Powder or “Real Food?”

Stuffed salmon with green asparagus on the side

Stuffed salmon with green asparagus on the side

As long as there are choices, there will likely be a debate about powders as a primary source of protein versus “real food for real people.”

Body builders can’t seem to say enough about protein powder. Casual readers of their blogs might think these lean, muscular individuals don’t eat real food at all. They consume protein bars before working out and drink special shakes afterwards. Some articles are heavily weighted in favor of the shakes and mixes, especially articles by product affiliates, but intelligent writing depicts an ideal balance between supplements and real food. Which is better: a powdered supplement or real food that contains the vital nutrients you need?

Nutrition “in a Jar” versus Meat, Chicken, etc.

Protein is an essential nutrient which a body needs to create muscle. The body uses it to repair muscles injured during athletics, strained or inflamed by working out, or to make muscles bigger. It also goes into the creation of hair, nails, and bones. Dietitians often recommend that consumers eat just a little bit of red meat, more poultry, and a lot of fish in order to digest the best forms of the nutrient which contain amino acids and omega fatty acids. They also recommend nuts, seeds, and nut or seed butters for snack time plus some dairy (yogurt, cheese, and milk). Vegans are especially fond of beans and nuts as their primary sources of protein.

Scoop-fulls of any type of granulated stuff isn’t usually recommended by nutritionists and dietitians: workout gurus and trainers are the usual spokespersons for these products. Weight loss experts also promote the benefits of meal replacement drinks containing a full array of nutrients, and encourage participants to build muscle in order to burn fat. If their clients are exercising regularly, they will benefit from using them on occasion. But again, professionals won’t recommend them as a complete meal replacement on a long-term basis.


A healthy diet doesn’t need the addition of meal replacement products. If you are happy with your muscle density, aren’t trying to add muscle bulk, you aren’t overweight or underweight, and there are no other issues stopping you from eating well, just eat real food. It’s cheaper for one thing. For another thing, families who eat real meals together tend to be happier and more stable overall. Real food contains other essential ingredients for good health too.

Many people, however, have trouble digesting certain foods. It’s hard to cook up whey or pea protein into some kind of dish, but very easy to include either one in a smoothie. Those who need to gain weight following illness or because they are considered underweight by medical professionals may be encouraged to drink their meals in the short term. The body digests these easily and rapidly. Natural products contain good calories rather than bad fats, too much sodium, and synthetic sugar. A smoothie is often a great place to blend in veggies and fruits a person wouldn’t otherwise eat, especially a child wary of produce. Even though this is a drink, the caloric content can be significant.

Body builders have discovered they lay down additional muscle more readily if they add protein products such as bars and shakes to their workout regimen. The uptake is instant and results are startlingly quick.

Choose Wisely

Consumers planning to supplement with “foods in a jar” should always choose the purest forms possible. Flavorings can be added at home if you want them. Pay for whey, hemp, or Quinoa protein, not extracts, sugars, and colorants.

Best Organic Protein Options 2018