Protein pills are a way to increase your intake of the macronutrient. Protein, in general, is one of the most popular nutritional supplements available. Adequate protein plays varying roles in your body, including helping repair tissue, build muscle and make hormones.
Most people supplement with protein pills or shakes, but the pills are different. Protein pills or capsules are a simple, affordable way to increase protein intake. The most common ingredients in these pills aren’t whey protein, like powders. Instead, you’ll often find they’re made with bone broth, collagen, and amino acids. Some protein pills contain soy, casein, whey or pea powder. There’s no taste or smell; protein pills are lower in calories than powders and shakes.
With that being said, are they safe?
How Is a Capsule Form of Protein Different?
When you take a pill version of the protein, different compared to a powder or another type of supplement include:
- Powders can lead to uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating. Switching to a pill reduces this risk.
- Pills with protein have few, if any, calories, which can be a benefit for weight loss. Of course, some people take protein to gain weight when they’re bulking, in which case pills can be a downside.
- If you want to eat clean, tablets and capsules may be better because they often have fewer additives. Harmful ingredients are less likely to be added to a capsule than powders. Protein powders are often under fire for lack of transparency into their ingredients and the unnecessary additives and chemicals.
- For vegans and vegetarians, pills may offer more options. For example, some protein pills are made from hemp or soy protein. It’s important to know certain types of protein don’t have all the amino acids needed.
- Pills have less protein overall than powder, which can be good or bad, depending on your goals. On average, with a single protein powder serving, you might get around 20 grams. With pills, you may only get around 2 grams of protein.
The Benefits of Protein Supplements
According to information from the National Academy of Medicine, adults should get more than seven grams of protein for each 20 pounds of body weight. If you don’t think you can get sufficient amounts from food sources, you can fill in the gaps with a supplement, which could include protein pills.
If you’re choosing protein pills, try to find ones that have important essential amino acids like leucine and valine.
What Are Protein Pills Made From?
As mentioned, protein pills are often made from different ingredients than powders.
Many are collagen-based. Collagen helps with exercise recovery, muscle strength, and nail, bone, and joint health. Collagen is high in amino acids like proline and glycine. Research shows collagen protein may help reduce wrinkles and signs of aging and can help with joint disorders. Your bones primarily comprise collagen, so taking a supplement can help prevent or reverse bone loss. Around 10% of your muscle tissue is collagen, so a collagen supplement could help stimulate muscle growth following exercise.
Bone broth protein is also often included in capsule supplements. Bone broth is brewed from bones with connective tissue. Bone broth is high in collagen, protein, minerals, and other nutrients. For example, bone broth has iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
Are Protein Pills Safe?
Generally, protein pills are safe, as are powders. What’s important is that you buy supplements from a reputable company that’s transparent about its ingredients and conducts third-party testing. When a protein company uses third-party testing, they show its product’s safety and its ingredients’ safety and transparency.
People often worry that taking too much protein could have negative effects, but research doesn’t support this. For example, there’s a myth that too much protein powder can affect kidney and liver function. Recent studies have disproven this. Unless you have decreased kidney function or chronic kidney disease, consuming even large amounts of protein shouldn’t be an issue.
There was also a long-term myth that people thought high-protein diets were bad for bone health. The idea was that protein had high acid content that could strip bones of their calcium, weaknening them. Based on current research, we now know that high protein diets can improve bone health.
There are potential digestive issues that can occur for people who consume large amounts of protein, but this isn’t likely to happen with capsules because they do have lower amounts overall.
Protein pills are a safe, affordable, and convenient way to increase your intake. If you have very specific goals like building muscle mass, they might not have enough protein content, so a powder could be a better supplement option for you.
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