The Skinny on Protein Powders

Health Writer

Many people supplement their daily food intake with a scoop of protein powder. You can find protein powder at almost any pharmacy and most grocery stores. It is even on the menus of some of the healthier take-out food establishments. The question is: should you consider taking protein powder to help with weight loss?

**Benefits of a High Protein Die **

Protein is a very important part of our diet because it is a component of every cell in our body. It is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. While some have questioned whether protein powders are beneficial, others believe that an increase in dietary protein can be helpful, especially when it comes to weight loss. Diets are personal, but in general, we know this:

1. Controlled calorie intake associated with a moderately elevated protein intake

may represent an effective and practical weight loss strategy.

2. A high protein/low glycemic diet is associated with weight maintenance (Larsen & Dalskov, 2010).

3. Proteins make us feel fuller for longer as compared to fats and carbohydrates.

4. A higher protein diet decreases blood pressure (American Heart Association, 2000) and increases bone mass.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 10 - 35 percent of our daily calories should come from protein. Adult women should consume about 46 grams/day of protein and adult men about 56 grams/day. Foods such as meat, fish, legumes, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk, and grains are all high in protein. For example, a cup of milk has 8 grams of protein and just a 3 ounce piece of meat has 21 grams of protein. If you are eating a balanced diet, you are most likely getting enough protein without a protein supplement.

However, if your personal need for protein is greater than average due to your level of exercise or you are unable to eat a balanced diet high in protein, a protein powder supplement may be considered. Protein powders vary greatly in their composition and also in the amount of extra protein they provide, so you will need to read the different labels. A typical whey protein powder from the drug store is about 20 grams of protein per scoop.