What to look for in a protein supplement

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Health and Medical

It’s pretty much common knowledge that when you want to burn fat, you need to eat lots of protein. This holds true whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. Ideally, you want to do both, because it improves your ‘figure’, defining your shape and contours in a sexier way. However, if you’ve tried consuming proteins, you know it can be arduous. They don’t fill you up in the way that carbs do, so you can feel like you’re constantly eating. Many proteins have low satiety levels, and you can only eat so much meat before you need a break.

Protein supplements give you a convenient way out. Mix a scoop or two in your beverage of preference and suddenly the equivalent of several hundred grams of protein hits your system. You do need to pick your brands carefully. Some supplements are nothing more than coloured powder while others are so high in calories that they sabotage your fat-burning efforts. After all, the body prefers easy-to-use glucose over fat, because you have work for the former. As an example, check out clips by Craig Ramsay.

On his show Eat it, Burn it, he explains how many calories our favourite snacks contain, and what we’d have to do to burn them off. For example, a small iced cupcake has 500 calories, which means jogging for an hour, cycling for 75 minutes, or walking briskly for two hours. A single chicken wing runs up 100 calories, equivalent to a 15-minute jog, 20 minutes on a bike, or power-walking for half an hour. 3 slices of bacon clock 150 calories, the same as 350ml of (American) beer. Pizza is over 400 calories a slice, and the same applies to medium fries (100g) and an average burger. Doughnuts are 300 calories each.

 

Quick absorption

Given that just one serving of these temptations can derail your diet, its best to stick to protein shakes. But remember, it’s in liquid form, so it doesn’t feel as satisfying. That’s why you want a smoothie or shake that will absorb instantly. Studies suggest our brains take 15 minutes to decide we’re full, so if we eat slowly, we can trick ourselves into consuming less food. Similarly, if we take a protein shake and it hits our blood stream immediately, then we can hold off the bitings a while longer – psychologically at least.

Dymatize ISO 100 does this beautifully. Its claim to fame is ultra-fast absorption, though it can also protect you from the effects of over-exercising. Take a few shots when you’re done at the gym. This will stop catabolism – a fancy name for destructive metabolism. If you don’t control it, you can end up burning muscle in addition to fat aka muscle wasting. The bulk of protein in this supplement comes from hydrolysed whey, which gets into your system faster than standard whey. It has no lactose or gluten, but it does have BCAAs (5.5g).

 

Portability

Most of your exercise comes from your sport of choice or your time at the gym. But true enthusiasts convert every part of their day into an opportunity for a work-out. They wear fitness watches all the time, even in the shower. They take the stairs, and have a spring in their step when they’re strolling for their morning coffee. This kind of person wants the kind of protein they can consume on the go. After all, they love ‘rushed food’ as much as the next person, and an orange isn’t quite as satisfying as a doughnut. Besides, it takes longer to eat.

To help them overcome the junk food temptation, they need a healthy snack they can easily carry around. Nutribullets and other blender cups make it easy to fill up on take-away smoothies, but sometimes you want something to sink your teeth into. Something that crinkles when you unwrap it and crunches when you nibble it. Enter Quest bites.

This supplement range includes Quest Bars, cookies, and crisps (potato chips). They’re high in protein, low in fat, have hardly any sugars, and they’re all armed with filling fibre for enhanced satiety and better digestion. They come in the same sizes, dimensions, and packaging styles as junk food, so they can tickle the part of your brain that wants to cheat. They fit right in your pocket, handbag, or lunch box. You won’t have to explain yourself, because they look like regular munchies. And after they ask – and receive – a bite, you’ll never have to share your food again!

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