Do You Need a Protein Supplement?

Do you need a protein supplement to build muscle?

Will a protein supplement help you lose weight?

Are protein supplements superior to food sources of protein?

These are questions that many people are asking as more and more types of protein supplements hit the market. Walk into just about any gym, health food store or the health food section of your grocery store, and you’ll likely see a wall full of protein supplements.

But do you actually need a protein supplement?

For most people, the answer is “No”.

I’m not knocking protein supplements in general. In fact, I use a protein powder in my smoothie every morning – but it is just a matter of preference, not a necessity.

The following are some facts about protein and protein supplements:

Simply consuming more protein will not result in increased muscle mass – this requires regular strength training exercise. However, it is important to meet your protein needs – and replace the protein you use during exercise – to help increase muscle mass.

A protein supplement can be part of a healthful weight loss diet, but simply taking a protein supplement will not promote weight loss. In fact, it may actually lead to weight gain if you consistently consume excessive calories by adding a protein supplement.

Protein supplements are not superior to food sources of protein – and they can be quite expensive. Rather than spending your money unnecessarily, consume a healthful diet that contains protein-rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and milk and other dairy products.

There is no advantage to consuming more protein than your daily needs. The extra energy (calories) that your body doesn’t use will just be stored as fat.

For more information on daily protein needs, see my previous blog “Protein: How Much Do You Need?

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