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23.6.2016

What is protein good for? Should I buy it?

Currently, protein is a frequently discussed topic, mainly when speaking about the fitness industry and weight loss. People often buy it and they don´t know what it is actually for. Lucia Žuffová, our FIT UP! trainer, will tell you more about protein. First of all, we should say what protein actually is. It is a basic macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fat) which serves as a building unit in our body. However, the term "protein" is also internationally known as the name of a food supplement rich in proteins. As a personal trainer, I daily hear things like:
  • I want to lose weight and a friend of mine has recommended me to buy protein.
  • I have started exercising so I have bought protein.
Even though it contains only a low percentage of fat and carbs, protein is no magic drink which will help you lose weight. There is nothing like a magic slimming cocktail. It is only a myth. Losing weight depends on everything you eat in a day, in addition to the protein. If you eat food which only pretends to be light, such as zwieback, muesli bars, oat porridges, rice breads, and the mentioned protein, believing that you are losing weight, I am sorry to disappoint you. In this way you will lose mainly muscle mass and, in the end, you will look even worse – like a shaking jelly - because when you do not eat enough proteins, it is difficult for your body to burn fat and often it will use protein from your muscles instead of fat, so you´ll not be losing fat but muscles. If you start to exercise, it is also necessary to have some protein intake.


So, when should we buy protein?


First of all, when you have found out that you do not have a sufficient protein intake from your common daily meals. Recommendations about the necessary daily protein intake differ. Let´s round it off to 1g proteins per one kilo of bodyweight for an adult. This means that if you are a woman who weighs 60 kg your daily intake should be about 60g proteins. It is natural that men or people who do more sport need more proteins, so the daily protein intake differs and it is often above 2g per one kilo of bodyweight, which I don´t recommend though. (Unless you are a body-builder on a hardcore diet). However, I understand that if you are an ordinary person who is only just finding out things about nutrition, you have no idea how many proteins you might be taking. To learn it, it is my recommendation to use the kaloricketabulky.sk web page where you write what you have eaten and you will see how many proteins, carbs and fat it contains.


What are the advantages of including protein as a food supplement in my diet?


It is enough to have a look at the offer in our grocery stores or at the selection of fast foods. If we want to eat something quickly, we grab biscuits, chocolate or, in healthier cases, some fruit. However, those are sources of quick carbs or fat, but no protein. In such case a protein drink is ideal. Its preparation is extremely quick and easy. You only mix protein powder in water and drink it. It is also a very cheap source of proteins if we compare it e.g. with meat. To give 20g proteins to our body, we would have to eat 100g of chicken meat, but you only need 25g of protein powder and you will have the same amount of proteins, which is great. So how to choose the right protein from the wide selection on the market?

Protein drinks have various percentages of protein content, so how to choose the right one?
  • protein drinks with a protein content higher than 90%– they are the best quality products you can buy. They are most suitable for supplementing proteins in a diet mode, they have the lowest amount of carbs and fat, but they are usually the most expensive.
  • protein drinks with a protein content from 75% to 90%– they contain some carbs and fat, but only minor amounts. About 2g in a 30g dose, which is really not worth mentioning. But they are a great choice.
  • protein drinks with a protein content from 50% to 74%– I would recommend such kinds of protein drinks to people who do not wish to lose weight but rather to maintain it. Protein drinks with the lowest protein content are suitable for those who wish to put on weight. Protein drinks with good composition may also serve as a full-value substitute of e.g. one meal per day.


  • What protein sources are used in protein drinks?


    The most frequently sold ones are whey (milk) protein drinks. They are affordable, very usable and tasty. We divide them into:
    • Whey hydrolysate is the best quality of protein drinks you can buy. Hydrolysate wheat is partially predigested and the human body can thus use it better. Its disadvantage is its high price and often bad, bitter taste (since it is a predigested product).
    • Whey isolate is divided into two sub-groups depending on the production type:
      • Microfiltered whey isolate(CFM). It contains 90-95% proteins and minimum fat and carbs, it is well tolerated by the human body and easily digested also by those with lactose intolerance.
      • Ion-exchange whey isolate. It is produced from fresh sweet whey. It does not contain any fat or lactose and is perfectly usable.
    • Whey concentrate is the most frequently sold kind of protein due to its price and its relatively good usability. It contains more fat and carbs than isolate and hydrolysate.
    In addition to whey protein drinks, you may choose from among other ones as well: egg, soya, beef, rice, hemp, etc. It is also suitable to choose your protein depending on when you wish to have it - if immediately after your workout or as a food supplement. In such case, we divide proteins depending on the speed of their absorption.

    Based on the speed of their absorption, proteins may be divided into:
    • quick proteins (whey and hydrolysate proteins). They are most suitable after your workout or if you need to take quick proteins which are absorbed easily.
    • proteins with gradual absorption (multicomponent proteins). Ideal throughout the whole day, e.g. as a substitute for one meal.
    • slow proteins (particularly casein proteins) are recommended mainly for night time.
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