Protein drinks and supplements in different variants are more and more often appearing in the stores. They can help us with muscle growth and with weight loss, but it's important to use them right. For a healthy organism, a varied and balanced diet is the most important thing, which cannot be replaced by protein supplements.
Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body. They are essential for building bones and body tissues (e.g. muscles), participate in practically all cellular processes (e.g. metabolic and immune reactions), provide a source of energy, assist in cell repair and help with blood cell formation.
Each protein is made up of a chain of amino acids whose type and order in the chain determines the properties of the individual proteins. There are many amino acids, but 9 are essential amino acids that we cannot make ourselves and must therefore take in from the external environment in the diet we eat.
We get our proteins from food. High quality protein foods include eggs, milk, meat, fish, poultry and soy. The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.8/kg/d) and if you are unable to meet this need in your diet, you can take dietary supplements..
There are various types of protein supplements available on the market. You can use protein liquids - either ready-made protein drinks or capsules and powders that you mix into a form that suits you. In addition to making protein shakes, the powder can also be used in yoghurt, porridge or even pancakes.
What is also important to distinguish is what source the protein powder comes from - animal or plant source.
The most commonly used animal-based protein supplements contain whey or casein, which are proteins usually derived from cow's milk, and therefore are not suitable for lactose or cow protein intolerant people. In such cases, egg white protein can serve as a suitable alternative.
Plant-based protein supplements are usually made from soy, pea, hemp or rice. However, unless the supplement is made from soy or some specific mixes of proteins of plant origin, it is usually incomplete, lacking all the essential amino acids.
As already mentioned above, proteins affect our bodies in a variety of ways. So let's take a look at some of them and learn how to use proteins to your advantage.
Of course, drinking protein shakes alone won't help you gain muscle. But combining protein shakes with strength training can promote their growth while increasing physical performance and reducing recovery time. Protein supplements ensure an increase in the concentration of amino acids in the blood and thus provide the necessary material for the actual synthesis of muscle. For muscle mass growth, it is recommended to drink protein shakes after training. [1,2,3]
Protein can contribute to weight loss in several ways - for example, by affecting some of the hormones that control appetite. PPY (peptide YY) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide) are hormones that reduce appetite and delay the emptying of stomach contents. A high-protein diet will increase their levels after each meal, leading to a feeling of fullness, while also reducing levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. [4, 5, 6]
High-quality protein sources also promote oxidation and fat breakdown, which is associated with loss of subcutaneous and abdominal fat. This is particularly important because abdominal fat is metabolically active and promotes inflammatory processes in the body that can lead to insulin resistance and heart disease. [7, 8, 9]
Another way protein can influence weight is by speeding up metabolism. The body burns more calories both through protein metabolism itself and because protein intake stimulates other metabolic processes, such as glucose synthesis (gluconeogenesis) [10, 11, 12, 13].
However, it is important to emphasize that using protein supplements alone will not cause weight loss. The ideal way to lose weight is through a calorie deficit, which can be achieved either by consuming the optimal amount of calories for your body or by increasing physical activity. The most important for a healthy organism and weight loss is a balanced diet composed of good quality foods where all the important food components are represented.
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 Pasiakos SM, McLellan TM, Lieberman HR. The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2015;45(1):111-131. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2
 Tang JE, Phillips SM. Maximizing muscle protein anabolism: the role of protein quality. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009;12(1):66-71. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef75
Phillips SM. The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count. Proc Nutr Soc. 2011;70(1):100-103. doi:10.1017/S002966511000399X
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 Astrup A, Raben A, Geiker N. The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015;39(5):721-726. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.216
 Loenneke JP, Wilson JM, Manninen AH, Wray ME, Barnes JT, Pujol TJ. Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012;9(1):5. Published 2012 Jan 27. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-5
 Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014;11(1):53. Published 2014 Nov 19. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
 Hermsdorff HH, Volp AC, Bressan J. O perfil de macronutrientes influencia a termogênese induzida pela dieta e a ingestão calórica [Macronutrient profile affects diet-induced thermogenesis and energy intake]. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2007;57(1):33-42.
 Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tomé D, Soenen S, Weste rterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:21-41. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-141056
 Veldhorst MA, Westerterp KR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Gluconeogenesis and protein-induced satiety. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(4):595-600. doi:10.1017/S0007114511003254