Many students, especially those who are active, wonder if they should be taking a protein supplement, either because they want to build extra muscle or they just aren’t sure they get enough protein from regular food. So, should you join the masses (pun intended) and go buy a big jar of protein powder? Here are a few important points to consider:
Do they work? They can definitely be a decent source of protein. But, some powders can be used by your body more easily than others. For example, whey protein is generally easier for your body to use when compared to something like a soy or rice-based powder.
Are they safe? While most protein powders are probably safe, they are dietary supplements and aren’t regulated by the FDA, so there are no guarantees. However, many big-name brands are NSF certified, which means they’ve been checked by an independent source to make sure labeling is accurate and that the powder isn’t contaminated.
Is it worth it? Prices for protein powders are usually $1-$3 per serving, which could add up to $30-$90 per month. That can be hard on a college student’s wallet!
Do I really need it? Most people that eat a normally will meet their protein needs without having to worry. For athletes and people on special diets, like vegetarians and vegans, a little more thought and planning might be necessary. But, it is definitely possible to get plenty of protein through everyday, “real” foods.
Can I get enough protein from food? Yes! Focus on including a serving or two of protein in each meal and/or snack. Try these ways to enjoy protein from real, quick and easy foods:
– Add some grilled chicken or lean beef to a salad
– Scramble an egg for breakfast
– Freeze some Greek yogurt for a quick, protein-packed dessert
– Drink a glass of milk at lunch or dinner
– Replace some of the rice in your burrito with black beans
– Spread 1-2 Tbsp of peanut butter on a piece of fruit
Rodriguez, N., DiMarco, N., Langley, S. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Am Diet Assoc, 2009:109:509-527.doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.01.005