Protein shakes and supplements have grown in popularity over the past several years. And while protein consumption is important for building and repairing muscle tissue, growing healthy hair and fingernails, boosting your immune system and replacing red blood cells, too much protein leads to storing glycogen or fat. So how much protein should you consume? And should you be getting your protein from powders and supplements?
Liz Vermilya, Dietitian at Olmsted Medical Center, says, “Protein consumption can vary based on your level of activity. Endurance athletes need to consume more than individuals with a sedentary lifestyle.” She says an athlete should consume about 0.6 or 0.7 grams of protein per body weight pound. So, a 140 pound person should consume approximately 84 grams of protein per day. However, someone who is sedentary should consume only 0.5 grams of protein per body weight or 70 grams of protein per day.
The daily allotment of protein should be consumed throughout the day starting with breakfast. Vermilya says, “Protein powder does have its place, but it doesn’t have to be used because you can get protein through the food you eat. And actually, protein powders lack some of the nutrients found in real food.”
She says a protein rich breakfast consists of 6 ounces of Greek yogurt with two tablespoons of honey or one egg with an ounce of cheese, that’s about 14-20 grams of protein to start your day. For lunch, add four ounces of salmon to your garden salad. And for dinner, opt for a four ounce chicken breast that equals about 27 grams of protein. For vegetarians, nut butters and legumes are good alternatives to meat.
Protein powders can be the perfect snack after an intense workout or if you’re on the go with little time for a meal. However, protein powders should not be used daily as a meal replacement. Vermilya says, “Protein powders are also beneficial for those 50 years and older because that age group doesn’t consume as many calories, and therefore are not getting the daily recommendation of protein.”
If you are determined to consume protein powders, Vermilya suggests using high quality proteins like whey, casein or soy. She says, “It’s also important to check the label and make sure the protein powder isn’t loaded with excess sugars.”