Protein is essential for your body, and for that reason, many gym-goers turn to protein supplements to help increase their intake of the macronutrient.

For someone making frequent trips to the gym, protein powder can be a convenient alternative to a regular meal. It’s easier to throw together a protein shake when you’re on the go than it is to prepare a balanced meal. But with convenience comes great responsibility. Be sure to do your research before you invest in a protein powder, as there are many to choose from and quality can vary greatly.

Even in Canada, the supplement industry is not heavily regulated, which means that you can’t be certain what your protein supplement actually contains. Certainly, quality is very important. You should look for a reputable brand that does not include any filler ingredients and is free of artificially sweeteners and colour.

Protein is necessary for your body to fuel and build muscles, but in many cases, we receive enough protein from our diets. The recommended protein intake for an adult is about 1 gram for every pound of bodyweight. If you’re 160 pounds, then you should be receiving roughly 65 (160 grams) grams of protein each day. Of course, this ratio increases based on your daily level of activity. With a relatively balanced diet, many of us hit this target consistently.

Eating a balanced diet with protein-rich foods is the best way to ensure that your protein intake is appropriate for your body. Prioritizing food like eggs, tuna and salmon, nuts and legumes and lean meats means that your body will be primed for muscle building when you hit the gym. If you’re after convenience, protein supplements are fine to use in moderation, but obtaining your protein intake from whole foods over the course of a day is the best way to get the energy your body needs to move.