With more and more men and women taking an interest in improving their health and fitness, there is an increased interest in using protein powders and shakes to supplement muscle growth. But does your body really benefit from these protein supplements? In truth, protein is one of the most misunderstood nutrients, and here’s why.
The Truth about Protein
It is true that we all need adequate amounts of protein in order to properly function and stay healthy. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that have been bonded together in specific sequences in order to perform various functions throughout your body. The proteins in your skin, for example, are made up of a different sequence of amino acids than the proteins in your muscles.
If you are in generally good health and have access to a healthy diet, however, it is likely that you’re getting enough protein from your daily diet. The key is to make sure that you’re getting complete proteins or a variety of different types of protein sources in order to get enough of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.
Amino acids play vital roles throughout your body in addition to producing the proteins collagen and elastin that give your skin its strong, youthful structure. Certain amino acids, including arginine, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, aid in muscle growth and repair, which is why many bodybuilders turn to protein powders and supplements to help boost muscle growth and speed fat metabolism .
Although there are obvious benefits to getting enough protein, it is possible to get too much protein (more than 35% of your daily calories). Studies have shown that consuming significantly more protein than your body can use may lead to liver damage, metabolic disorders, and dangerously high insulin levels . Thus, adding too much protein powder to your diet, or even replacing foods with protein supplements has the potential to be detrimental to your health.
What to Do If You’re Not Getting Enough Protein in Your Diet
There may be some instances, especially in those over age 65, when people may not be getting enough protein from their diet to stay healthy. When this is the case, the best thing to do is try to eat a variety of foods that will give you all nine of the essential amino acids for optimal health and skin function.
If you find that you need to use a protein supplement or powder in order to obtain the recommended 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, it’s best to consume smaller amounts of protein powder throughout the day, rather than eat it all at once after a workout or to completely replace a meal .
What If Your Skin Needs More Amino Acids?
If your skin is deficient in amino acids, you may notice that it is dull and dry, no matter which products you use. To increase the amino acid content of your skin and trigger the production of collagen and elastin, you will benefit much more by using a topical amino acid skin care product than by consuming protein shakes. The difference is that topically applied amino acids can be readily absorbed directly into the skin, right where you need them.
Your body can easily and safely clear any excess amino acids from its systems within about 24 hours. However, the digestion of excess dietary protein can take a toll on the liver as it attempts to remove the excessive nitrogen that your body can’t handle.
While there is certainly a time and a place for protein powders and supplements, there is a right and a wrong way to add more protein to your diet. First, be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any major adjustments to your diet, as consuming too much protein can be detrimental to your health.
If you’re looking to improve the health and appearance of your skin, look for the right topical formulations of all or nearly all of the 20 amino acids involved in protein synthesis. These ingredients can smooth away lines and wrinkles, improve your skin’s natural barrier, provide gentle hydration, and even aid in wound healing.