Where does your mind go when you hear the words: protein powder? Maybe images of extremely muscular individuals doing an intense weightlifting session at the gym. Even though 'protein bro' memes are everywhere, protein is really important for us to maintain and grow tissue and muscle, and it’s even used to create hormones in our body.1
You may already know that even though not all protein powders are regulated, they do have some health benefits. For example, a higher intake of protein may be useful for people that engage in strength training as studies have shown that higher protein intakes have a positive effect on size gains in these individuals.1
But even though protein powders are a hot topic in fitness and popular culture, there is a lot that scientists are still learning about them. Here are 3 things that you probably didn't know about protein powders!
#1 You Can Cook with Protein Powders
Many of us have seen the classic shaker bottles that are used to dissolving protein powder in water or milk (or even taking a dry scoop out of desperation). Although this is an extremely popular method of consuming the product, there are other methods to consume it too.
You can also cook with protein powders! There are some concerns about cooking with whey protein (a popular type of protein powder), as one study says when whey is heated at or above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts to break down in a way that makes it harder for your body to digest and use.2
However, when you cook, the internal temperature of the food is typically lower than the temperature of the pan's temperature. Sports dietician Marni Sumbal suggests mixing up your consumption of protein powder if you are using the product; try cooking the powder into some of your meals and drinking it as a shake on other occasions.3
#2 There are Plant-Based Protein Powders Too
Whey powder is one of the most common protein powders but there are numerous protein powders on the market; it's hard to even get a count on how many are out there! Whey is largely regarded as a good choice because it has a rating of 1 on the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).1
The PDCAAS score refers to how easily a protein is digested by us and how many essential amino acids it contains.1 The scale ranges from 0 to 1 and a score of 1 means that the protein is easily broken down by our body and contains all the amino-acids that we require.1
However, whey comes from straining curdled cow's milk, meaning it isn't suitable for vegans. The good news is that there are multiple options for vegan protein powders! Soy is a particularly interesting option because it also has a PDCAAS score of 1.1 There are also brown rice and pea protein powders that are vegan and available on the market.4
If you decide to opt for a protein powder, make sure you do some research on the brand and type you are looking into. All these protein powders are different and are not regulated in Canada. Additionally, make sure you are consuming appropriately as early research suggests that excessive protein intakes may be harmful.5
#3 Protein Powder May Help Reduce Malnutrition
Because protein is an important part of our diet, it helps make sure that our development is normal. However, malnutrition is commonly known problem around the world.
One study found that an ocean-based advance protein powder (APP) ensured normal body growth, bone development, and brain function in mice.6 Scientists hope that this research can help them use APP to potentially reduce malnutrition in children worldwide.6 However, more research is required to determine if the effects the protein powder will behave the same as it does in mice.
Researchers are trying to learn more about protein powders so that they can give you a chance to be the healthiest you that you can be! Consider volunteering your time to join a study examining protein powder to help researchers understand more about this complex and potentially beneficial substance.
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1. Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ. Protein – Which is Best? J Sports Sci Med. 2004;3(3):118-130.
2. Desrosiers T, Savoie L. Extent of damage to amino acid availability of whey protein heated with sugar. J Dairy Res. 1991;58(4):431-441. doi:10.1017/s002202990003003x
3. Does freezing or cooking protein powder ruin it? Men’s Journal. Published February 23, 2017. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/does-freezing-or-cooking-protein-powder-ruin-it/
4. admin. Pros And Cons Of Different Protein Powders. Fit Colony. Published June 30, 2017. Accessed June 28, 2021. http://fitcolony.com/pros-cons-different-protein-powders/
5. When it comes to protein, how much is too much? Harvard Health. Published May 9, 2018. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/when-it-comes-to-protein-how-much-is-too-much
6. Wong CP, Bray TM, Khanna SK. Growth, Bone Health, and Cognition: Nutritional Evaluation of a Sustainable Ocean-Based Advance Protein Powder (APP). Ecol Food Nutr. 2019;58(2):80-92. doi:10.1080/03670244.2019.1565759