A Guide to Protein Powder
do you really need to know about protein
powder? After all, 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 ladies?
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
So, 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
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 cannot.
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,
that you should limit yourself to a
maximum of three per day or 40 % of
your meals. To some this might sound
like going 'overboard' and I would not
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 healthy?
I get this question
emailed to me almost everyday. I just
showed how it 'works' as a supplement
to help you hit your supplemental protein
mark but you are probably still wandering,
'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 build and maintain healthy muscles
when combined with diet and exercise.
Support red blood cell production
Boost your immune system
Keep your hair, fingernails, and skin
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 companies history, and reputation.
And then make a decision and take responsibility!
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) -
Meal 2 (mid morning) - liquid protein
Meal 3 (lunch) - whole food
Meal 4 (mid afternoon)
Meal 5 (pre and post
workout) liquid protein meal
Meal 6 (dinner) whole
Meal 7 (before bed)
What kind of protein
powder should I use?
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 anabolic state.
CASEIN PROTEIN makes
up 80% of total milk protein. Casein
is recognized for its excellent amino
acid profile, slow digestion 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 a workout 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 the pre-workout
and post-workout window.
Whey Protein Versus
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.
Whey 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 cost.
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 very 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.
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.
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 starring 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.