It’s no secret that protein needs to be a major component of any athlete’s diet. Female and male alike, protein needs increase with physical exercise no matter what your goals are. And if you want to build muscle for shape, size, or strength, it’s not uncommon to find most bodybuilders taking in one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight or more if they are competitive (as an example).
So all of this begs the question to be asked, where should you get your protein from?
Common choices are egg whites, protein powder, chicken, turkey, steak, fish, and in some cases, cottage cheese.
Is one better than the other? While all protein is going to be beneficial, some sources do pose additional benefits beyond others.
And if you think that chicken is the gold standard for protein, you might want to think again. As it turns out, protein powder and or protein RTD (ready to drink) formulas both have some pretty amazing factors working in their favor.
Let’s look at the following reasons why your protein powder might just be even better to consume than chicken breast.
BETTER NUTRITIONAL VALUE
Better Protein Quality
Proteins are made up of amino acid building blocks, some of which are essential (meaning our bodies can’t make them). The best sources of proteins that have the highest level of bioavailability (meaning how efficiently your body can absorb and use them) have the highest content and best balance of essential amino acids. Protein powders in general add essential amino acids that far outweigh the amino acid balance in chicken.
Better Overall Nutrient Quality
You always need to read the label, but most protein powders and RTDs have added vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients to increase nutrient quality, leaving chicken breast in the dust (comparatively speaking). For example, Lean Body RTDs have 22 vitamins and minerals added to their formula.
Protein powders and RTDs are very easy to digest and absorb as compared to chicken breast. There is no need for chewing, massive stomach acid secretion, or high levels of digestive enzymes. This is critical, as most of us either because of stress or being in a hurry, do not digest our food as well as we should. In fact, protein powders have been used, and studied, as nutritional support in both cancer and AIDS patients (both of whom as a group have compromised digestive tract issues and poor digestion).
The Presence Of Immunoglobins
Another reason you might opt for protein powder over chicken breast is because protein powder comes complete with immunoglobulins. These are going to help to give your immune system nutritional support in, preventing infection, illness, and also just helping you recover faster.
Especially when you’re in a situation of dieting, your immune system can take a hit so doing all you can to support your immune system will be important.
It should be noted that this feature is unique to whey protein, so you want to be sure to choose a whey protein isolate or concentrate in order to derive this benefit.
The next reason you might choose to opt for protein powder over chicken breast is simply because of versatility. With chicken breasts, while you can cook them in many different ways, they are always chicken breasts.
With protein powder, the options are virtually endless. You can make protein shakes, smoothies, bars, cookies, cakes, pancakes, and so on. One search for protein powder recipes gives you an endless array of options at your fingertips. You can also make a protein powder drink in about 60 seconds. Or, even better yet, just unscrew the cap off a powerful “ready to drink” (RTD) formula like Lean Body RTDs). It doesn’t get much quicker or easier than that to get a solid 40 grams of protein with 22 added vitamins and minerals with zero sugar.
For this reason, you might find you become less bored when choosing protein powder or protein RTDs over chicken breasts, which means you’ll be more likely to stick with your diet and that is the top factor determining your success or not.
Another unique benefit that protein powder has going for it is that it’s going to give you the ability to customize the protein powder to meet your needs. If you want a slower digesting protein, opt for a casein protein powder. If you want something that gets to the muscles in a hurry, choose a whey isolate.
You can pick and choose how you want your body to respond to the protein-based on the type that you get. With chicken, it’s just chicken – and that’s that.
Finally, if you actually break it down on a cost analysis, you’ll come to see that in most cases, protein powder is actually cheaper as well. It can be misleading because you’re going out and likely buying a protein tub for $50-100 a pop and this seems pricey when you’re spending just $10 on chicken at the grocery store. But if you break it down on a per cost serving, protein powder usually works out to be around $0.70-1.20 per serving. Chicken breast on the other hand can often be sitting at $1.5-2.00 per serving when total protein grams are kept constant. In the case of a Lean Body RTD, depending where you shop (grocery store or convenient store) let’s say you buy a drink for $3.25 which has 40 grams of protein. That comes down to about 8 cents per gram! It doesn’t get much better than that.
So protein powder or RTDs can actually be more cost-effective. If you’re eating 250 grams of protein per day and plan to use primarily chicken breast as your main source, there’s no question that this is going to get quite expensive.
As you can see, there are many fantastic benefits that protein powder has to offer so don’t think of it as under chicken in terms of quality and frequency of use. This doesn’t mean you should strictly consume protein powder in your diet however – there are many micronutrients in chicken and other whole food sources of protein you need as well. Certainly don’t feel guilty about having 2-3 servings of protein powder per day however with a balanced meal plan.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.