Do you need to bulk up on protein powder?

Five different scoops of different colored protein powders.
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Protein powders can be spotted on the shelves of supplement stores, pharmacies, fitness centers and big box stores. Perhaps you’ve wondered if you should be bulking up on protein powder, too.

Protein is a macronutrient important for building muscle mass, repairing tissue and powering the immune system. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein for healthy adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, a person weighing 160 pounds (160/2.2= 72 kilograms) would need about 58 grams of protein each day. For most healthy adults, this can easily be achieved by consuming whole foods, which naturally contain other important nutrients that may be missing in a powder. However, older adults and those recovering from surgery or wounds may have higher protein needs, in which case protein powder offers a convenient way to meet these needs. 

Protein powders can come from a variety of different sources, such as peas, hemp, egg whites, or milk (whey or casein protein). They may also include other ingredients, like added sugars, thickeners and vitamins and minerals. Protein powders are considered a dietary supplement and are not regulated in the same manner as food or drugs. This means there is no requirement for the powder to be tested to ensure that it contains what the manufacturer claims. If buying a powder look for a seal that signifies it has been tested by a third-party. Other things to look for if purchasing protein powders, include the ingredient label. Look for unflavored powders without added sugars. Sweeten them with fruit in smoothies or keep it savory and add it to mashed potatoes or pasta sauce. In addition, those who have trouble digesting dairy or those who are vegan, will want to look for plant-based protein powders. All in all, you likely don’t need to spend your money on protein powders, but if you wish to use them, do so in addition to eating whole foods.


Strawberry Protein Shake

1 cup 1% milk

1 (6-oz.) container of low-fat strawberry yogurt

3 Tablespoons whey protein powder

½ cup frozen strawberries

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend. Pour in glass and enjoy.

Yield: 1 serving


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 400 calories, 26 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 65 grams carbohydrate, 390 milligrams sodium


Recipe Source: Strong Women Finish the Race, North Dakota State University, Sherri Stastny, Ph.D., R.D

Source: The Scoop on Protein Powder, Harvard Medical School, Emily Gelsomin, MLA, R.D.