By Kristin Kirkpatrick
PROTEIN POWDERS HAVE found their
way into the American diet, but often they
leave consumers with more questions than
answers: Which protein is best for my needs?
How many grams of protein do I really need
every day? Will protein help me lose weight?
Will protein help me build muscles beyond
my wildest dreams?
Although protein needs vary by age, gender, activity level and overall health, you can
reap big benefits by adding just a bit more to
your diet. If you’re trying to lose weight, adding
protein may help. A 2015 study from Tufts
University, published in The American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition, found that meals featuring
low-glycemic foods (such as those high in protein) were associated with greater weight loss
than diets consisting of higher-glycemic foods
(such as refined or sugary carbohydrates).
Another study, published in the International
Journal of Obesity, found that adding 35 grams
of protein daily prevented weight gain, reduced
hunger and stabilized glucose levels. And a
2015 study out of the University of Missouri
found that adding protein to the diet helped to
Protein helps diabetics as well. A 2014
study in Diabetologia: Journal of the European
Association for the Study of Diabetes found
that consuming whey protein before a high-glycemic meal was associated with a reduction in blood sugar spikes and better insulin
control. And, a 2010 ScienceDaily study found
that consuming a higher intake of protein
was associated with a reduction of hip fractures in the elderly.
It’s always good to obtain your protein
from the most natural sources available (such
as chicken, fish, nuts and legumes), but if
you’re looking for a more convenient protein
boost, a powder may be a good option. When
searching for a protein powder, go for whole-food options with the shortest ingredient lists
and avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce;
artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors; or
long lists of herbs and supplements.
There are as many different protein powders as there are different people with different needs. The following guide may help
determine the right one for you.
Go with milk and coconut. When you’re
done with your workout, you’ll need a drink
that has the ability to replenish drained energy
stores and replace lost electrolytes. You can get
both with a drink consisting of high-quality
milk protein powder and electrolyte-rich
coconut water. A 2012 ScienceDaily report
showed that coconut water is an excellent
after-workout drink for individuals who
have engaged in light exercise, and studies
show that dairy protein assists with muscle
building after exercise.
Say yes to quick and easy. The last thing
you need is a sugary drink that will ultimately
lead to a major afternoon crash. Instead, look
for a “meal on the run” that provides just
enough protein to get you through your day,
but not so much that you’re getting more than
You’ll also need something quick and
portable. The best option is an already-made
shake that’s delicious (afternoon chocolate
delight, anyone?), low calorie, loaded with
plant-powered protein and devoid of artificial sweeteners.
Find your fuel with whey. If you’re searching for fuel during a long run or for a nutrient-dense drink afterwards, a whey protein shake
may be your best bet. That’s because whey is
an easily digestible source of branched-chain
amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine.
These building-block superstars are
essential (meaning your body doesn’t make
them, so you need to get them from your
diet), and several studies show they can help
you achieve greater muscle protein synthesis.
As people age, they lose muscle and
their protein needs increase. Inadequate
protein consumption can lead to decreased
immunity and longer healing. Studies published by the U.S. National Library of
Medicine and the National Institutes of
Health show that taking in more protein after
65 can optimize health and lead to a longer life.
Adding a protein drink to your day is a quick
and easy way to meet your needs. Check with
your doctor on the right amount.
Start your day with plants. Research presented in 2013 at the Obesity Society’s annual
scientific meeting shows that adding protein
to the diet can help with curbing hunger and
losing weight. Plant-based proteins from
foods like peas, brown rice and hemp may be
a dieter’s dream, thanks to their ability to keep
hunger at bay. C
Costco member Kristin Kirkpatrick is the manager of wellness nutrition services at the
Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry a variety of
protein powders as well as premade protein beverages. Members can also find
many natural sources of protein at their
p rot ein
Picking the proper
protein for the
84 ;e Costco Connection JANUARY 2016
Creative recipes for protein powders can
give you the nutrition you need in surprisingly tasty ways, such as the banana
bread protein smoothie (left) or pancakes
and parfaits (right).