost anywhere.

You no longer have to shop at a supplement store to buy a protein powder. Nearly all supermarkets, pharmacies and large online retailers sell some sort of protein supplement.

If you were to do a search on Amazon, you will find over 22,000 results for ‘protein powder’.

Protein powders are clearly popular but are they necessary?

Necessary is a probably the wrong word. In reality, no one really ‘needs’ a protein supplement. That being said, that doesn’t mean that they don’t offer any benefits. By definition, a supplement is something that fills in a deficiency or enhances the effects of something.

Types of Protein Powders

Today we have more options than ever. Here are the most popular types of protein powders available:

  • Milk Proteins- Whey and Casein
  • Egg Protein
  • Plant Based/Vegan Protein- Soy, Rice, Pea etc.
  • Beef Protein
  • Protein Blends

Reasons to use a Protein Powder

 

You don’t get enough protein from your diet.

If you don’t get enough protein from food, the body will not recover optimally.

Athletes like to consume more protein than sedentary people. This is because athletes have higher demands for recovery.

When you workout at the gym, you break down muscle. When you rest, the body uses the amino acids from protein to repair and recover.

For optimal muscle recovery, most people could benefit from 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. If you eat a lower protein diet like most people, adding a protein supplement can help you consume enough.

For example, if your goal is to consume 200 grams of protein per day and with your current diet, you only get 150 grams, you can add 2 scoops of protein to close in the gap of 50 grams.

If you get enough protein from high-quality sources, you don’t need to supplement with protein.

Convenience

Protein powders are a convenient way of adding protein to your diet. Not all of us have time to prepare and eat a protein rich meal.

1 scoop of protein has about 22-25 grams of high-quality protein, which can be consumed within seconds. On the other hand, if you were to cook some chicken and eat it, it would take you much longer.

For people who are trying to eat more frequent meals in a day, a protein shake can be a good convenient snack. Almost anyone can add in a protein supplement without making any major changes to their diet.

If you’re Vegetarian or Vegan

One of the biggest concerns for vegetarians and vegans is not getting enough protein. Getting enough protein from vegetarian and vegan sources can be difficult because most of these sources contain more carbohydrates and fats than protein.

For example, beans are considered to be good sources of protein. While this is true, they have a lot more carbs than protein.

Protein in Pinto Beans Vegan

Beans are rich in protein but are more of a carbohydrate source

Even milk, which is considered as one of the best sources of protein has more calories from carbs and fat than protein.

1 cup of whole milk has:

  • 8 Grams of Protein – 32 Calories (4 Cal/gram)
  • 12 Grams of Carbohydrates – 44 Calories (4 Cal/gram)
  • 8 Grams of Fats – 72 Calories (9 Cal/gram)
Protein in Milk Vegetarian

Milk is a good source of protein but has more calories from fats and carbs

Most vegetarian and vegan sources of protein are considered as incomplete proteins.

Protein supplies our bodies with the Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) which can only be obtained from food. Most vegan sources of protein don’t have all of the essential amino acids. The way to work around this is to combine different incomplete sources of protein to get all of the essential amino acids. All this may not be practically feasible for everyone.

Fortunately, there are many vegetarian and vegan protein powders available today. For vegetarians who consume dairy, whey protein can be a great option.

For vegans, a plant protein blend with multiple sources of protein would be best.

Cost

If you live outside of the USA, this might not be applicable to you. Protein powders usually cost much more in other countries because of shipping and taxes.

In the USA, you can easily get 1 serving of quality protein for about $0.5-$1. This can be cheaper per serving/gram of protein than food sources such as meat.

Protein powders can be a great option for students or people on a tight budget to get the highest quality protein at a lower cost.

Taste

Protein shakes can satisfy your sweet tooth

Protein shakes can satisfy your sweet tooth

Most protein powders available today taste quite good. These can be often used to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming sugar. This is especially tru while dieting. If you are not consuming a lot of calories, it can be hard to fit in chocolate or ice cream into your diet. Protein powders are usually only about 100 calories per serving.

There are so many ways of consuming protein powder. If you don’t feel like drinking it, you can add it to your oatmeal, make protein bars, protein brownies and more. The possibilities are endless.

We also have more varieties and flavors than ever before. You could even buy an unflavored protein powder if you want. I use them from time to time.

Conclusion

A protein powder is NOT necessary for muscle growth if you get enough protein from food.

Reasons to use a protein supplement:

  • You don’t get enough from food
  • You’re Vegetarian of Vegan
  • Convenience
  • Cost
  • Taste

Do you use a protein supplement? Comment below!