Which is better, natural protein or protein powder?

Acquiring natural protein or protein powder has been a long debate for strengthening human body. It is a fact that Protein is necessary for the development of strong muscles. Protein powder shakes aren’t a perfect substitute for natural protein sources in your diet. Protein drinks, on the other hand, might be used to augment your diet and strength-training routine.

How does your body build muscle?

If you want to gain muscle, three things you need do are develop a strength-training fitness routine, consume a balanced diet, and make sure you’re getting enough protein.

Protein is a foodstuff that contains necessary amino acids, which are the “building blocks” of muscle tissue. Microtears in your muscles are caused by strength training, and these amino acids are needed in a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to repair and grow muscle tissue.

Gaining Muscle
Gaining Muscle

MPS leads to stronger and larger muscles that are better adapted to the strength exercises that caused the tears. This process is the reason why both strength training and protein are crucial for building muscle.

The importance of natural protein

Your main source of protein is your diet. For peak physical fitness, eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes enough protein-rich foods and other nutrients is essential. In order to optimise muscle building, try to include a source of protein in most of your meals.

Good sources of protein in food

  • Lean meats – including beef, pork, and lamb.
  • Poultry – including chicken, turkey, and duck.
  • Fish – including salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
  • Seafood – including prawns, crab, and scallops.
  • Dairy products – including cheese, milk, and yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt).
  • Eggs.
  • Nuts – including almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
  • Seeds – including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
  • Legumes and beans – including all beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Other meat-alternative products – including tofu, tempeh, and some cereal-based products.

Vegetarians and vegans should take note that plant-based natural sources contain less protein in a given volume than animal sources.

Healty Protein Foods
Healty Protein Foods

This implies that the necessary amino acids they contain are frequently utilised for other biological activities rather than MPS.

Protein powder or any other kind of supplementation, however, should not be used to completely replace plant-based natural protein sources. Natural protein obtained from food is required for cell repair and development in all areas of the body.

Natural protein sources also provide other essential nutrients including fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Is protein powder required for muscle growth?

This isn’t to imply that supplementing with protein in addition to natural protein isn’t beneficial. The major distinction is that only specific categories of people can benefit from dietary supplements.

Protein Powder
Protein Powder

Who can benefit from protein supplements?

  • Athletes and people who regularly strength train – for people with very high protein goals there is lots of evidence that protein supplements can help to maximise muscle gain, fat loss and exercise recovery.
  • People with health conditions meaning they require a high protein intake – for example, protein may improve blood sugar (glucose) levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Older adults – optimising protein intake could help to mitigate age-related muscle loss.
  • Some vegetarians and vegans – most natural protein sources are animal-based and so people following a plant-based diet might wish to increase their protein intake. Ball points out that many protein supplements are suitable for a wide range of diets, including plant-based.
Who can benefit from protein supplements?
Who can benefit from protein supplements?

One of the most popular types of protein supplementation is protein powder. These powders are easy to swallow because they are blended with liquid and available in a variety of flavors.

They provide concentrated protein sources, such as milk, eggs, soybeans, and peas, derived from either animal or plant meals. Protein content per scoop might range from 10 to 30 grams.

The three common forms of protein powder

  1. Protein concentrates – produced by extracting protein from food, using heat and acid or enzymes. These typically contain 60-80% protein, with the remaining 20-40% made up of fat and carbs.
  2. Protein isolates – involves an additional filtering process that removes more fat and carbs. These contain around 90-95% protein.
  3. Protein hydrolysates – includes further heating with acid or enzymes, breaking the bonds between amino acids and allowing quicker absorption into your body. Research shows that hydrolysates may raise insulin levels – an important hormone for protein muscles – more than other forms of protein, thereby enhancing muscle growth.

Pros and Cons of Protein Powder

Protein supplements, according to most experts, can help with strength training. Whey protein is the most widely used and most effective powder, for example.

Protein Powder
Protein Powder

It has been shown in studies to aid in the development and maintenance of muscle mass, as well as aid athletes in the recovery of hard exercise and boost muscular strength in response to strength training.

Plant-based protein powders, such as pea and soy protein, aren’t as effective as dairy protein powders, such as whey and casein, when it comes to MPS.

However, because plant-based natural protein has lower quantities of critical amino acids, vegetarians and vegans who are gaining strength may want to consider supplementing their protein intake.

There can also be additional health benefits: for example, soy protein powder is derived from soybeans, which helps boost the immune system and supports bone health.

If you’re considering taking protein powder to support strength training, there are benefits and limitations to consider. Deciding whether this additional source of protein is worth it may depend on several personal lifestyle factors and preferences.

However, you should consider if you want to resistance train frequently enough to justify the additional calories. Supplementation does not necessarily increase all muscular strength measures, according to several research, even in those who strength train consistently.

Benefits of protein powder

  • Convenience – simply mixing the powder with liquid to make protein shakes is easy and quick to consume. According to Ball, this makes protein powder particularly appealing for those with low appetites and for people with busy lives who don’t have time to prepare a whole meal.
  • Speed of absorption – protein shakes are absorbed more quickly than solid food. This is an important consideration for strength training, as consuming them directly after a workout can make them more effective for MPS.
  • Fat content – most have little or no fat content compared to protein-rich food, allowing for an effect focused largely on muscle tissue growth.
  • Quantity of protein – they provide a very high concentrate of all essential amino acids compared to the same serving size of natural protein. However, there are limits to how much protein you need for muscle strength. Muscles can only handle around 25-35 g of protein at a time. Excess protein from an overload in protein shakes will likely be used for other bodily functions.
There are limits to how much protein you need for muscle strength.
There are limits to how much protein you need for muscle strength.

Protein powder considerations

  • Lack of other nutrients – natural protein sources also offer essential vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and healthy fats unavailable in protein powder. As such, protein powder shouldn’t be taken as a replacement for food protein.
  • Unhealthy ingredients – unlike natural protein sources, they can contain preservatives, artificial colours, and added sugar, although this does vary between powders.
  • Safety concerns – Ball highlights that “there are some concerns regarding lead or heavy metal contamination”. In 2018, a report by Clean Label Project revealed that many protein powders contained harmful heavy metals and other toxins that are linked to health problems. Ball advises only purchasing from reputable suppliers.
  • Additional cost – protein powder could end up being a pricey additional cost on top of protein-rich food purchases.

The question of whether natural protein or protein powder is better not easy one.

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