Want to lose weight? Have a protein shake. Want to gain muscle? Have a protein shake. You’re so busy, you don’t know what to eat? Have a protein shake… What is the real deal about protein anyway? It all sounds simple… Let me tell you, there are lots to learn! I’m sure pro-bodybuilders are still learning new things everyday. Building muscle and getting in shape is a constant learning experience, though as you’re probably aware, protein does indeed play a key role in getting muscular and getting those gains.
I put together some information that will help you understand more about protein.
What Is protein and why is it so good for you?
Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can also serve as a fuel source. Protein isn’t just for those people who want to gain muscle or strength…
Protein is one of three macronutrients, the other two being fats and carbohydrates. These three things are incredibly important for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, and cellular health and function. We humans are basically comprised of billions upon billions of microscopic cells, so it therefore makes sense that we should look after the cells that basically make up our bodies. Protein helps balance PH levels, it provides energy, it helps to build and maintain muscle tissue, helps boost immunity, keeps major organs functioning correctly etc.
Protein is great for everyone!!
Protein for fat loss
You still need to put in the work!! Protein can help with fat loss.
Meeting your protein requirements in your diet is really important when you increase your activity level through exercise. Not only does it help your body build and maintain muscle mass, it may help to facilitate weight loss, and can increase your feelings of fullness. So, while you may associate a protein shake primarily with getting bigger, it can be just as important when weight loss is the goal!
Protein for building muscle
Have you ever seen bodybuilders downing a protein shake and eating so much that you can’t even see the plate? A plate filled with chicken, turkey, steak, and other high proteins foods? They don’t consume all of these foods and supplements because they love the taste. They consume them because protein is crucial for the body. I keep my prep for chicken really simple, adding maybe 3 spices with some olive oil… Ya, it’s not that tasty.. but it needs to get down.
The human body needs a certain amount of protein each day to maintain itself in its current state. If you don’t get enough daily protein the body becomes confused. If you don’t have enough protein, your body will begin to lack energy and lack nutrients which will result in it eating away at muscle tissue to help make up for this deficit.
It can also result in hormonal imbalances. This is why you see people trying to gain muscle consuming lots of protein. We want to be in a state where our bodies are building muscle instead of breaking it down.
Protein and muscle recovery
When working out hard, you’re actually breaking down muscle tissue. Not only are you tired after a hard workout, but your body at times gets very sore… especially after a crazy leg day. My hamstrings are always brutal! When we exercise, glycogen levels in our muscle cells diminish, and tiny muscle tissues and fibres become damaged and destroyed. We build our muscles when we rest, as our bodies repair them and deliberately rebuild them bigger and stronger through numerous processes, including protein synthesis. Protein is mainly known for its role in the repair, maintenance, and growth of body tissues.
How much protein do you need?
Answers are all over the places for every single person. If you’re looking to build muscle, experts recommend around 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. I have a Macro Calculator here that you will find helpful. You fill in some information and it roughly gives you a number of calories to eat for the day, along with how much protein, fat, and carbs to eat per day. I play around with my numbers and figure it out as I go. It’s fun for me! 🙂
Supplements or whole foods?
Whole food protein sources are obviously better than supplements. Chicken will always win!!
4oz of a chicken breast is already around 34.7 grams of protein! 5oz is around 43 grams! Whole foods will always be the answer, however supplements are great for an extra boost! Check out my grocery haul guide. I have listed all my favorite high quality protein food sources you can get at your local grocery store!
What protein powder to choose from?
Protein makes up roughly 80% of muscle mass (once the water is removed). When it comes to protein supplements, the bottom line is that not all proteins are created equal. Let’s get into the different types of protein.
Concentrates: The concentration and processing of protein in powder form can yield different compositions, based on the degree of removal of “non-protein” parts. After the whey is obtained from the milk, it’s “concentrated” by removing the non-protein components. The result is a supplement that’s 75% to 85% pure protein (the remaining components being carbohydrates and fats).
This protein powder is also supposedly the most popular kid friendly protein supplement on the market.
Isolates: Whey isolates contain the higher percentage of pure protein and can be pure enough to be virtually lactose, carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol free.
Whey hydrolysate is a supplement that has been partially broken down before you drink it. Your body is able to quickly absorb it to immediately start rebuilding damaged muscle tissue.
Casein is a popular choice for a nighttime protein drink because your body absorbs it slower than whey. Casein is also one of my favorites, it tastes really good in oatmeal with cold milk. It tastes like a mousse!
Pea Protein is a great option for vegetarians and those with allergies to dairy and eggs.
There are a lot of different ones to choose from. Do some research and see what works for you.
- Make sure milk sits well with your body
- Ensure the protein powder has a short ingredient list. (you want mostly protein, not fillers).
- Choose one that has 20 grams or higher of protein per scoop.
- Isolate is more pure, however concentrate can be better for your bank account. It still gets the job done.
- Stick with simple flavours that are good to mix into snacks.
Protein powder can be used in different ways than just the regular shakes.
Try adding a scoop to your:
- Pancake mix
- Overnight oats
- Baked goods
Protein powders are a great way to increase your protein intake for your daily routine. However, eating whole foods are always best, so save the supplements for when you’re on the go or to replenish after tough workouts.
Now that you know everything about protein, check out my article “Understanding Macros.” If you have a goal to lose weight or gain muscle mass you will need to eat a certain amount of “macros”, aka protein, carbs, and fats. Tracking your food is the best way to see how much you’re eating! This article has it all, even a calculator to help you figure out your daily macros!