Diet

What Happens To Your Body When You Use Protein Powder Every Day?

Protein powder is not just for fitness aficionados. It’s a convenient protein source to help you meet your daily protein needs. And since protein is (generally) universally beneficial – increased satiety after a meal, metabolic boost, and muscle-building potential – using protein powder is an easy option to hit your daily goals.

How much protein you need daily depends on your body size and activity level. You may worry that too much protein is bad for you or that it will cause weight gain, luckily, that’s just not the case. Here’s why.

Is It OK to Use Protein Powder Every Day?

Protein is an essential nutrient we must get from our diet. It’s vital to optimal health, growth and development, and providing energy. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This lower-end number will prevent deficiencies.

However, most people (and especially athletes) may benefit from increasing their protein intake to reap the benefits. Fortunately, scientists have studied the effects of a very high-protein diet and found no harmful effects. So you can rest assured eating more protein (in most cases) will not have harmful effects.

“Protein powder can be an easy, practical way to increase protein intake,” reports Registered Dietitian Erik Bustillo. “As a practitioner, I have seen many individuals who are not meeting their protein needs to support recovery from training. Powders make it more doable, and they can also taste good.”

It is safe to use protein powder every day. Protein powder is derived from whole food sources including dairy, soy, peas, rice, and eggs, amongst others. “Think of protein powders as a broken down, easy-to-consume form of the protein you find in milk, eggs, peas, etc.,” notes Bustillo.

And while exercise is beneficial for everyone, you don’t have to work out to use protein powder. Bustillo explains, “Exercise is not a requirement to use protein powders or to eat enough protein; in fact, being alive (or as I say, surviving and thriving) makes consuming adequate protein a requirement, and protein powders help with this.”

“There is nothing inherently wrong with using protein powder every day or without exercise, but for most people, it shouldn’t replace meals,” explains Marissa Gaab, MS, RD, LDN. “Whether your powder is derived from cow’s milk, hemp, or pea — it is often stripped of most micronutrients, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates.”

For that reason, if you plan to use protein powder in place of a meal, you’ll want to create balance by adding a carbohydrate and fat source. An example would be making protein oatmeal for breakfast by combining dry oats, a scoop of protein powder, a dash of salt, and some water. Microwave and top with peanut butter or almonds (as your fat source).

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Benefits of Using Protein Powder Every Day

Whether you prefer plant or animal based protein powder makes no difference. Using protein powder every day offers significant health benefits – the key is to actually use it.

Helps Build and Maintain Muscle

You lose approximately 3-8% of your muscle mass every decade beginning at age 30. If you’re on a low-calorie diet this number could be greater. This is because over time people become more sedentary, hormones change, and their diet changes which do not support muscle growth or maintenance.

Maintaining a higher-protein diet as you age and continuing or starting a weight-bearing workout routine will help you build and maintain muscle mass. A review studying the effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults found that using protein powder every day combined with a solid weight-lifting routine is an effective way to build and maintain muscle mass.

For those following a weight loss diet, some research suggests that keeping protein high with a moderate calorie deficit will prevent loss of muscle, and preserve energy and performance. However, when you are in a calorie deficit it’s hard not to lose some muscle.

Improves Satiety

Feeling full and satisfied after a meal is essential for maintaining healthy body weight and a healthy relationship with food. If you’re not satisfied, you’re more likely to find yourself looking for something else to eat after you’ve already eaten.

A high-protein diet has been shown to improve satiety while following a weight-loss diet.

Since whole-food protein sources help us feel full and satisfied, does that mean protein powder has the same effect? Absolutely. A systematic review with meta-analysis on the impact of protein supplementation on appetite and energy intake found that protein supplements are an effective way to suppress appetite and increase total daily protein intake.

Quality Protein Source

It’s not always easy to reach your protein goals. Using protein powder can add variety and convenience to your increased protein efforts.

The type of protein powder you choose (animal or plant-based) will determine the amino acids included in the supplement. Animal-based protein powders (think whey protein or egg protein) contain all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein and muscle. Essential amino acids must be consumed in our diet.

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Soy protein powder also contains all nine essential amino acids. Other plant-based protein powders may contain a combination of proteins to fill in the gaps. More research is needed to determine which type of protein powder is best.

Risks and Considerations

It’s always a good idea to do your due diligence before adding a new product to your nutrition routine. The good news is protein powder is generally safe for consumption. “While using a protein powder doesn’t necessarily need to be approved by a healthcare provider, it’s important to choose and discern which product is right for you based on your health and goals,” reports Gaab.

“If someone is healthy (no kidney issues, no inborn errors of metabolism), they should have no concerns,” notes Bustillo. “The only practical concern is the potential of getting tired of drinking it and the flavor being consumed.” Note that there are complications with consuming too much protein, including symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, headache, and diarrhea.

Remember to read labels for ingredients that may interfere with medications or medical conditions, and speak to your healthcare provider if you are unsure.

If you suffer from GI issues, it’s important to select a protein powder without additional sugars or sweeteners”, says Gaab. The sweeteners used are often the cause of gas and bloating you may experience.

“For those working through renal complications, choose a protein powder with lower overall protein content (~12-13 g/serving versus 20-30 g/serving),” notes Gaab.

How to Choose a Protein Powder

Protein powders are considered supplements and are not federally regulated. For this reason, choose a product that has gone through third-party testing to ensure the accuracy of ingredients listed on the label.

“Select a protein powder that is NSF or Informed-Sport Certified,” explains Gaab. “These labels indicate that your product was verified by an independent, third party to ensure the protein powder does not contain any banned substances, or unsafe levels of contaminants and is processed and manufactured in approved conditions.”

“The most important thing I suggest is liking how it tastes, which means finding a sample if you can,” says Bustillo. If you don’t like the protein powder, you won’t use it and it won’t work for you.

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“Outside of taste, we want to look for how many grams we can get in a serving, which would ideally be 20 grams or more,” reports Bustillo. Read food labels to determine how many grams of protein are in one serving and the number of scoops needed to reach that number. “In some cases, particularly with plant protein sources, 2 scoops is the serving size to allow for 20 grams (or more) of protein,” notes Bustillo.

“It is also important to ensure the protein has all of the essential amino acids on the product label,” explains Bustillo. “These amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine; furthermore, checking to ensure these amino acids have not been added will also help ensure quality by preventing what is called amino spiking which is the practice that some manufacturers will use to decrease cost (and quality) of their products: glycine, glutamine, arginine, and taurine.”

Tips for Using Protein Powder Every Day

Get creative with your protein powder and try one of these ideas:

  • Make protein pancakes or protein waffles
  • Boost protein in a smoothie with a scoop of protein powder
  • Try protein oatmeal or overnight oats
  • Make protein muffins
  • Mix protein powder into yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Mix it with coffee
  • Make protein ice cream
  • Boost protein in homemade granola bars
  • Mix a few scoops in your favorite baked goods recipe (brownies, donuts, cookies, etc.)

Bottom Line

Using protein powder every day is a great way to help you reach your daily protein goals, but it isn’t necessary. If you are going to use protein powder every day, do your research and invest in a high-quality product. You may also want to switch products and types of proteins each time you finish a product.

Protein powder is a versatile and convenient protein source. The same benefits you gain from consuming whole protein foods – maintains and builds muscle, promotes weight loss, and increases satiety – hold true for protein powder, too. The type of protein powder you choose is dependent upon your personal preference, medical, and dietary needs. Finding a protein powder you actually like is more important than anything because if you don’t like it, you won’t use it. Talking to a registered dietitian can help you determine if and what protein powder is right for you.

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