I have been getting quite a few questions recently regarding Protein Powder from some of my clients and other members of the gym. Do they need to take it? How often? Will it turn them look like Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight? So I just thought that I would do a bit of a quick fire Q&A touching on some of the worries and queries surrounding Protein as a whole and the supplement form.
Why do you put so much emphasis on getting enough Protein in the diet?
Protein is one of the three essential macronutrients which make up our diet alongside Fat and Carbohydrates. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are 9 essential amino acids which the body cant make itself and therefore needs to get from food.
You basically need Protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and build new ones which leads to building leaner and stronger muscles.
It helps preserve lean muscle tissue especially when you are trying to lose fat.
It is great for satiety = it will keep you feeling fuller for longer (key if you are trying to lose weight and are in a calorie deficit!).
High protein diets have been shown to im
prove your mood = great for you and your friends and family!
How much Protein do I actually need?
The amount will vary from person to
person, according to how much they weigh, body type and what there goals are. General guidelines can fall anywhere between 1.8g-3g per kg of bodyweight. So for a 60kg female, somewhere between 108g-180g would be about right. A lot of top researchers also give the simple guideline of 1g per alb of bodyweight, so for the same female around 130g.
I have read in the newspaper that it is dangerous for my liver and kidneys to consume so much protein?
Unless you have something already wrong with your kidneys and liver already in which case you must consult with a doctor first, high protein diets are not going to have a negative effect on your health. The media tends to sensationalise results from certain studies relating to excessive protein consumption (shocker) but the bottom line is there is not enough evidence to show that high protein diets are dangerous, there is much more research to support the benefits of an increased protein consumption in relation to an improved body composition.
Do I need Protein Powder?
No. You can get all of the protein you need in a day from food. However, protein powder is just a convenient and easy way of getting in this essential macronutrient throughout the day.
Will it make me bulky?
No. Certainly not. Protein powder in real terms is just a blended up chicken breast. The breakdown of macronutrients and calories are essentially the same (as long as you choose a whey protein as opposed to a mass gainer for example!). Yes the chicken will have a higher nutritional value in terms of food quality, but once ingested and broken down into amino acids, the body will use both sources in exactly the same way.
When and how often do I need to take it?
Once again, you don’t need to take a protein powder.
It is recommended that you get some form of protein in after you have worked out, but contrary to popular belief you will not ‘lose all of your gainzzz’ if this doesn’t happen within 5 minutes of you leaving the gym floor! There has been a lot of research done and evidence is mixed on how soon you need to consume a post workout meal in order to gain maximal adaptive benefits from your session, consuming an adequate amount of protein was shown to be more important than the actual timing of it. That being said, results point towards getting a protein rich meal in you within 90minutes of finishing your exercise session in order to fully benefit from the training which you have undertaken. (If you want to read more about nutrition and protein timing I highly recommend looking at a couple of papers published by Alan Aragon, Brad Schoenfield and James Krieger, the top nutrition guys in the industry by a long way. I have linked a couple of their studies down below.)
Do you drink protein shakes?
Very rarely. I probably have some form of protein powder every day in my diet, however I much prefer to get my calories from food rather than drink. So you are more likely to find me incorporating some into a protein mug cake, protein ice cream or just adding some to greek yoghurt. I will use protein shakes for convenience though if i know I am not going to be able to access real food or if I have a particularly busy day then I will take some with me simply for convenience.
Which is the best one to get?
I would go with just a regular Whey Protein to start out with. If you check the nutritional value and aim for one which is low in carbohydrates and fat. You want to be looking at about 30g Protein per serving ideally.
A few brands which I recommend:
MyProtein Impact Whey: one of the cheapest brands out there, no fancy packaging or marketing which is why they can charge a bit less than other companies, plus they have tons of flavour options. My favourites at the moment are Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Smooth and Strachietella. (never pay full price for my protein items, there is ALWAYS a discount code floating about somewhere!)
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey: If you have a little bit more money to spend then this product is probably my favourite. Time and time again it comes out top in taste tests and quality control. The extreme milk chocolate is one which I have had before, and recently at Bodypower we tried the new Salted Caramel flavour and it was out of this world!
Do I need to get one targeted at females?
Definitely not. This is just a marketing ploy by companies thinking that by putting the exact same product into a pretty pink tub and will entice more females into buying the product! If you compare two products from the same company, a regular protein powder and one targeted at females; the chances are that the ingredients list will be exactly the same yet the one in the pink packaging will cost you more. Don’t fall for the scam!
You need to consume an adequate amount of protein in your diet.
This should come from a variety of high quality sources.
You do not need to have protein shakes.
Protein shakes are simply there for convenience.
Protein shakes will not make you bulky!
I really hope that you have found this blog post useful and it has answered some questions which you may have had! Let me know if you have any more queries and I will do my best to give you some feedback!
Love Abi xxx
Recommended further reading: