Protein. Potentially the most talked about macronutrient in
the world of fitness. How much? When? How many times a day? These questions can
be hard to answer, mainly because everyone has different protein requirements
depending on their size, shape, goals and activity levels. Someone doing strenuous
weight lifting alongside an active job is going to need more protein than a
person just getting into weight training.
The first thing many people think of when they think about protein is usually meat. But what if you’re protein requirements, or the amount of protein you need to reach your goals, cannot be achieved through solid foods, either because it would be just too much to eat or that you can’t fit that many meals into your day. While many other foods do contain protein (beans and pulses, vegetables, dairy and eggs), sometimes reaching your protein goals can seem unrealistic and unattainable.
This is where protein powder often comes in.
Why take protein powder?
Protein powder is extremely popular and anyone undertaking a health and fitness plan, going to the gym, or wanting to build muscle will undoubtedly be taking protein powder in some form or another. Protein is vital for not only for maintaining and building muscle, but is also necessary for many biological processes in the body, such as hormone production. Protein powder provides the body with protein (obviously!) and amino acids, which promote muscle growth. It also gives the body a good helping of BCAA’s (which you can read about here). If you skimp on the protein your muscles will not receive an adequate amount of fuel needed to repair the muscles after an intense workout. It is protein that is used to repair the tears in the muscle tissue caused by training, helping them to recover quickly. This can reduce recovery time which go towards improving your overall performance, getting you closer to your goals.
Why not just eat some protein rich food?
Food requires significantly more digestion than liquid, it has to be broken down! Therefore having a protein shake within an hour of finishing a workout will get to work on some much needed repair.
The minimum amount of protein for building muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. For example if you weigh 170 pounds then you need to eat 170grams of protein to maintain or build muscle. Depending on your personal goals however, you may need to increase your intake. More is not always necessarily better however, the body can only use a certain amount of protein at any one time, and this will of course be personal to you. An excess of protein powder may cause digestive discomfort and nausea that should be a sign you might be having a bit too much.
Which protein is right for me?
There are so many protein powders out there on the market it can often be hard to choose one that suits you best. Some people are happy to have plain tasteless powder mixed with milk or water, while others prefer blends or sweetened mixes. Some protein powder mixes also offer additional ingredients such as Magnesium or CLA so find one that looks good for you.
Whey protein is made from the liquid that separates from milk when cheese is made. This protein source offers a full spectrum of amino acids, both essential and non-essential making it a complete high quality protein. This protein is thought to be easily digested and therefore fast acting on muscle repair when taken straight after a workout. The three types of Whey protein usually found in protein shakes are Whey concentrate, hydrolysate and Isolate. The most common being Concentrate.
Popular amongst vegans, pea protein provides a high amount of protein to those looking for an alternative to whey. Many people with intolerances can tolerate pea protein a lot better than other protein powders. This powerful protein offers an array of amino acids, including those much sort after BCAA’s!
Hemp protein is another great vegan alternative, offering a complete amino acid profile. This protein also has the additional benefit of being full of essential fatty acids.
Other popular and less so popular protein sources comes from rice protein, soya protein, chia protein and even sunflower protein powder. All protein powders will differ on protein content and amino acid profiles.
So now you know why, when and which, take a look at some of our proteins here!