Do you need protein supplements? The answer might surprise you. If you’re like most Americans – meaning you eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or drink milk – you don’t. Advertisers spend a lot of money trying to make you believe that if you eat more protein, you’ll have more muscle and less fat. But, clinical studies just don’t show that to be true.
If you've decided to increase your exercise from your normal routine to a much more intense workout, your body might benefit from extra protein. If you're injured, extra protein might help you heal faster. Major changes to your diet might mean you should consider a protein supplement, too. For example, if you've decided to become a vegan and give up eating all sources of animal protein, a protein supplement may be beneficial for you. Do you need protein supplements otherwise? Probably not.
Get the Protein You Need
Did you know only 10 to 15 percent of your daily calorie intake needs to come from protein? You may not know it, but your body’s primary source for fuel isn't protein – its carbohydrates.
Clinical studies show that your best bet for protein comes from whole food, not from bars, powders or pills. An ounce of meat has about seven grams of protein. Think about what you eat every day. You will probably see that you’re getting plenty of protein.
If you don't know how much protein is in your food, you can easily find out. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's special website (http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list) that breaks down the nutritional values in many foods – including how much protein is in a serving. Keep track of your diet. Then, check the website to see how many grams of protein you're getting. You may realize you don't need protein supplements at all.