Kate Sandat talks to Country Child about the benefits of using protein powder in our meals and offers one lucky reader a chance to win a signed copy of her book, Cook Clean with Kate, including a pouch of her recommended brand of whey protein powder - Whole Life!
So what is protein exactly?
Like carbs and fat, protein is a macronutrient that our body needs to survive and is made up of building blocks called ‘amino acids.’ Our bodies don’t produce protein naturally so we have to consume it in order to fuel our bodies correctly.
Protein is commonly known to be responsible for healthy hair, skin (collagen) and nails as well as building muscle, but it also plays a vital role in hormone balance, cartilage and blood formation. Children in particular need to get enough protein for the development of their muscles, tissues, and enzymes as it helps to support these systems. Protein powder is a great way to help families reach their daily targets for protein intake but as with any growing market, when it comes to choosing the perfect protein powder, the choice can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing what to buy, when to consume it and getting to grips with the hype can be confusing to say the least. Here you'll find more about Whey, Hemp, Brown Rice and Pea Protein powders.
Protein powder should only ever be seen as a supplement to your family’s diet, rather than as a meal replacement. If you’re worried that your children are missing out on this vital food group, protein powder is a great way to sneakily add it in. If you have children that aren’t particularly keen on meat or fish and you are worried about their protein intake, then supplementing protein via smoothies, porridge, waffles or cakes etc can be a great way to ensure that their correct dietary requirements are being met. Kate says "As a mum, protein powder gives me peace of mind that my kids are getting sufficient protein intake. It’s also reassuring to know that they are leaving the house in the morning with a full tummy, feeling satisfied and ready to fire on all cylinders for the busy school day ahead."
What’s more, as us parents always like to sneak extra nutritious goodness in where we can, smoothies are a great way to add a variety of seeds, fruit and vegetables into the mix. Foods such as avocado, spinach, seeds, raw cocoa powder, dates, grated courgette (yes, you did read that correctly!), chia seeds, berries and frozen banana all work wonders to give your protein shake extra nutritional punch.
So what are your choices?
Whey protein powder
Being a mum, I prefer my children to have this type of protein supplement due to the fact it contains the nine essential amino acids, (importantly glutamine), and it is easily digested. If however your child is lactose intolerant then whey is not suitable.
Whey is a by-product of the cheese making process – whey being the liquid remaining after the milk has been curdled and strained. The whey is then processed to yield whey protein which can be in concentrate or isolate form. Depending on the brand and the cost of the protein powder you buy, the powder will consist of differing amounts of whey concentrate and whey isolate. Isolate has a higher protein content than whey concentrate and is lower in carbs, fat and lactose which means that if you or your child are dairy intolerant, you may not have a reaction to isolate, but it does come at a slightly higher price.
Just to give you an idea of its make up, a typical whey powder consists of around 80% protein, whereas a steak, for example, is between 30 and 40%.
Hemp protein contains approximately 50% protein concentrate and all 20 amino acids including the 9 essential and 2 semi-essential amino acids. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as being high in insoluble fibre and is easily digested which makes it a good option for those with sensitive stomachs.
Brown rice protein
Brown rice protein is a good vegan substitute and is rich in insoluble fibre and magnesium. It’s also a great choice for those avoiding soy (it’s soy-free) which some manufacturers sneak in. It contains all of the essential amino acids but some people are not keen on the texture which I can only describe as ‘grainy’.
Personally, I can’t stand the taste (!) but if you do, pea protein is high in arginine, lysine and phenylalanine, contains a complete amino acid profile and is easy to digest. It is made from either yellow peas or split peas. It contains low levels of cysteine and methionine (which brown rice protein is high in) so if this is one of your only protein options, try to mix it up with brown rice protein.
If your child follows a vegan diet then hemp, brown rice and pea protein are the vegan friendly options.