Guest Post by Neat Nutrition: All you need to know about protein

We recently met with the wonderful team behind Neat Nutrition - a protein company who focus on making natural, clean protein powders and supplements - free from any of the unnecessary sugars, fillers and excess ingredients. We love their ethos, their packaging is on point, and we recognise everything in the ingredients list, but we were still very much in need of educating on the benefits of protein powder. Our first question - what exactly is it and why should we be using it? They informed, we listened and it was sort of a lightbulb moment, so we asked them to share with you all too - over to you, Neat. 

"What is protein? This seems like a simple question. We’ve all seen people leaving the gym with a shaker, or the displays of whey powder in supplement shops, but the protein market has historically been tough to navigate. Buzzwords and hard to read ingredient lists can confuse even the most knowledgeable consumer. At Neat Nutrition, we want to take it back to basics and help you understand the world of protein and supplements while providing clean products from natural ingredients so you know exactly what you’re getting. 

THE SCIENCE

Let’s start with the chemistry (it’s not scary, promise!) – protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies and help to repair cells. When you exercise you create tears in your muscles, which need to repair themselves (this is how muscle is built, on a tear and repair system). Amino acids help to rebuild these tears.

You can get most of your protein from whole food sources and you should always try to maintain a balanced diet. Sometimes though, life can get busy and you might look to a supplement to help give your body what it needs to stay fit and healthy.  Whey protein in powdered form, when mixed with water to form a shake, can reach your muscles in about 30 minutes; quicker than a whole food source and ideal for post workout. 

THE BENEFITS

It’s not just your muscles that benefit from protein though. Any tissue in the body uses protein to build and repair. So hair, skin, nails – these are all built from protein. Even your body’s immune system is built on protein – it really is amazing! Protein has also been shown to keep you feeling fuller for longer, keeping hunger pangs away better than carbs or fats. 

There are twenty amino acids that you need to function. Eleven of these are made by your body while nine come from food sources and as such are known as ‘essential’ amino acids, e.g. its essential for your diet to contain them. If you follow a vegan diet, it can sometimes be difficult to get enough lysine (helps building muscle, injury recovery, production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies) in your diet. You would need to be eating a lot of peas, beans, lentils and quinoa. This is where some people consider a supplement.

Each protein source has its benefits. Whey with its fast acting properties, casein with its slow release and vegan is perfect for people who suffer from allergies or intolerance to lactose. Each will provide you with the essential amino acids your body needs, but with vegan proteins be sure to check the packaging to confirm this. 

TYPES OF PROTEIN

A lot of vegan proteins will consist of one core protein source: hemp, pea, soy and brown rice are common ones. At Neat Nutrition, we mix pea and hemp together for our vegan protein blend. Hemp is often considered a complete protein as it has a comprehensive blend of the essential amino acids your body needs, however it is low in lysine. Meanwhile, pea protein is closest to a whole food source and is high in lysine, so blending the two makes a good supplement covering every amino acid you need in good quantities. 

For non-vegans, whey protein is packed with all the essential amino acids and is the fastest acting protein supplement you can take (remember that 30 minute journey to the muscles). Casein or slow release protein is also sourced from milk, but has the opposite effect, mainly feeding muscles over time rather than rapidly. These two proteins are made when separating milk into curds and whey. Curds go to make casein protein (and cheese) while whey is spray dried to create whey protein powder. 

So that’s the basics! A high protein diet can help you satiate hunger, repair muscles and keep your body healthy. If you’re looking for a supplement, make sure to do some homework. Look at ingredients and find something you’re comfortable adding to your diet. It’s pretty versatile too: add just water or create shakes, protein bars or get inventive and add it to your cooking. Head over to www.neat-nutrition.com for more frequently asked questions and recipes for how to use protein powder."

www.neat-nutrition.com, @neatnutrition