When it comes to your diet, proteins are absolutely necessary! Proteins are needed for more than muscle building – they play a critical role in every cellular function AND are they make up the essential structure of your cells, antibodies (immune system) and all enzymes in your body.
Proteins made up of smaller units called amino acids, which in all there are 20 different types. 9 of these are “essential” – which means your body doesn’t make them and they must be obtained directly through your diet. Essential amino acid deficiency is unfortunately quite common among Americans. It often presents as a basic digestive disorder (heart burn, gas, bloating, reflux) or fatigue and/or depression. Sadly, most of us don’t associate these symptoms with protein deficiency.
Standard dietary suggestions of protein intake for adults is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight – which averages to 55grams per day for men and 45- grams to day for women. As you can imagine, this is the MINIMUM proteins to prevent deficiencies, so most individuals will need to consume more.
Functional dietary suggestions of protein intake is a bit more individualized and can daily protein requirements can be found by coming 1⁄2 of your lean body weight (lbs) in grams of protein daily. Lean body weight is calculated by taking total weight, minus % of fat in lbs. IE 180lb individual with 15% body fat (27lbs of fat) has a lean body weight of 153lbs, thus requiring 76g of protein daily.
Considering the average piece of chicken/meat has ~25grams of protein you can see why protein powders/smoothies are a convenient way to ensure you are reaching your ideal protein intake. But with so many protein powders on the market it can feel overwhelming (do you get the one with the most reviews, lowest price, highest price, most ingredients, least ingredients etc). To put it simply, not all protein powders are created equal – and in some cases many of them can cause more harm than good!
Whey protein is the most popular forms of all protein powder – mostly due to the research connecting whey protein with boosted immune function (beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin and other immunoglobulins), enhanced detoxification (encourages glutathione production), muscle building (branched chain amino acids) and blood sugar stabilization.
Since whey comes from dairy, choose only a grass fed, organic (ideally raw) protein powder that is 100% whey protein concentrate (not isolates or hydrolyzed isolates or blends of concentrate/isolate – which are inferior qualities of whey protein). Also watch out for hidden ingredients such as other protein types (soy), artificial sweeteners and or sugars as well as bulking fibers. Price can also be an indicator to the protein quality – be mindful of anything sold in a container with 30 or more servings that is less than $40-50.
Plant based protein powders do carry the essential amino acids and proteins needed but also come with a heavy warning – they also tend to have more pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals than their whey counterparts.
The KING of plant protein is pea protein – as pea protein is one of the only plant sources to contain all 20 essential amino acids (including the 9 essential) and it’s a protein power not derived from common allergen sources (soy, rice or nut-based protein powders). Pea protein, compared to other plant proteins, is high in lysine – which converts into L-Carnitine when consumed – which helps to drive fatty acid metabolism (AKA – it helps your body burn fat for energy). Another benefit of plant-based protein powders is they tend to absorb slower than whey – helping people to feel full longer – making plant proteins an ideal source for meal replacement drinks.
The second-best plant protein is HEMP – derived from hemp seeds, which have high levels of healthy fat- ty acids (gamma linolenic acid) that has been connected with reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars and enhancement of the digestive and immune systems. Hemp based protein powers are available or, alternatively, you can easily add hemp seeds directly to any other type of protein drinks.
Animal Protein (Bone Broth Protein)
The newest “protein” on the block is bone broth protein powers. Hailed as being “liquid gold” – bone broth is an excellent source of protein and is one of the world’s oldest and most powerful medicines. But…. most people have a hard time making (and consuming) it on a regular basis. Due to their popularity now, like whey proteins, you have to be careful when choosing a bone broth protein powder – mostly due to the type of bones used (beef, chicken, pork etc) and the feeding conditions of those animals (conventional: corn fed vs Organic: corn fed, vs Grass Fed)
The majority of bone broth proteins, in my opinion, are not worth their weight in gold because they are made with inexpensive, conventionally fed chicken bones and or feet. There are a few beef bone broth proteins available, but again they are mostly made with corn fed conventional beef bones.
A better bone broth protein? A bone broth protein made with HydroBEEF TM would be my choice of bone broth proteins (after making and consuming your own bone broth that is). HydroBEEF is a highly concentrated beef protein sourced from animals raised in Sweden, grass fed, with no hormones, antibiotics or vaccines. What’s best is this isn’t protein just from the bones, but also from the cartilage, connective tis- sues and skin! (aka collagen peptides etc). Additionally, HydroBEEF proteins are split microproteins (two or more amino acids linked together) which allows for easier absorption and assimilation.
Bone broth proteins have been shown to help reduce inflammation, repair leaky gut, aid in normal joint motion and repair as well as detoxify the liver.