Most of us have been in the gym, when we have heard the distinct rattle of the protein shaker. Not so long ago, it seemed only big muscly men were downing protein shakes post workout. But recently there seems to have been an increase in the average gym goer reaching for a scoop of the good stuff.
So what exactly is protein powder and do you need it?
Why we need protein….
I will go more in depth with a different post, but basically protein is found in our organs, tissue, muscles and hormones. It allows the body to grow, function and develop properly. Protein also works to stabilise blood sugar levels, which means you will feel full after eating and not have cravings as a result of high or low blood sugar.
3 Main Types
Protein comes in 3 main types, whey, soy and casein. The most common being whey, as its a complete protein and dissolves well in water for ease of mixing. Whey comes in another 3 types , concentrate (WPC), isolate (WPI), hydrolysate (WPH). WPI is the purest form and is generally best for people with lactose intolerance’s, as it generally has little to no lactose, but it can be expensive. WPH is good for people with allergies as it is more easily absorbed by the body. Finally, WPC is probably the most common, it is more cost effective and easily found in health and supplement stores.
Why people take protein powder?
There are a variety of reasons why someone may choose to take protein powder.
-Fast Absorption: The best time for the body to absorb protein is straight after a workout, and as food takes longer to break down and be absorbed, a protein shake is a common alternative.
-Muscle Growth: Protein is essential for muscle growth and development. People who are trying to build large amounts of muscle may not be able to eat the amount of food required, to get the amount of protein required for muscle growth.
-Protein Powder is Filling: After a vigorous workout, many people find themselves hungry and reaching for the nearest snack to curb the cravings. However a protein shake post workout can leave you feeling fuller for longer.
So do you need it?
For me, I started taking protein powder about 2 years after I started training, when my workouts became more rigorous and I started to lift heavy weight. I was eating a very clean diet, weight training 5 days a week for about 1.5hrs a day and looking to build muscle mass as I was hoping to compete in a body building comp. Only then did I make the choice to have a protein shake once a day, post workout. For me I take next generation protein because it Australian owned and isn’t full of the nasties some protein powders have (stay tuned for a post about what to look for when buying protein).
Keep in mind that the body can only absorb so much protein and by taking a protein powder, you may simply be wasting money. The average gym goer should be getting enough protein from the foods they eat. It is important to remember that if you decide to take a protein powder, it is not a substitute for solid foods. Protein powder can be used to supplement your protein levels, but the best form of protein is delivered through food.