For humans to function optimally our body requires two types of nutrients in right amounts, micronutrients and macronutrients. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are called macronutrients as they make a large portion of the food we eat. Micronutrients are what our body needs in smaller amounts and without them our body cannot function. These are vitamins, minerals and secondary plant compounds.
The word protein comes from the Greek word ‘protos’, meaning ‘prime importance’. Protein is needed to build lean muscle, help muscle repair and recovery, maintain healthy skin, hair and nails and boost your immune system. Protein is made of important amino acids that are the building blocks of human growth and development. It is so important that we are getting the recommended amount of protein we need daily.
Supplements seem like a great idea for people who want to have an active healthy life, they are a great way to build muscle and burn fat. Protein powders can add a nutritional boost to a smoothie and using it as part of a balanced diet may help you accomplish your fitness and health goals. Protein powders do have their risks and may have the potential to cause more harm than good.
A lot of people have a false idea of what is good quality protein and what isn’t. Good quality protein includes organic chicken and organic beef (grass-fed), fish, organic eggs, beans, quinoa, plain yogurt, nuts, seeds, peas and lentils.
A lot of people want to ‘eat clean’ but then consume protein powders and protein bars which are high in sugar, high in soy and dairy, artificial sweeteners and colouring which completely contradicts what ‘clean eating’ really is. Makes you think doesn’t it?
Some protein drinks contain metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium, which have toxic effects on the body. This is especially harmful to pregnant women and children who use poor quality protein powders that contain these harmful toxins. A lot of people are then substituting protein bars and shakes for meals and eating extremely high amounts of protein without knowing what that does to your body. Replacing whole meals with protein alone isn’t going to do any wonders for your health. This is because it doesn’t contain any vitamins and mineral. The reason is that you need other nutrients in your diet as well, such as carbohydrates and fats. Our daily protein requirements depend on our size, age and how much exercise we are doing. One way to work out our minimum daily protein requirement is to multiply our body weight in kilograms by 0.8. This is how much protein we need daily. Our body can break down 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour and if we are consuming more then that, our body will convert it to fat or it will be excreted.
The most common protein sources that are used in protein powders are egg, whey, soy and wheat gluten. Soy and gluten promote inflammatory reactions within the body and are highly allergenic. Whey concentrate is one of the least expensive sources because it has fillers, which has side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain and flatulence. Since whey protein comes from milk, it is unfit for consumption by people suffering from lactose intolerance. It may trigger allergic reactions like skin rashes, sneezing and itching. Undigested whey protein reside can build up in the liver and kidneys, over time this will cause damage to these organs. When the body has excessive amounts of protein the kidneys have to filter these wastes to eliminate them from the body. Too much protein can build up in the kidneys and lead to the formation of kidney stones or calcium deposits.
Due to the side effects that these protein powders have it is important to choose one that is going to benefit your health. One of my favourite sources of protein is pea protein, it works effectively to regulate the appetite and encourage significant weight loss. Pea protein delivers large amounts of the necessary branched chain amino acids compared to other sources of protein. Pea protein is 100% gluten and allergen free.
Julia and I use a product called ‘Clean Lean Protein‘ by a company called Nu Zest. This product is made from pea protein, in fact it has the worlds highest source of vegetable protein. It is highly absorbable, alkalizing, low allergenic and contains no bad stuff. If you want to eat a healthy clean diet then this product is the best on the market. My favourite flavour is vanilla, I add a scoop to my smoothie every day and even use it in pancakes and muffins.