Athletes need protein—it’s a must. According to a recent article from Runner’s World, athletes can expect fatigue, loss of muscle mass, and heightened risk of injury when protein consumption is low. (The article recommends 0.55 to 0.77 grams per lb of body weight, meaning a 130-pound person should eat 72 to 100 grams of protein a day.) Meat is often the first protein people consider, but studies confirm it’s not necessarily the best option. So, why not try something new?
Check out three of the newest forms of protein to hit the market:
1. Blue-green Algae: Forget steak, eggs, or even tofu, you can get your protein from algae. ENERGYbits has hit the fitness scene with tiny little bits made of spirulina, a blue-green algae. The bits contain a complete protein with the algae, glucose, and nitric oxide. The company claims that these three ingredients can provide an athlete with the rapid access to glucose and protein for top performance. Additionally, the bits claim to give the body an energy boost that many have to use caffeine or chemicals to achieve. ENERGYbits’ protein concentration is at 60% which is very hard to find in most protein sources. A lot of research states that spirulina contains the highest concentration of protein in the world.
2. Pea Protein: A rising star in the protein game is pea protein. But it must be noted that the little peas in the pod, or the English pea, that you’ve served for years isn’t the source. It’s actually the field pea, or the peas that are often dried and turned into soup. And if you grind them up, de-fat them, and combine them with brown rice protein, you’ve created a complete protein, void of animal or soy. Larabar introduced a new line of bars last year called ALT Bars. These were some of the first mainstream items to contain pea protein. Vega is also a big player in the pea protein game. The need for alternate complete protein sources seems to be on the rise as veganism rises.
3. Cricket Protein: If you thought algae or peas were an odd place to get your protein, what are your thoughts about crickets? A great story from The New York Times tells about guys on the paleo diet struggling to find an easy protein source free of grains or soy. Long story short, a company called Exo, which utilizes cricket protein, was birthed from this struggle. Insects are 69 percent protein by dry weight. Compare this to 31 percent for chicken, or 29 percent for sirloin steak. But, who wants to munch down on a cricket? Well, the Exo founders found that if you create cricket flour, you end up with a high protein dust that has very little taste. So, they added almonds, dates, honey, and cocoa and they created a protein bar that may change the face of protein forever.