One of the questions we get most often is “Should I be using a protein powder and if so, which one?” With so many different opinions out there, it’s easy to get confused about what you should do. So I thought I should write a post outlining why someone would use protein powders and what you want to look for when choosing one.
First, let’s start off by saying that nothing will ever be better than real food. A powdered version of anything just isn’t going to replace something whole and natural. Protein powders should not be used as meal replacements. They are considered “supplements” because they supplement your regular diet, not replace it. With that being said, protein powders can serve a purpose when real food is not available or you’re looking for a quick source of calories post workout.
Following your workouts, your body is primed to intake and use nutrients. This window lasts about 2 hours after your workout, with the most effective time being as soon as the workout has ended and the effectiveness decreases over time. By ingesting an easily digestible source of protein during this time, our muscles are ready to intake those nutrients and use them to recover from the workout. As opposed to storing them as fat. This is where protein powders can serve a useful purpose.
For those who are new to exercise and experiencing soreness following their workouts, having a quick source of protein after a workout can help with muscle recovery by reducing the intensity and duration of the soreness. Muscle gets broken down during a workout and this is what leads to post exercise muscle soreness. Supplying a muscle with protein immediately following a workout, can help it to rebuild faster and therefore reduce the time that it is sore.
For those who are looking to increase muscle size, ingesting protein following a workout can also be helpful. Again, post workout the muscle is in a broken down state and ready to be built up, bigger and better. By supplying the muscle with enough protein during this time, we aid in its building process, allowing it to gain even greater size. Coupling the protein with a source of carbohydrates, will aid this process even further. Often with protein shakes, fruit such as a banana, is a popular choice.
It’s important to remember that in order to gain appreciable size, one needs to do more than just ingest extra protein following a workout. Plenty of calories need to be ingested throughout the day as well. So for those not looking to gain size, solely having protein after a workout will lead to significant gains in mass. However, adding a source of carbohydrates with it along with an increase in calories throughout the day, will help to gain muscle size.
Finally, let’s address digestibility. It is very important that you are able to properly digest the form of protein you are having. This is where you may need to look at various types of protein powders that are available. Whey, rice protein, yellow pea protein and beef protein are all popular choices. Rice protein and yellow pea protein tend to be more easily digestible, while whey and beef tend to be more effective in helping muscle recover. You may want to try each one individually to see which is the best fit for you.
If you have any more questions regarding protein powders, please feel free to ask our nutritionist Coach Carlo and if you’re interested in trying one out. We offer a variety of quality brands of whey, beef and yellow pea protein powders at the front desk.