Protein powder comes in several forms; whey protein, pea protein, soy protein and even more besides. But why do people use it? And perhaps more importantly, is protein powder good for you?
Why do people use protein powder anyway?
The average bodybuilder is recommended to eat anything from 180 – 220 grams of protein each day by some nutritionists, (in comparison to around 50 for a normal person). The trouble is, protein is very filling. It kind of makes sense then that bodybuilders should turn to protein powder to supplement their intake.
While protein is essential to building muscle, the truth is that some people are simply consuming too much – and they could be setting themselves up for health issues in later life such as osteoporosis or kidney problems. The government actually recommends consuming no more than twice the recommended daily allowance of protein each day, even if you have a heavy training routine, and encourages us to remember that a healthy, balanced diet is just as important as a protein-rich one.
What is whey protein?
The honest answer to this question is ‘It depends on how you use it’. If you’re vegan and you’re struggling to fit enough protein into your day, it may be a good thing. However, if you eat steak and beans for every meal, there’s a possibility that it’s not so good for you; especially if it’s taking you over double your recommended daily intake of protein.
So is protein powder good for you?
Another hidden issue with protein powder
As you already know, protein is very filling. You’ll also know that in order to gain muscle, you need to eat plenty of calories. Can you see the potential problem developing here?
While protein powder may bring your protein intake up to where you want it to be, it does little for your overall nutrient intake. There’s a reason why a healthy, varied diet is so good for you – and if you’re not eating it, you won’t benefit from all the nutrients it brings. In short, protein shakes can prevent you from taking in all the nutrients you need, simply because you cannot face more nutrient-giving food.
To prevent this becoming an issue, I recommend you focus on food when working towards your daily macros, and if you have every meal for the day planned out, but you find you’re still short on your protein target, then supplement with protein powder. As a general rule of thumb, the more protein you can take from your diet alone to reach your daily targets, the better. Protein shakes should not be relied upon to form the main basis of your daily protein intake, but rather the last minute savior reserved for those days where you just can’t reach the finish line unaided.
What’s the best protein powder for weight loss?
It’s not so much a case of which one is best, but more how you use it.
Again, in theory, protein powder can be good for weight loss. The key here is to see it as a filling meal replacement shake during a cut. If a reduction in calories is what you need, protein powder can help you to achieve that – but be warned, for this to work, you’ll need to continue with the heavy workouts at the same time. Failure to do so will lead to muscle loss – and nobody wants that.
Not only will forcing your body to continue in muscle-building mode help you to avoid muscle wastage, it’ll also ensure your body still has demands placed on it – meaning it has no choice but to take energy from stored fat, increasing your fat burn even further.
Having said all this, you still need to ensure you’re not consuming more than double the RDA of protein when considering the protein, you eat on top of the protein shakes. Of course, calories will also need to be closely monitored – if you’re not burning off more than you’re consuming, you simply won’t lose weight. And remember, protein shakes are not calorie free.
When it comes to choosing the best protein powder for weight loss, simply purchase one which suits your dietary requirements, and buy from a reputable retailer. Read the labels before you buy – a good protein powder will contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Is protein powder good for vegetarians and vegans?
Inevitably, vegetarians and vegans are probably going to find they have a tougher time hitting their protein targets if they’re trying to consume double the RDA. For this reason, it may be helpful for them to supplement with a vegetarian or vegan protein powder to top up their quota. Of course, if they find they’re hitting their protein targets through diet alone, this is perfect. Supplementing with protein powder should be the last resort after food has failed to meet the targets.
If I do supplement with protein powder, does timing matter?
Absolutely. And it’s not just the timing of drinking protein shakes either. Whether you’re consuming your protein through food, shakes, pills or protein bars, you should always make sure there is a good amount of protein intake between 1 – 4 hours after you exercise. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat protein at other times of the day of course, but you should certainly be ensuring you’re consuming something protein-rich at that time of the day. The reason? To ensure you have enough amino acids circulating in your blood at that time, which ensures maximal synthesis can occur.
In laymen’s terms, a good dose of protein is needed in the 4-hour window immediately following exercise to ensure your body has everything it needs to rebuild the muscle you just broke down. If you don’t have this, growth won’t be so great, and it’ll take much longer to recover from your workout.
If protein powder isn’t the best natural supplement for muscle growth, what is?
The truth is, you should be aiming to get your diet on target for muscle growth as much as possible, BUT, if you really want to give your results a boost, there are various natural supplements other than protein powder which you can take.
Disclaimer: Just to be clear, we’d never advise taking any illegal substances to grow muscle. That’s why we created a bodybuilding supplement range which is 100% natural, 100% safe and 100% legal.
The CrazyBulk supplement range covers every goal a bodybuilder could ever have, so whether you’re bulking, cutting, increasing your strength or working on increasing your HGH and Testosterone levels naturally, we have a stack for you.