What are Protein Supplements?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Protein supplements are nutritional supplements that are intended to add nourishment to the body in addition to what is provided in food. They are used by people who need to boost their protein intake for any number of reasons but are most often used by people focused on fitness who are trying to build muscle. Two of the most common kinds of protein in supplements are whey protein and soy protein.

Protein powders can be mixed with milk, water, or smoothies for a meal substitute.
Protein powders can be mixed with milk, water, or smoothies for a meal substitute.

It is quite common for protein supplements to come in the form of a powder. These powders are made to be dissolved into liquids and consumed as drinks. Many of them are flavored so that they taste like milkshakes. Common flavors are chocolate, mocha, vanilla, and strawberry. Some protein supplements come pre-mixed in bottles or cans and are ready to consume.

Protein powder can be added to green smoothies made with kale or other nutrient-packed green vegetables.
Protein powder can be added to green smoothies made with kale or other nutrient-packed green vegetables.

Protein supplements can be added to smoothies to boost the level of nutrition in the drink. This is a rather popular way to ingest extra protein. In fact, there are a number of smoothie chains that include protein supplements on their menus. For use in a smoothie, it is best to use supplements that are either flavorless or fruit-flavored.

It isn't only fitness enthusiasts who benefit from these kinds of supplements. Protein supplements can be very important to people who have dietary restrictions that keep them from eating meat, fish, dairy, or other common foods that are rich in protein. Vegetarians and vegans often rely on protein supplements. Not all supplements are entirely vegetarian or vegan-friendly. There are a few products on the market that are formulated specifically for people who follow these kinds of diets.

People who, for one reason or another, need to stick to liquid diets can benefit from protein supplements. While these kinds of supplements are not allowed on all liquid diets, especially clear liquid diets, they can be an important nutritional source for anyone who has to refrain from ingesting solid food. For this reason, protein powder supplements that can be stirred into a beverage can be very important to people who cannot chew or bite down because of oral surgery.

Most health food stores and vitamin stores carry a number of different kinds of alternative protein sources. Small sizes and trial sizes are often available for people who are trying to find the supplement that they like the best. Protein supplements can also be purchased online from web retailers.

Most health food stores and vitamin stores carry a number of different kinds of alternative protein supplements.
Most health food stores and vitamin stores carry a number of different kinds of alternative protein supplements.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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