A new trend in nutritional supplements, protein powder(s), promote rapid muscle regeneration, stimulate the user’s energy levels, reduce recovery time after training and offer a feeling of satiety (especially useful for those trying to control their body weight and reducing their daily calorie intake).
Nowadays, the majority of athletes – men and women, young and old, professionals and amateurs, people wishing to increase their muscle mass and achieve weight loss – use protein powders as a booster for their training sessions.
All this is very well justified, as even people following a low calorie diet for weight and fat loss take care of maintaining their lean muscle mass during this process.
Furthermore, protein shakes also help boost the user’s athletic performance (in physical strength, energy, endurance and efficiency).
Is there a “correct use” of protein powders?
Could they harm the user’s health or athletic performance?
Which is the best way of use for obtaining maximum benefits?
As shown by research studies, many experienced and professional athletes fail to see the true benefits of using protein powders.
Do we know the reason for this?
Experts answer, “improper use”, is the main reason for not receiving all benefits of protein.
Just protein cannot offer the most of it, as you should also know HOW, WHEN, WHY and HOW MUCH.
This means a good information background on its exact action prior to its use. Its capabilities, the way it works and what it offers and how it could offer greater benefits.
Below is the basic information on protein, along with reasons justifying its use for every professional athlete.
Protein: What it is and what it offers
Protein, a word originating from the Greek verb “come first”, expressing superiority, meaning I am first, I am the best.
Since ancient Greece, warriors used red meat to improve their physical strength, stimulate their fighting ability, uplift their morale and improve their focus on the target.
Proteins, being compounds made up mainly of carbon, proteins, if broken down, give smaller compounds known as amino acids.
Body creates certain amino acids, while others could not be produced by organism, being received via the diet.
Some amino acids contain protein while others are and non-protein compounds. Protein amino acids create the chemical elements called proteins.
It is important to understand how our organism functions, so we could offer to it everything needed for training and general process.
We classify proteins into 3 main categories:
- and protein derivatives
What makes them different is their amino acid content.
For example, a protein containing all essential amino acids (8 in total) is called complete and is the highest quality protein.
Respectively, a protein containing only some of the 8 essential amino acids, is called incomplete and is of lower quality.
Finally, imperfect proteins come into 2 subcategories, the imperfect proteins and those characterized as completely imperfect, with first one being superior to latter.
Protein plays an extremely important role in organism’s general function and not only in the athletic performance of a person.
Basic organic functions – as the digestive process, immune function, muscle growth, bone health, hormonal balance, and cell formation, control of insulin values, proper absorption and utilization of other valuable nutrients by organism – relate to proteins and depend on them.
Vegetable vs Animal Protein
Between these two forms of protein, we consider the latter as superior, belonging to the category of complete proteins.
On the contrary, legumes, rice or nuts – though also provide a significant amount of protein – do not have the same quality, as protein from plant resources (unlike animal resources) does not contain all 8 essential amino acids, so being classified to imperfect proteins.
However, experts recommend consuming a combination of animal and vegetable protein for maximum benefits, as plant-based foods provide a variety of beneficial nutrients to organism (promoting both the general health and athletic performance in particular).
For example, fresh fish with fresh vegetables and 1 slice of whole-meal bread is a very healthy combination of vegetable and animal proteins.
Another example is yogurt with nuts and honey, a very tasty snack with plenty of protein, but also a sweet snack to fight your craving for something sweet.
Whole grains (for example oats) with milk, peas with meat and rice, spaghetti with minced meat and grated cheese, legumes with meat and rice, are just some of the many different options for combining these 2 valuable sources of protein for your benefit.
What’s the amount of protein necessary?
Every organism has its own needs for protein, depending on its physical condition.
According to experts, a person needs about 0.85 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
To avoid confusion, a person needs protein in its diet whether follows an exercise program or not. However, the body’s needs for protein also vary depending on person’s lifestyle, its age and many other factors, which may be explained by a specialist.
A person engaged in a sedentary life (with no physical activity) may not have the same protein needs as a person exercises regularly for increasing its muscle needs.
Furthermore, a person experiencing intense stress in daily life needs a higher protein intake (of plant and animal origin).
A person suffering from depression also has a higher need to boost its protein intake (via nutrition or supplements).
Something not known is that people, using anabolic steroids have a higher need for protein intake, like also people following a weight loss diet or a heavy training program (professional and Olympic Games athletes).
It is not easy to express the organic needs for protein, as the parameters involved are many and various.
As you might have noticed on internet, many weight loss diets are based on protein intake. Some of them are very restrictive (rejecting certain food groups), unlike others adopting protein as a basic building block of a meal).
The Paleo Diet and The Atkins Diet are two of the most common and characteristic examples of a diet involving protein intake as a basic rule.
In these cases, however, the person usually ends up consuming a much larger amount of protein than needed.
What happens in this case is that over-consumption of protein can lead to malfunctions and problems in organism.
Organism will give us signs of a wrong function, as long as we understand them and interpret them correctly to reduce the amount of protein intake via meals or dietary supplements.
A number of those “signs” produced by organism, when oversaturated with protein are:
- increased and unjustified nervousness
- bad mood
- unnecessary weight gain
- bad breath (due to natural process called ketosis)
- difficulty in concentrating
- mental fatigue
- kidney damage
- cardiovascular diseases
Protein Powders – Types
In the market, many different types of protein in powder form are available, as their easy use and safe calculation of final intake makes protein powders a friendly tool for any athlete requiring quick organic stimulation and muscle strengthening.
The main types of protein powder available are:
- casein protein
- whey protein
- soy protein
- pea protein
- rice protein
- and cannabis protein
Best time to use protein powders for maximum benefits
No reasonable answer on this question is possible. Depending on the person, protein intake differs depending on its schedule (time of getting up, having a meal, its exercise and sleep schedule) and on its physical condition and goals.
Per example, a person aiming at adipose tissue loss will think differently than a person aiming primarily at muscle mass.
Usually, however, people following a training program to strengthen muscle mass consume their protein shake about 20-30 minutes after their training session, offering to exhausted muscles the “food” needed, assisting on their heal and strength.
On the other hand, people trying to control their body weight tend to consume protein shake between their main meals, helping them to control the appetite effectively and reducing the calories consumed.