At Riverside BodyScan we adopt a food-first, supplement-second approach to nutrition. However, there may be some instances where a protein powder can be incorporated into a healthy balanced diet for an active individual. Its important to remember that protein powders are a supplement, and should therefore be used to supplement a healthy diet, not replace whole meals or real food. 

What are some reasons to use a protein powder?

Before buying a protein powder it’s important to ask yourself what your nutrition and body composition goals are, whether you need to be taking it or whether a wholefood option such as greek yoghurt, chicken, fish or meat may be more suitable, and whether it is safe to consume. Working alongside one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians here at Riverside BodyScan is a great place to start.

Some reasons for using a protein powder may include:

  1. Ease of use: Sometimes a protein powder can be convenient for those who may lead a busy lifestyle or may not have time to cook or prepare a whole-food source of protein. For example adding a scoop of protein powder to your morning smoothie is quicker than cooking eggs some mornings. 
  2. Muscle building: We know that consuming protein directly after a heavy strength session and every 3-5 hours after for the next 24-48hrs helps to promote the growth of new muscle. 
  3. Boosting the protein content of a meal: One of your targets after a heavy exercise session should be 20-40g of protein. To achieve this you would need to eat 4-8 whole eggs. Eating two eggs (which is more realistic) and adding a serve of protein powder is a great way to bump up the protein intake of a meal that would otherwise be inadequate.

How to pick a good protein powder

Here are a few boxes to tick when choosing a protein powder:

  1. Make sure there is enough protein per serve: Aim for 20-30g of protein per serve.
  2. Make sure there is enough Leucine in it: Leucine is an amino acid, a building block of protein. Studies show it is super important in ‘switching on’ muscle protein building in the muscles after exercise. The magic number is 2-3g of leucine per serve. This is especially important to look for in plant-based protein powders as they are typically lacking in leucine compared to whey-based or milk-derived protein powders
  3. Make sure it contains High Biological Value Protein (HBV): This means that the protein powder contains all the essential amino acids we need to build muscle. These typically come from animal-derived proteins such as whey, milk and egg, but also includes some soy protein. Plant-based proteins usually lack one of the essential amino acids needed by the body so we call them low biological value. If you are lactose intolerant, vegetarian or vegan these can still be a good option for you but may need to be supplemented. Whey protein powders are also rapidly digested which means they get to work faster in the body!

 

QUICK TIPS TO SKIP THE ADDITIONAL CRAP:

Be savvy and read the ingredients when purchasing a protein powder. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing such as those that promote “rapid weight loss”.

Be wary of extensive ingredient lists filled with caffeine, glucose, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, thickeners and fillers. Try to choose one with stevia as it’s the most natural sweetener available.

Here at Riverside BodyScan we prefer brands such as True Protein and the Balance Naturals range! Some protein powders made overseas can also be contaminated with heavy metals!