|So what do you really need to know about protein
powder? As a skinny guy or beginner to the whole bodybuilding scene
you simply want to know a few answers. Is protein powder necessary?
Does it really work? How much do I need? What kind should I take?
What is the best? And finally, will any of these answers make a
difference when it comes to getting jacked and attracting the
This article is not meant for you if you want to
learn the science behind the ion-exchanged, cross-mutaed,
isotopically labeled protein tracers - blah blah blah. In this
article, I will strip away all the hype, science, and confusion that
surrounds protein powder. By the time you are through this article
and put it to memory, you will become the resident protein powder
expert and amaze your friends the next time you visit the sport
nutrition store. No more 2-hour shopping trips for protein powder
because you don't really have a clue what to look for!
Is Protein Powder really necessary?
although protein supplements are not an absolute requirement for
gaining mass, I have yet to meet any person able to get 400 grams of
protein per day from cooking food. If your protein intake is greater
than 200 grams per day I will suggest a protein powder - it will
make your life a lot easier.
In addition, dollar for dollar,
protein powders and meal replacement drinks tend to be more cost
effective than whole food. Don't get me wrong, though. Protein
powders are still supplements in my book. Supplement means an
addition to the diet. I emphasize this because the focus of any diet
should be food. Whole food is often preferable to powders
because it can offer a whole spectrum of nutrients that powders
Most of your dietary protein should come
from meat, fish, poultry and eggs. However getting all your protein
from whole food is not always practical or convenient, especially if
you have to eat 6 or more times a day to get your required intake. I
will stress to you, for optimal muscle gains, you should
limit yourself to a maximum of three shakes per day or 40 % of your
meals. To some this might even sound like it's going
'overboard' and I would not disagree.
The bottom line is
that both food and supplements are necessary to achieve a complete
nutritional balance as well as the desired level of protein intake,
especially if you're not a big fan of cooking. And I assume that
over 95% of you reading this do not have a personal maid at home
cooking all your meals while you sit around waiting for your next
meal. Do not make the fatal mistake of thinking protein powders can
take the place of a solid training and nutrition program.
Does protein powder really work and are they
I get this question emailed to me almost
every day. I just showed how it 'works' as a supplement to help you
hit your supplemental protein mark but you are probably still
wondering, 'Yeah, but is protein powder going to help me get
muscular or is it a scam?" A better question would be, "Does protein
really work?" and the obvious answer is 'yes.' You are fully aware
that protein is composed of building blocks called amino acids,
which performs a variety of functions in the body such as building
and maintaining healthy muscles when combined with diet and
exercise. Protein also:
- Supports red blood cell production
- Boosts your immune system
- Keeps your hair, fingernails, and skin healthy
However, not all protein powder is created equal. Most
protein powder contains an array of questionable ingredients such as
aspartame, saccharin, fructose and artificial colors. It's
interesting to note how unhealthy most of these protein powders
actually are. Look for a protein powder with natural ingredients
rather than products that are sweetened with chemicals and made with
ingredients that are certainly not going to create an environment
for muscle growth and fat burning.
Also avoid products with
refined carbohydrates such as fructose, sucrose or brown rice syrup.
Make sure that the product is made from a reputable company that is
genuinely interested in good health. Unfortunately supplement
manufacturers will continue to meet the demands of bodybuilding
consumers with unknown crappy products because we buy it and it is
cheaper for them to create. Do your homework by seeking out
unbiased reviews, investigating the company’s history, and
reputation. And then make a decision and take
In the past one of my criteria for
a healthy protein product was that it was great tasting and that it
should mix easily. Most protein powders mix quite easily, even with
a spoon, however I was disappointed to discover that taste will
inevitably be sacrificed for a safe and healthy product. I can live
with this. You see, once a product is removed of all artificial
chemical sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose, and simple
sugars, it is left almost tasteless and sometimes even gross.
How much protein powder do I need?
A better question would be, "How much pure protein do I need
to achieve my goals?"
Protein is an extremely important
macro nutrient and should be eaten frequently throughout the day. I
recommend at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body
mass. This means that if you are 150 pounds and 10% body fat (150 x
0.10 = 15 lbs of fat leaving 135 lbs of lean mass), you will require
at least 135 to approximately 205 grams of protein per day.
I recommend that protein powder be used primarily for your
pre-workout, workout and post-workout shake. This is when liquid
food is more advantageous over whole food since it has a faster
I do not recommend protein powder do be
used for meal replacements for more than two meals. Here is what a
typical day might look like:
Meal 1 (breakfast) - whole food
Meal 2 (mid morning) - liquid protein meal
(lunch) - whole food
Meal 4 (mid afternoon) whole food
Meal 5 (pre and post workout) liquid protein meal
Meal 6 (dinner) whole food
Meal 7 (before bed) whole
What kind of protein powder should I
Before deciding which protein powder is
necessary, here is a short protein primer to help you make sense of
the thousands of different protein powders from which to choose:
WHEY PROTEIN makes up 20% of total milk
protein. Whey is recognized for its excellent amino acid
profile, high cysteine content, rapid digestion, and interesting
variety of peptides. Since it is very quickly digested the best time
to consume it is before your workout, during your workout or
immediately after your workout. These would be considered the phase
in the day where you need energy the most and when your body is in
CASEIN PROTEIN makes up 80% of total
milk protein. Casein is recognized for its excellent amino
acid profile, slow digestive nature, and interesting variety of
peptides. Since casein is slowly digested into your bloodstream,
don't use it during workouts or after workouts - you need a fast
absorbing protein at these times. Instead, use a casein protein for
all other times outside the pre and post workout window.
SOY PROTEIN is the most controversial of all protein
types. While the soy groupies have gone to great lengths to
label soy as a super food with magical effects, there is also a good
amount of research that suggests soy protein may be contraindicated
in many situations. BECAUSE OF ALL THE CONFUSION, IN MY PERSONAL
OPINION, I SUGGEST AVOIDING SOY PROTEIN ALTOGETHER AND STICKING TO
THE OTHER TYPES LISTED.
Protein Blends are generally
a combination of several types of protein blends such as whey
protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein
protein, and soy protein.
Why would you want a
blend anyway? You will receive the full spectrum of proteins and you
will receive varying rates of absorption from the different types of
protein. Using a blend will create an anabolic environment from the
whey and an anti-catabolic environment from the casein - use this
kind at any time of the day but NOT before or after a workout.
Whey hydrolysates (also known as hydrolyzed whey protein,
and are also called peptides), are powerful proteins that are more
quickly absorbed; more so than any other form, since your body
prefers peptides to whole proteins. Hydrolysates are produced
through very low heat, low acid and mild enzymatic filtration
processes, (those highest in the essential and the branched chain
amino acids) and are potentially the most anabolic for short-term
protein synthesis such as the pre and post-workout window.
Whey Protein Versus Whey
Most whey protein powders that stock the
supplement shelves are made up of whey concentrate and mixed in with
a small portion of whey isolate. Comparing the two, whey protein
isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate because it
has a higher quality (more pure) and a higher BV (biological value).
Whey protein isolate contains more protein and less fat and lactose
per serving. Most whey protein isolates contain 90-98% protein while
whey concentrates contain 70-85% protein.
isolate is the highest yield of protein currently available that
comes from milk. Because of its chemical properties it is
the easiest to absorb into your system. Obviously with its
high concentration, it appears that an isolate protein would be the
obvious choice instead of a concentrate. However, this is an
individual decision because the isolate is more expensive, and just
because it is purer does not guarantee that it will help build
bigger muscles. Its extra concentration may not justify its extra
SO WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE? WHICH
SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
For the Pre-workout and
Post-workout phases, as long as whey hydrolysate is the first or
second ingredient on the supplement label then there is probably not
enough in the product to influence protein synthesis to reap the
optimal benefits. As stated, whey isolates are also a extremely high
quality whey and for maximal anabolism isolates should be combined
with whey hydrolysates for only the pre-workout and post-workout
phases of your program. The inclusion of small amounts of whey
concentrates will not harm you but this should not be the first
ingredient on the tub of protein powder.
IF YOU ARE
LOOKING FOR THE STRONGEST PROTEIN POWDER TO EXPLOIT YOUR FULL GROWTH
POTENTIAL DURING THE GROWTH AND RECOVERY PHASES (ANY TIME OTHER THAN
PRE AND POST WORKOUT PERIOD) THEN USE A BLEND.
will receive the full spectrum of proteins and you will receive
varying rates of absorption from the different types of protein.
Using a blend will create an anabolic environment from the whey and
an anti-catabolic environment from the casein.
I hope this article familiarized
you with the basics of protein powder and gave you a foundation to
work from when deciding on your next order. Don't get caught up in
the hype and start becoming a more educated consumer when you take
your next trip to the nutrition store. Now you can tell the sales
rep exactly what you are looking for instead of staring blankly at
the shelves without a clue!
Oh yeah, protein powder will
help you get more jacked and attract the ladies, but it's not going
to do it in a 'ultra short period of time' with the simple addition
to your diet.