Is protein powder right for you?

For athletes, gym-goers, fitness buffs, and anyone who may have kicked off the New Year with a new exercise routine, you might be wondering if you’re getting enough, or maybe even too much, protein. And you’d be right to question this. With increased activity and strength training comes an increased need for nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates — especially immediately following a workout.

The amount of protein you need following exercise depends on your body composition and type of workout, but will likely range between 15 and 25 grams. Just remember: You need water to digest protein, so if you’re consuming more protein, you’ll need to drink more water.

While it’s preferred to get protein and other nutrients from food, in some cases, a protein supplement such as whey protein powder is a convenient option for quick post-workout recovery. But what exactly is whey protein, and are protein supplements safe?

Well, for starters, whey comes from milk and is usually the by-product of cheese making — it’s the liquid part that separates from the curds. When compared to casein (the other protein found in milk), studies show that whey provides more muscle protein synthesis after exercise.

As for safety, it’s best to look for products that have been certified by a third-party quality assurance program, such as Consumer Lab, Informed-Sport, NSF, or USP. These labels mean that products have been tested to ensure the ingredients listed are accurate and contain no banned substances.

Try the below smoothie bowl, containing whey protein, for an on-the-go breakfast or post-workout snack.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1 banana, peeled and frozen

1 scoop Vanilla Whey Protein

1 (5.3 oz) non-fat Greek vanilla or strawberry yogurt

1/2 c. sliced strawberries or other fruit

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

1 tsp. chia or hemp seeds

Directions

• Blend banana, protein powder, and yogurt until smooth. Pour into 2 bowls or mason jars.

• Top with berries, nuts, seeds, or additional toppings as desired.

Nutrition facts per serving: 250 calories, 4g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 90mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 18g sugar, 22g protein

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Rachelle Deutz is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Marshall.

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