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Protein Powders - what is a food and what is a supplement?

Protein is an essential nutrient for athletes, and plays a crucial role in supporting their training, performance, and recovery. Also, athletes have increased protein needs due to the demands of their physical activity and exercise regimen. Therefore, many athlete use protein supplements in addition to their dietary protein.

protein powders protein powders come in many forms

For an elite athlete trying to maximize their performance by supplementing their diet with extra protein, they need to be wary about what is in the products they are consuming.

The food landscape these days brings us many products with added protein powders. Considering all the foods companies that are currently adding protein, the lines are becoming blurred between what is a food and what is a supplement.

The advice provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and local authorities such as the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) about what supplements athletes are allowed and not allowed to consume, it is very specific. However, food-grade products which may be fortified with protein can be a very gray area, and should be of concern to athletes who are regularly drug tested. 

The ingredients list is where you will find all protein added to foods. This list can include protein powder, whey, whey protein, casein, casein powder, soy protein, soy nuggets, soy crisps, protein concentrate, protein isolate... (see reading food labels)

The next stage is a risk assessment that needs to be undertaken to decide if the product is worth consuming. Weighing up the quantity in the product with the risk it poses to the athlete, after finding out the source of the protein.

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