Knowledge Gains: The Beginner's Guide to Protein
So what’s this now?
Although whole foods should make up the majority of your diet, many people struggle to meet the recommended amounts. For most people who are looking to lose weight and/or gain muscle and taking part in regular exercise, this is roughly between 1.6-3g per kg of bodyweight.
Whereas some people think you need to go full Rocky and down cups of egg whites to get a good hit of protein, although this is optional (we do not condone this BTW!), to ensure you hit your calorie ‘budget’ Protein Powder can be a very useful tool. Not only are protein drinks affordable, easily digestible and versatile, they are also highly convenient, ready in seconds and can be mixed into smoothies, pancakes, brownies, the list goes on.
"How can protein powder help me?" we hear you ask. Well firstly, protein is the most satiating nutrient. Satiation, the feeling of fullness we get after eating, is obviously important to keep hunger at bay, which can be a problem if we are restricting calories to lose weight.
Secondly, protein has the highest thermal effect of food (TEF) of all macro-nutrients, by some margin. TEF is the amount of energy it takes to digest, absorb and store a nutrient, and protein has a TEF of around 30%. This means that whenever we eat a meal that contains protein, around one third of the calories are going to be expended directly through these processes helping to boost our energy expenditure and support weight loss.
Thirdly, protein has a muscle sparing effect. Therefore, whether you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle the most important thing we need to do is prevent muscle loss, and to do this we want to make sure we are eating enough protein to preserve muscle. if you can't do this through food alone, protein powder can be that icing on the cake that can see you preserving your hard gains.
"I don't have time for that" or "I don't want to drink my calories though". Not to worry!
Protein bars are a perfect on the go snack that can help you hit your calorie and protein goals without having to "drink your calories". Unlike typical chocolate bars, protein bars have fewer carbs and don't contain trans fats found in typical chocolate bars. Furthermore, thanks to ever improving food technology, creating a variety of nutrient dense and great tasting protein snacks means that bad tasting protein bars are yesterday’s news!
Firstly, any protein bar that provides 15 - 25 grams of protein or more is GOOD! So right off the bat you’re getting the benefit of a substantial amount of protein as you would, compared to a chocolate bar.
Secondly, the next thing to consider is fat content. Usually, a chocolate bar can range anywhere from 10 - 15 grams of fat. For example, a Galaxy bar has 13.5 grams of fat and a Malteaser teaser bar has 29.8 grams of fat. Generally, if a protein bar ranges from 1 - 12 grams of fat then that's GOOD!
Lastly, Carbs. most bars range anywhere from 12 - 20 grams of carbs. The bulkier bars, like flap jacks, will see you hitting the ranges of 40 - 60 grams of carbs per bar. There is not a definitively “Good” range to hit for carbs. However, when looking at carbs, we need to consider how much sugar and sugar alcohols there are in a bar? Let's consider a Snicker bar. Out of its 33 grams of carbs, a Snickers bar has 27 grams of sugar and zero sugar alcohol. In comparison, some protein bars with similar carbs numbers can only contain 1 gram of sugar and 5 grams of sugar alcohol.
Now here’s where it can get a little confusing. Most protein bars include dietary fiber. When looking at net carbs, dietary fiber is subtracted from the total carb count. This means that if you have 20 carbs in a bar and 9 grams of dietary fiber, your net carbs are 11 grams. Therefore allowing you more wiggle room to get your carbs in from other sources,
Luckily, we list nutrition information with all our products, so you can easily gauge how these can fit into your diet.
Straight Up Protein - Take Home Message
Whether you are a pro-athlete, new to the gym or just someone who's health conscience, to get any type of results you need to:
- remain consistent;
- maintain healthy eating habits; and
- have a good relationship with food.
You still need to be getting a balanced diet with carbs and fats, but adding in protein powders or protein bars will help with your fitness goals.
We hope you found this little guide helpful!
- The Letterbox Gains Team