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Nutritional Benefits of Protein Supplements for Sports

We don’t need to use protein sports supplements to get enough protein in our diets but a sports nutrition supplement is an easy way to boost your protein intake. Since many of us don’t eat an ideal diet, supplements can help us maintain good health. Protein helps us build and maintain muscle mass and your heart is a muscle. Without adequate protein intake, your heart may not function properly.

Athletes are often particularly interested in sports supplements containing protein because studies show they can help build muscle mass. Protein also gives us energy and helps keep our blood sugars stable, helping to decrease fatigue and food cravings.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

Different health care and fitness professionals have differing opinions about how much protein we need. Some suggest that athletes need as much as one gram of protein per pound of body weight but others believe that’s much more than people need and possibly even too much for good health. Another commonly cited formula is half a gram per pound of ideal body weight (not current body weight), minus ten. That means if your ideal weight is 140 pounds, you’d need about 60 grams of protein per day.

Most people are able to get adequate protein from foods they eat since a wide variety of foods contain protein. Foods with protein include meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and lentils, nuts, tofu and other soy products. If you have a tendency to skip meals sometimes or eat a lot of fast food or junk food or otherwise don’t maintain the healthiest of diets, a sports nutrition supplement might be helpful for you. They are convenient and many brands are pretty tasty.

Some supplements contain large amounts of protein, as much as 50 grams in one nutritional shake. However, it’s unlikely that you need a sports nutrition supplement with that much protein. It’s important to spread out your protein intake over the course of the day so you probably don’t need to take in that much protein at one time. However, you could take half of the supplement in the morning and half in the afternoon.

Types of Protein Sports Supplements

There are different types of protein you might find in a sports nutrition supplement. Perhaps the most common are whey isolate and whey concentrate. Both are made from milk but whey isolate has been processed in such a way that its lactose free, making it a good choice for lactose intolerant people. Both whey isolate and whey concentrate protein supplements are absorbed well. Supplements containing soy isolate and egg white protein are also good choices.

Some protein supplements offer a large amount of protein in a small amount of liquid, such as 40 grams of protein in about three ounces of flavored liquid. However, these supplements contain mostly or only collagen protein, which is an incomplete protein. It doesn’t have all the amino acids we need so it’s not the best choice for a protein supplement.

Some sports supplements are low in calories, fat and sugar but some are not. Just because you purchase something labeled as a nutritional supplement for sports, that does not necessarily mean it’s healthy for you. You should also be aware that some sports supplements contain ingredients like vitamins, minerals and herbs, which sound healthy but may not really be good for you in large quantities. Herbs can have side effects, as well, and can also interact with any medications you might take. Some supplements also contain caffeine in order to boost your energy level when working out or playing sports. Just make sure to read the label carefully to make sure you’re getting the type of sports nutrition supplement you want.