Protein is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dietary supplements. Protein powders are no longer consumed only by athletes or bodybuilders but have already become very well know to the general population.
What exactly is going on? Why does everyone get protein? How do you get started with so many different types on the market? Read this article to find answers to your questions.
What is Protein?
Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids, which are the body’s “raw materials” for building muscle, replicating DNA, and catalytic metabolic response. The human body can biosynthesize some amino acids, but not all, and this is simply why you need to add protein in your diet to get the rest!
Just like carbohydrates and fat, protein is classified as a macronutrient, which means that it is required in large quantities in your diet to enable your body to function properly.
What are the benefits of protein?
Protein is involved in many vital processes in our body and is a valuable contributor to our fitness goals. Used to produce enzymes and hormones, it is an important component of every cell in the body, and is a building block of muscle, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails.
In terms of general well-being and fitness, here are some of the ways this powerful nutrient can help you.
Building muscle mass
Using data from 49 studies over the past 23 years, a recent review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that dietary supplement protein optimizes both muscle mass and strength during resistance training. This is how it works:
Resistance training stimulates two muscle processes at the same time – catabolism (tissue breakdown) and anabolism (tissue growth).
The factor that affects which is the most preferred in the body is called “pure protein balance”. A positive pure protein balance favors anabolism and a negative one favors catabolism.
Consuming adequate dietary protein puts the body in a positive protein balance, and thus enhances muscle growth while lifting weights! It is simple math!
It is not just muscle mass and strength that improves via high protein intake. A study in the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that protein supplementation also reduces muscle fatigue.
Increasing your muscle mass and strength is not only ideal for fitness and looking good on the beach – it is essential for good health as you grow older! “Sarcopenia” is the degenerative loss of muscle mass in the elderly, causing weakness and loss of muscle function. It is incredibly common but can be avoided with proper nutrition and adequate strength and endurance training.
Over 40? Here is more on strength training
Higher protein diets have also been shown to help with weight management. Of course, a healthy, balanced diet is the key to a good body, but protein contributes to this goal.
Thermogenesis is the natural increase in energy that your body uses after eating. Protein causes a higher rate of thermogenesis than other nutrients – research in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism explains that consuming protein can actually allow the body to burn up to 20-30% more calories than carbohydrates or fat.
Simply put, protein helps you stay full for longer – reducing the chances of incidentally “snacking” an entire packet of cookies or a bag of chips between meals. Based on an optical analog scale, which measures the perception of appetite, people have been found to feel fuller after a 60% protein versus a 19% protein meal.
Muscles are metabolically active, which means that they need energy to simply exist. So, the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body will burn each day.
It is worth noting, however, that if you want to be slimmer, a higher protein diet does not mean you have to eat protein without limits. You should always be careful about the energy you consume versus the energy you spend.
Maintaining muscle mass
If you are trying to lose weight through dieting and limiting your energy intake, it is still very important to maintain an adequate protein intake – otherwise your body will burn muscle mass for energy and fat. As you can imagine this would not be good for your end body goals and health.
How much protein do I need?
Official health agency guidelines recommend that the basic requirement for adults be 0.75 g of dietary protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is about 55 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 45 grams per day for the average sedentary woman (equivalent to a fillet steak).
However, for anyone who wants to have increased muscle mass and improved athletic performance, they should definitely consume much more.
To maximize muscle growth, research from the Journal of Sports Sciences recommends consuming between:
1.3-1.8g per kilogram of body weight per day (the amount between these two points depends on the state of your training), and, up to 1.8-2g per kilogram of body weight per day during periods of energy restriction to prevent muscle loss – as you see more than double the official health agencies recommendations.
You may be thinking: Can’t I just get all my protein from food? And the answer is yes, you can.
Protein supplements are not meant to be a substitute for your daily meals, they are there to work alongside a healthy, balanced diet, as a convenient way to increase your protein intake, at a much lower cost.
For example, the average supermarket chicken breast will set you back 1.30USD and will contain 24 grams of protein per 100 grams of food, while the average protein scoop will cost 0.28USD and supply you with 80 grams of protein per 100 grams of product (depending on the product specifications).
Protein supplement is extremely important for everyone who wants a consistent atheleitc performance and looking for sustainable results. Saves time and money!
Whey is a natural by-product of milk and whey proteins are isolated from it during filtration. Whey protein is the most commonly used protein supplement due to its excellent digestibility, amino acid profile and rate of absorption.
Whey Protein is made from whey protein concentrate and may contains 80g of protein per 100g. It is the most popular and affordable blend, making it the most cost-effective way to get this important macronutrient into your diet.
Popular, high quality products shown below.
Isolated whey protein comes from the same source but has been carefully filtered to remove most of the fat and carbohydrates normally found in milk concentrates – making it ideal if you are monitoring your calorie intake.
It has an ideal protein content of 90g (or more) per 100g, and each serving has less than 100 calories.
Quality products of this category shown below.
Slow-release Casein is derived from milk and has a much slower rate of absorption than whey protein.This means that it takes longer to fully assimilate and be used by the body, making it ideal for delivering protein to your muscles at a slow and steady pace between meals or even while you sleep.
A slow-release casein mixture has a complete amino acid profile and typically about 75g of protein per 100g of product.
Weight Gain Formula
Weight gain mixes are ideal for people trying to increase their size and mass. Your body can only put on weight if it is in excess of calories, which happens when you consume more calories than you burn. This can be difficult and expensive when it is done only from food. Avoiding junk food here is key, because you may wish to gain some weight, but need to take care and stay healthy in the process. You do not need your arteries clogged along the way!
A typical Weight Gain Formula contains over 30g of protein per serving, along with 50g of plant-based carbohydrates and maltodextrin – giving your body a healthy calorie intake as well as quality protein.
The demand for vegetable protein powder has increased dramatically with the ever-growing vegan population. Supplementation is perhaps even more important in their case, as they do not receive protein from meat or animal products.
Vegan protein may be a powerful combination of pea protein, brown rice protein and hemp protein – providing as much as 75g of protein per 100g, with a range of amino acids that support muscle growth and maintenance.
When should I consume protein?
The answer is whenever you need it during the day to reach your daily intake. Ideally you can take it in the morning, before / after or during a workout or at night before bed (casein).
Protein powders are coming in more and more convenient forms and easy to digest. Therefore, you can enjoy a drink wherever you are and whatever you do.
If you just want to increase your protein intake, then you can consume it at any time that suits you best – some people prefer to add protein powders to cereals or oats or to the drinks they take with them.
It is important to get enough protein after a workout to help with muscle growth and recovery. Fast-absorbing proteins are best taken 30-60 minutes before or after a workout to maximize intake.
There are also slow-absorbing proteins such as casein that require more time to digest and thus feed your muscular system slowly and steadily. This is a good choice for bedtime or between meals.
Summarizing in one sentence
The strength and importance of Protein is clear. Whether you want muscle mass, increased volume, slimming or just health, it is essential to have protein as a key ingredient in your diet.
Note: Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. In case of concern, always seek the advice of an expert before taking supplements or changing your dietary choices.