Nutrition experts identify when a workout warrants a protein shake, and when you should just grab a banana

Consuming protein powder to boost workout and induce weight loss may otherwise backfire and may even be detrimental to the body’s overall well-being as such products are known to add processed ingredients into the diet, nutrition experts Nikki Ostrower and Maria Bella have warned. Bella is a registered dietitian and the founder of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City, while Ostrower is a nutrition expert and founder of NAO Nutrition in the same city.

According to the experts, the body burns three types of glycogen stores during exercise: glucose from carbohydrates, fatty acids from fat, and amino acids from protein. The nutritionists have stressed that the type of glycogen store being broken down depends on the intensity and type of exercise. The depleted glycogen stores then require replenishment from carbohydrates and protein in order to help the muscles rebuild following a workout, the experts have noted.

The nutritionists have also pointed out that obtaining enough protein after a workout is just as essential as the physical activity itself. Likewise, the experts have stressed on the importance of consuming protein well within 45 minutes after a vigorous workout. Bella suggests consuming between 20 and 30 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbs following a strength workout in order to promote tissue growth and repair.

“During cardio, most of the glycogen stores get depleted and having 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein helps replenish those. The cheapest choice is a can of tuna in water (roughly 25 grams of protein) and one apple (about 15 grams of protein),” Bella has stated in a Daily Mail article. According to the nutritionists, these are the types of foods that people might have consider if they want to opt out of using protein powder.

The experts also emphasized that not all people may require large doses of protein based on their workout routines and meal plans. The amount of protein required are dependent on the person’s body size and workout intensity, the experts have stated. As per the nutritionists, people can replenish their protein needs by eating mixed nuts, eggs, or a banana with peanut butter.

The nutritionists added that the body’s protein needs are also dependent on a person’s gender, weight, and workout frequency. The experts cited a previous study indicating that excessive protein intake may lead to an increased risk of heart disease in women. Ostrower suggests that women consume 70 to 80 grams of protein daily, while men should eat between 120 to 170 grams of protein per day.

Experts raise red flags on protein powder intake

The nutritionists have confirmed that consuming protein powder is an easily accessible and convenient way to obtain protein after a workout. However, they have also cautioned that reading the label is necessary to ensure that people are getting the right kind of powder.

“Protein is essential for tissue growth and repair. It’s about getting to know your body…Typically a lot of protein powders are processed. We really want to be conscious of reading the label,” according to Ostrower.

According to the researchers, it is important to take note of the ingredients contained in protein powders, and that variants containing a compound that is not pronounceable should be avoided altogether. Ostrower also recommends going for products that are organic or non-GMO.

“It is essential to select the correct type of protein powder: whey, casein, hemp, pea. I suggest selecting unflavored types to avoid extra coloring and ingredients. It is so easy to obtain enough protein from food that most people end up going over than staying under the recommended amounts…People have to do careful research on the shakes as they are not very well regulated in the United States,” Bella added.

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