Protein Powder

Timing is everything when it comes to refueling with protein after a workout.

Because exercise causes the breakdown of muscle proteins, taking in the branch-chain amino acids that protein provides between workouts not only helps build new muscle but also speeds muscle repair, so recovery time is faster.

While many solid foods are excellent sources of protein, they are often slow to digest, making protein powder an attractive option. 

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Protein Powder Benefits: Best Whey Protein & Vegan Protein Powder

Whey protein powder is especially popular, and has been shown in studies to not only help build muscle mass but also reduce hunger by regulating the hunger- satiety signaling hormones ghrelin and leptin; protect the immune system by preventing the loss of the antioxidant glutathione, which often drops after strenuous cardio; and potentially alleviate symptoms of stress, according to a study from the Netherlands.

Plant-based protein powders are also popular, especially for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Vegan protein powder offers myriad health benefits beyond muscle building, and have been linked to better cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol levels, improved joint health, lower inflammation levels and a stronger immune system thanks to the digestive benefits associated with plant fiber.

When considering plant-based protein powders, pea protein is an especially protein-packed choice, and can be used alone or mixed with other plant proteins (quinoa and other ancient grains offer protein, fiber and other nutrients) to get a mix of essential amino acids.

Protein powders are smart refueling options because they also offer carbs, which are an important component to workouts, since carbs fuel muscles by being converted to glucose, which is stored as glycogen in muscle tissue. Taking in carbohydrates after a workout ensures that there will be enough glycogen on hand to power through even a tough cardio session.

And whether whey or plant-based, protein powders are also an excellent way to take in enough protein when restricting calories to lose weight, because adequate amino acid intake helps prevent potential muscle loss. 

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