What is Protein and Why do I Need it?

What is Protein and Why do I Need it?

Neat Nutrition was founded by former GB swimmers Charlie Turner and Lee Forster who, after years of being on the athlete side of sports nutrition, wanted to create a product they could believe in. Built out of a desire for high quality ingredients, simple design and most importantly great tasting natural products that are cleanly produced, the Neat Nutrition team were the first people we called when we wanted to find out more about protein.

What is Protein?

Your body runs on macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat. Very simply, protein is an organic compound made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies. 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!

Why Use a Protein Supplement?

A balanced diet is important, however sometimes life can get busy and you might look to a supplement to help give your body what it needs to stay fit and healthy. There are twenty amino acids that your body needs 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 certain diet, or omit select food groups e.g. a vegan diet, a supplement can help with the nutrients you may be missing.

In regards to exercise: when you workout, 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. Whey protein in powdered form, when mixed with water to form a shake, can reach your muscles in about 30 minutes to start this repair; quicker than a whole food source and ideal for post workout.

Protein has been shown to keep you feeling fuller for longer too, so switching out your afternoon snack with a protein shake can help keep hunger pangs away better than carbs or fats.

Types of Protein

Protein is a catch-all term, but it comes in many forms. Whey, whey isolate, casein, lean, vegan and its many iterations (hemp, pea, brown rice, soy), egg-white and more. Here’s a little break down of the options:

Whey Protein: Whey protein is packed with all the essential amino acids and is the fastest acting protein supplement you can take. Ours is sourced from the milk of grass fed cows, where the curds and whey are separated and the whey is spray dried to form a powder.

Vegan 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 (an amino acid you will struggle to get in your diet if you’re vegan). Lysine helps with building muscle, injury recovery, production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Meanwhile, pea protein is closest to a whole food source and is high in lysine, so blending the two makes a good supplement that covers every amino acid you need in good quantities. Vegan proteins are also great for those who suffer from food intolerances as they’re hypoallergenic and are easier to digest. Lactose intolerance or an avoidance of dairy is becoming more and more common so the market for vegan proteins is growing.

Lean Protein: Starts life as whey protein and then things change slightly. Companies may sell this as a skinny blend or other such names. At Neat Nutrition, we call it Lean Protein. Organic Matcha, L-Carnitine and CLA are added to the whey powder to give the protein a natural, fat-busting boost. Matcha contains catechins, a group of antioxidants which are also known as fat burners. Matcha can also increase thermogenesis – our body’s rate of burning calories. L-Carnitine is an amino acid that’s produced by the body, it helps your body produce energy and helps break down fatty acids. CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid – we know that sounds counter-productive but studies suggest that it improves lean mass to body fat ratio by helping the body convert food more efficiently into energy.

Casein/Slow Release Protein:  Also sourced from milk, casein comes from the curds that are separated. It has the opposite effect of whey protein, mainly feeding muscles over time rather than rapidly. Casein, when ingested, turns into a gel-like substance in your stomach, which is why it’s broken down and digested slowly, feeding your muscles over time. It’s perfect before bed to help your muscles recover while you’re sleeping. It’s also good if you know you’re going to have a long break between meals and want something to keep you feeling fuller. Long distance runners or walkers may find Slow Release a good form of protein for recovering from long treks.

All of Neat Nutrition’s protein powders contain no artificial sweeteners, flavourings or fillers, meaning there is less for the body to breakdown once you’ve had your shake. The body will therefore, very quickly and easily, deliver essential amino acids to your muscles preventing fatigue and speeding up recovery and growth.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

These little balls of deliciousness will make you feel like you’re cheating. However, with just five ingredients and 60 calories per ball, better to satiate your chocolate craving with these home made treats than a trip to the vending machine.

  • Pop 1 scoop of Neat Nutrition Protein Powder, 1 tablespoon cacao powder, ½ cup dates and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter in a food processor or blender.
  • Once blended, slowly add the milk or milk alternative of your choice until the mixture binds into lumps.
  • Roll into 10 bite sized balls.
  • If you want an extra chocolate hit, roll in cacao powder.
  • Store in the fridge to set, and you’re prepped for a week’s worth of snacking!

Shop here for Neat Nutrition