If you’re like the majority of Americans, you are probably meeting your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein, which is 46 grams for women and 56 grams of protein daily for men.
That being said, protein supplements are widely available and can significantly boost your protein intake. However, such supplements are often expensive and may leave you wondering if they are really worth the extra money. Do you really need the extra boost in protein?
Benefits of Protein Supplements
Getting extra protein in your diet is beneficial if you’re an athlete, exercise regularly, want to maintain muscle mass, or simply want to shed those last few pounds. Additionally, adding protein supplements to your meal plan is a quick and easy way to increase the protein in your diet when you’re on the go — or simply don’t feel like cooking. Some protein bars contain 20 grams of protein, and protein powders may provide 20 to 40 grams of protein in just one scoop. It should be noted, however, that oftentimes these protein supplements also act as a meal replacement as well.
Are Supplements Necessary?
While definitely convenient, you certainly don’t have to use protein supplements to meet your daily protein needs — even if you are an athlete. A 3-ounce portion of grilled chicken contains almost 26 grams of protein, and 3 ounces of cooked salmon provide about 22 grams of protein. Cottage cheese contains 28 grams of protein per cup, and a cup of soy milk provides about 8 grams of protein. Most Americans have no trouble getting plenty of protein in their diet without using supplements.
Drawbacks of Protein Supplements
In addition to being expensive, protein supplements are not tightly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a 2013 position statement published in the Journal of Athletic Training. This position statement goes on to say that because dietary supplements aren’t well regulated they may contain banned substances, and suggests eating whole foods over protein supplements to meet protein needs. After all, eating whole foods should always be preferable to processed foods. Furthermore, some protein supplements contain artificial sweeteners — which have been linked with increased sugar cravings and weight gain, according to a review published in 2010 in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.
It should also be noted that there are a wide variety of protein supplements out on the market today.
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What are your thoughts on protein supplements?