Protein powder has become incredibly popular in mainstream fitness over the past few years. This rise in popularity has been credited to the emergence of Instagram models and their promotional deals (for some reason protein powder companies love to push with social media stars). But what is it? How do you use it? Does it even work? Everyone asks these questions when they consider delving into the world of protein and upping their fitness regime.
What is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is made from protein alternatives such as whey, wheat or soy, these are dried out and crushed to form a fine powder. This powder contains high concentrates of protein and provides an easier way to get a lot of protein in a smaller portion. It is often mixed with milk or water and is used to quickly ingest more protein for your exercise regime. You can even blend with fruit to make a smoothie or with milk, oats and banana for a healthy protein pancake.
Do I Need It?
If you’re bulking and are expending a lot of your daily calories in exercise, then you need more than the recommended daily amount of protein (55g). This is because your body is exerting more effort than what is predicted of the average person and needs the calories to be replaced I order to repair muscles and increase strength.
How Much Should I Use and When?
In a protein shake, you should mix30g with your choice of milk or water. 30g is recommended or most protein powders because that is the average amount it takes to repair the damage and muscle stress that has been caused by your workout. A high protein diet can help reduce body fat too so be generous with your helpings.
As to WHEN you should be ingesting protein powder, the answer is always straight after a workout. After training, your muscles are crying out for salvation and you can provide it with a protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing. This helps to begin the recovery process by sending amino acids into your bloodstream, which then turns into new muscle tissues.
Types of Protein
Whey, Casein and Weight Gainer
These are the three main types of protein powder and by far are the most popular and successful. Whey is the liquid left over from the cheese-making process, it is rapidly digested and absorbed into the digestive system so it gets to the bloodstream, and therefore the muscles, quickly. Casein is the protein that is found in dairy and makes up around 80% of cows milk’s protein content. Casein is absorbed slowly, over hours and is best used after a morning workout to help recovery and to slowly release amino acids throughout the day. Weight gainer is perfect for adding physical size to muscles during the bulking process, it is a high protein, high-calorie option so shouldn’t be used if your training regime is minimal or non-existent, as you’ll just gain weight.
Egg Protein – expensive but contains all essential amino acids
Soy Protein – vegetarian and may increase oestrogen hormone
Rice Protein – contains lots of carbs but is good for vegans
Hemp Protein – high fibre but is missing an important amino acid
Pea Protein – Slow releasing but not a complete protein source, tastes pretty bad too.