If you’re getting serious about working out, it may be time to start taking protein supplements to help your muscles not only heal properly, but grow. In addition to the protein you receive in your diet, protein supplements give you the extra protein you need for serious workouts, both before and after you hit the gym.
My post today is going to go over not only what protein supplements are and which ones are best for you, but also some things to watch out for on the tubs you can buy online. Although they’re cheap, they may not necessarily be the healthiest for you. And with that, let’s dive right in.
What is Protein?
In short, protein is essential to the growth and repair of different muscles and tissues in the body. Typically different amino acids come together to form essential proteins that the body can use to encourage muscle growth.
Obviously, meat and dairy products are great sources of protein for the body as they contain high amounts of different amino acids that can be converted into protein that the body can use. The only downside to consuming large amounts of dairy and meat is that they often contain many unwanted fats that are bad for the body. Meat is typically high in saturated fat and cholesterol which are linked to heart disease and cancers.
How Much Protein
Now that we’ve gotten the “meat” of the article out of the way about what protein is and how we normally get it into our bodies, it’s time to talk about the functional side of things. How much protein should you eat on a daily basis? Nutitionists always recommend different things to different patients, but the general rule of thumb I like to use is to determine your body weight and use that as the number of grams of protein you should consume daily if you’re actively working out. If you’re not very active, dividing your protein number found out above by 2 is a good guesstimate of what you should be eating on a daily basis.
Example: If you weigh 200 pounds and are working out vigorously each day, that means that you should be eating anywhere between 150 grams to 200 grams of protein each day. If you’re sedentary and only work out occasionally, 75 to 100 grams should suffice.
When you start working out on a regular basis, the protein intake that you get from eating naturally is often not enough to encourage healthy muscle growth, nor is it enough to help repair your muscles from a vigorous workout. That’s where protein supplements come in. A protein supplement is simply a powder or drink mix that you can have that will help your body get the extra protein it needs after a workout to help it rebuild muscle tissue and fibers after being used vigorously.
The Types of Supplements
Just like there are many different ways to get protein from natural sources, proteins that are used in powders and supplements come from different sources as well. While there are many different types of protein you can try, the two most common ones you’ll find on your store shelves are whey protein and soy protein. Both have their benefits and drawbacks as you’ll see in a minute, but both are adequate sources for someone looking to build extra muscle and get into better shape.
Whey Protein: Whenever milk is produced or cheese is made, the byproduct is known as whey. Whey protein is anything that’s left after milk has been left to coagulate and turn back into soluble materials. When the whey protein is isolated from milk or cheese protection the proteins within can be “denatured,” or turned into proteins that react with the body’s other natural proteins and will avoid water when they enter your digestive system. This helps these somewhat natural dairy proteins to be better absorbed and used by the body’s processes to restore and rebuild.
Soy Protein: I won’t pretend to know everything about soy proteins, but it’s a pretty easy concept to understand where it comes from. Soy beans, when ground up, produce soy flour and isolates. The protein itself is made from the flour that has been processed and had the fats and cholesterol removed from it. The protein is then concentrated and sold in stores as a supplement that you can take alongside regular protein rich meals to get the extra protein you need.
Which to Choose
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter which protein you decide to go with. There are some side effects to be aware of with soy protein however. Since soy is very high in estrogen, eating too much soy protein could increase the level of estrogen in your body. If you’re a male, this is obviously an undesirable side-effect. Whey protein is often seen as the more “natural” protein source as it comes straight from dairy products and has simply been concentrated into something that can be consumed by itself. The nutritional content of each type of protein will vary, so make sure to look at the nutritional facts label online before making a decision about your own dietary needs.
I’ve been using Optimum Nutrition protein supplements for years because of how high quality the protein is and how many positive reviews the supplement has received on Amazon and on other health-food websites. With very few carbohydrates and low cholesterol, Optimum’s product is definitely the best whey protein on the market in my book considering it comes with a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving. That makes it easy to toss into a shake or a glass of milk in the morning to get your extra daily protein.
A lot of new protein shake drinkers will opt for chocolate or strawberry as their first flavor of choice. I generally like to advise against this as it really limits your options when it comes to what you can mix it with. Vanilla is my favorite flavor because of how neutral it is and how easily it gets masked by any other flavors added to it. Chocolate and strawberry are hard flavors to mask and if you just want a plain shake one day, you can’t exactly escape the chocolate flavor.
If anyone has any recommendations on their own personal favorite soy protein or whey protein products they’d like to share, by all means please comment below. We love to hear back from our readers!