Probably the most common question we get asked about at the gym is “Do I need to take protein powder?” . If you’re an MMA Fighter, Jiu Jitsu practitioner, bodybuilder or just trying to lose weight / stay fit the real answer is you do need protein but not necessarily in a powdered form.
We sell protein powders and I take them regularly but all we are really talking about here is a source of powdered food that is easy and quick to consume, it is not a drug or anything particularly special in that sense... If you have got the time to prepare lots of meals with poultry, fish, soy and or dairy then you can probably get all the protein you need without ever buying a protein powder.
Why do we need protein? Protein is made up of amino acids and amino acids are the building blocks of our muscles. If I want to grow muscle, repair muscle or maintain muscle I need to make sure my body has a steady supply of protein/amino acids to work with.
All proteins however are not created equal and each one has a different rate of absorption in the body and a differing percentage of how much of the absorbed protein can be utilized. Protein efficacy is measured by Biological Value and Whey protein Isolate tends to sit at the top of that scale on the other hand flour, wheat’s, and curd tend to sit around the bottom.
When It comes to buying protein powder these days you will likely be presented with a plethora of choices.. Slow digesting time release proteins are the current trend and tend to contain a blend of fast digesting and slow digesting proteins which in theory give the body a constant supply of protein for many hours.. If you aren’t able to get to food regularly through the day or if you want a shake before bed this might be a good choice. In my opinion though its easier to have a whey protein isolate around and just mix it with milk if I want to make it into a slower digesting protein.
Whey protein isolate is utilized by the body very well although recent studies have shown that the body will not use more than around 20g of it in one serving. This make its ideal for consumption around workouts to make sure that your body has an immediate influx of protein to work with after you have just broken down some muscle tissue. If you want the best absorption rate then you should mix the powder with water. Again though if you want to transform this into a slow digesting protein just mix it with some milk.
Milk protein is around 80% casein and casein is one of the slowest digesting forms of protein hence why blending it with whey will allow for a slower utilization overall.
You could also just buy a tub of pure casein powder if you prefer.
In the world of protein powders there is an almost infinite selection. Ive only covered a couple of the more popular options here but if you are vegetarian or don’t like dairy etc.. then there are still plenty of options out there for you. Go into your local gym and ask, bodybuilders tend to be walking encyclopedias about protein. Make sure you use the internet too and find reviews of different protein powders. Just make sure you do your homework and don’t just buy the first thing you see because the guy behind the counter says it’s the best thing out there.
Protein powders are not the cheapest thing in the world but for most people who are involved in regular exercise they become a regular and necessary part of life.
I hope this helps some of you out there to work your way through the minefield that is protein purchasing!!
Just as a quick added extra .. A lot of people say to me "oh im not trying to get big and muscly so I dont need that".. Ive never met anyone who got big and muscly from just drinking protein shakes. Bodybuilders set out with the intention of being huge and you will not reach that point without actually setting out to do so. What is important is making sure that you consume enough protein to minimize the amount of muscle tissue that your body eats to feed itself after a hard training session!!
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