Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair.
If you didn’t know that, now you do. Protein is also essential for optimal health, and ultimately our survival. Protein Shakes can play their part in this. (but they aren’t magic)
Most of our dietary protein should come from our food.
Good old animal proteins such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy are all top of the tree when it comes to protein.
Other options include, beans, pulses, nuts, tofu etc (but animal is still top of the tree I’m afraid… and no protein doesn’t kill you and it’s not bad for your kidneys)
What about the Protein Shakes?
Those of you who have read the blog ‘healthy eating is expensive’ will know that health foods and supplements are BIG BUSINESS.
A supplement that is common amongst the those who train is whey protein. Often in the form of a ‘protein shake’.
Whey protein is often a powder supplement (derived from milk) that you add to water or milk.
They can help you, along with your food, consume adequate protein throughout the day and they are also convenient for after training.
Most shakes will contain around 20g-30g Protein.
There are two common misconceptions we see regularly when it comes to protein shakes and the perceived effect of taking them.
(I’m going to sound sexist here, but its just through experience and observation)
1 – Females (and males, but mostly the fairer sex) worry that if they take a protein shake they are going to become Lou Ferrigno over night…. I wish this was the case, I’d be a monster.
2 – Dudes (maybe some ladies too) think that because they are taking all the protein powder under the sun, they are going to turn into (insert famous jacked person) overnight.
So, what’s the deal?
Whey protein is a very good source of protein and can certainly be added to a nutrition strategy to help you get enough protein daily. (If you’re training aim for around 2g/kg bodyweight daily)
It’s not a magic powder.
It’s just a good source of protein, as is chicken, fish, meat, eggs etc.
It has a slightly higher bio-availability than some other sources of protein, meaning it can be absorbed faster, but that’s not really of concern to most of us.
The main benefit is that it’s convenient after training, a good snack option if we are on the go and can help hit your protein target if you struggle to hit it through food.
Protein, as we’ve said, is essential (like the fat we talked about in the ‘fat makes you fat’ blog’)
We need it to live, there is no myth here.
If we are training, it’s even more important.
We need to repair the damage that’s done when we train and that’s what protein will help do, through what we call, protein synthesis.
If you are dieting and in a calorie deficit, then it becomes even more important. We want to limit the amount of Muscle Protein Breakdown so we can look after what muscle we do have whilst dropping fat.
It’s also satiating (keeps us full), and thats important when we are dieting as hunger is a biological response.
You don’t NEED to have a shake if you’re hitting enough protein through your diet, but it can help as some find it hard to hit their target and it’s not always convenient to pull a chicken breast out of the gym bag.
Plus there is nothing better than finding an un-washed protein shaker in the car after 3 weeks festering.
If you’ve never done this… do you even lift?
Gaining muscle is hard and takes time.
Ladies, you aren’t going to get hench! (read how slow it can be in the fellas bit below)
You require a little more testosterone to build muscle to the extent that you’d be worried.
Building a little muscle is good thing.
When you say you want to tone up, but not get big and muscle bound, don’t worry you won’t.
It has a positive effect on your metabolism too.
Fellas, the same applies.
Unfortunately, you’re not going to get massive by blowing all your money on the latest
‘Anabolic Muscle Mass Protein Powder With 200000000g of protein per serving with the new proprietary blend of amino acids with slow and fast release protein to be consumed exactly 19.4minutes post work out’
Or whatever other shit they write on the pack of protein shakes these days. (the dude advertising it is using more than the protein shake he’s holding to look like that – trust me)
If your goal is to pack on muscle, you need to consume enough protein in total.
Most of it should come from your food and aim to spread the servings out over 4-5 servings a day to keep protein synthesis elevated.
Manage your expectations.
Beginners can pack on muscle fairly quickly, so make the most of your first 6-18months.
From then on its a snails pace, depressingly slow, 5lbs – 7lbs lean muscle tissue in a year is good going.
Supplements will play a very minor role in your progress, focus on the things thats matter first:
- Get your calories into the right ball park.
- Eat enough protein.
- Drink enough water.
- Aim for 80% of your nutrition to come form whole, un-processed sources.
- BE CONSISTENT
When these are all on point then maybe look into protein shakes and supplements.
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