According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, experts suggest that athletes should consume between 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1). We all probably agree that protein is crucial for supporting a healthy body and for athletic performance but not all protein is created equal. Here are 3 protein supplements that I think are crucial for building a strong, healthy body, improving athletic performance, and ensuring proper recovery after workouts and/or injury*.
Beef-based protein powder (ideally grass-fed)
When it comes to protein powder, you can’t get any better in terms of quality and nutritional profile than a grass-fed beef-based protein powder. Protein powder that is made from bone broth serves as an excellent option for post-workout recovery or for those trying to increase their daily protein consumption. Alternatively, you could whip up your own batch of bone broth and consume that on the daily but it’s a time consuming process and not all that convenient for on-the-go athletes. Bone broth protein powder used to be really hard to find but with the functional food movement and paleo diet gaining popularity for it’s anti-inflammation benefits, you can find them everywhere. Here are some of my faves:
- Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein – the Cafe Mocha flavor is amazing in my morning coffee.
- CogniTune Bone Broth Protein with Turmeric – turmeric is a great addition for those experiencing inflammation due to illness or injury
- Bone Broth Powder from Left Coast Performance – their straight-up vanilla flavor is tasty enough to drink with water
- Bone Broth Protein from Intentionally Naked – With no flavor and zero net carbs, this is an excellent choice for all you low-carb and keto people out there
All amino acids are important for muscle repair and growth which is why Branch Chain Amino Acid (BCAA’s) supplements are so popular these days. When it comes to recovery, though, glutamine is the king. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid and not only promotes the making of muscle but also helps to prevent the breakdown of those precious muscles we all work so hard to maintain(2).
Vigorous exercise uses up the supply of glutamine in the blood and muscles so it’s important that we replenish that supply from our diet. Foods that tend to be high in glutamine include animal protein, green vegetables and fermented foods. Consumption of these foods on a daily basis will only provide a small fraction (around 8%) of the requirement of this important amino acid which is why supplementing with a high quality product is recommended.
There is ample scientific evidence that would support the claim that glutamine is the holy grail for recovery. Experts in human kinetics have found that an oral dose of L-glutamine after exercise results in faster recovery and decreased muscle soreness. (3) Another group of scientists found evidence that glutamine promotes glycogen synthesis immediately after exercise and could play a role in the gut’s ability absorb fluids more rapidly which can be crucial for rehydrating post-exercise..(4)
BONUS: Glutamine is also a protective constituent of the digestive tract and is often used as a means of healing the gut. And since the function of the immune system relies heavily on the health of the gut, glutamine consumption supports a healthy immune system. (5)
Anyone who cares about their joint health, should be consuming some form of collagen every single day. Collagen is the protein primarily responsible for building the structure of the musculoskeletal system of the human body which includes the muscles and connective tissues surrounding joints. Collagen also serves as a structural building block of our skin, hair and nails.
The human body has the ability make collagen to support itself but the ability to do this decreases as we age. Therefore, we must obtain it from our diet and can do this by consuming connective tissues, bones and skin of the animals and fish. If eating fish skin or drinking broth made of chicken feet doesn’t sound appealing to you, then a collagen peptides supplement may be the way to go. Collagen peptides are unflavored and dissolve in any liquid so they can be added to coffee, smoothies, juice or even a glass of water. I’ve been pretty loyal to the brand Vital Proteins for the past 3-ish years and since I have noticed a significant difference in the health of my own joints, skin, nails and hair, I’m not going to change what is working for me. You can purchase your Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides here or choose from one of these other great options:
- Further Food Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides
- MAV Nutrition Pasture-Raised Collagen Peptides
- Nutraholics Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised Collagen Peptides
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*These recommendations are from a certified nutrition coach and should not replace the advice from a medical professional. As always, make sure to seek your doctor’s advice before consuming a new supplement.