Protein Powder Mistakes
Protein powder can be a valuable tool for fitness — used properly, it can improve your nutrition and even help you lose weight. A protein shake in the morning can keep you feeling full all morning long, and it’s a lot easier and healthier than other quick breakfast options, like high-carb pastries and cereals
Protein Powder Mistakes
But, if you don’t use protein supplements correctly, you can undermine your own efforts to be healthier.
Mistakes like filling protein shakes with unhealthy ingredients, buying cheap protein powders, and using protein powders at the wrong times can make it hard to lose weight, build muscle, or reach other fitness goals. Avoid these protein powder mistakes, so you can get the most from your use of protein powders.
1. Using Too Much Protein Powder
Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels between meals. It’s the building block of muscle tissue, too, so if you’re hoping to bulk up, you need more of it than the average person — at least 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight.
You would think that the more protein you eat, the stronger your muscles will get, and the better your recovery times post-workout.
But that’s not necessarily true. Once you reach the 1-1.5-gram threshold (for bodybuilding) or the 0.36-gram-per-pound threshold (for everyone else), adding more protein is just adding more calories that you don’t need if you’re trying to lose weight and/or look cut. Plus, too much protein can be bad for your health.
Use the serving size suggestion when adding protein powder to food and shakes, and keep track of how much protein you’re getting in your diet.
2. Buying Cheap Protein Powders
Cheap protein powders often don’t contain the amino acids your body needs for growth: branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and leucine.
Cheap supplements may also be higher in fats and carbs, which may not be ideal for your fitness journey. They may also be made with cheap protein sources, like whey, which is digested very quickly and therefore isn’t as useful for stabilizing blood sugar, since it can actually cause insulin spikes (which could have its own benefits but that is for another article).
It’s worth it to spend a little more to buy a quality protein powder made with a protein source that can help you meet your goals.
3. Adding Unhealthy Ingredients to Your Protein Shake
Whether it’s dried fruit and full-fat yogurt, bananas, or peanut butter, the urge to add high-calorie ingredients to a protein shake is strong.
But, while ingredients like peanut butter and dried fruit aren’t necessarily unhealthy in moderation, you’ll reach your fitness goals faster if you use low-sugar and low-calorie ingredients, like unsweetened coconut milk or fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, in your protein shakes.
4. Replacing Meals
Grabbing a shake for breakfast once in a while is one thing, especially if you have trouble eating when you first wake up. Using protein shakes to replace a meal or two can help you lose weight, but drinking a protein shake is never going to really satisfy you and fill you up the way sitting down to a proper meal can.
A healthy, balanced meal of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will include other nutrients, like fats and fiber, that keep you feeling full, as well as the vitamins and minerals you need.
5. Drinking Protein Shakes at the Wrong Times
It’s probably a myth that if you don’t drink a protein shake within 30 minutes after your workout, your muscles won’t be able to absorb the protein.
The window for protein intake when muscles are repairing is a bit longer than that — at least a few hours, according to a recent review of the research.
But a protein shake is not really the ideal way to fortify yourself before a workout. Instead, try a high-protein snack, like an omelet, to fuel your body pre-workout. A little food will feel more satisfying and sit more easily in your stomach while you’re working out.
Protein powders can be a great source of extra nutrition, whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, get more fit, or just eat better.
Use them wisely, so you can maximize their health benefits.