Protein is everywhere from powdered shakes, bars, to energy drinks, even the common everyday food brands are making high protein versions of their product like Mars Protein, it has become a multi million dollar industry and part of the 21-century fitness culture. But why the hype and popularity? Are there health risks from taking too much protein? How much is too much? And what is best for building muscle: protein powders Vs a healthy diet high in natural proteins?
How Protein Works
When we digest and absorb protein, it is broken down into its Amino acids, and those amino acids will do two things:
1) Stimulate the muscle to grow.
2) Provide building blocks to be incorporated into the muscle to build new muscle tissue. Athletes or anyone in training require a little more protein, the best way to increase your protein intake is by food not supplement however supplements can be a convenience if you’re not able to increase by food intake.
Can Protein Be Dangerous?
No, but it can be possible for it to affect your kidneys if misused, never exceed the label advised amount of supplement per serving.
Recently the BBC did a study on a young male for six weeks; they replaced his protein supplement intake for food based protein only. His previous protein supplement diet consisted of daily intakes of 60grams of protein powder in the morning and one after his workout at the gym in all he took 120grams of protein powder a day in shakes; he also ate between 4 to 5 meals a day with his protein shakes.
After his six week period of only natural food based proteins, working out in the gym and spreading his meals evenly throughout the day; he gained 1kg of muscle; increasing his lean muscle mass by a kilo. Switching his shakes to a food first approach getting the protein naturally from food instead of shakes, the participant increased his metabolic rate by 100 kilocalories a day.
(The reason behind the hype of a high protein diet is to enhance your metabolic rate burning more calories at rest)
Weight Training and Protein
Weight training at a professional level requires more protein as your body is in demand for it for a faster recovery. While off season bulking try putting as much size on as possible, we suggest your food intake 5000 to 6000 calories a day, 500 to 600 carbs a day and 250 to 300 grams of protein a day.
A lot of food is needed to put the size of muscle on, but the amount of protein required to put the size on isn’t possible to just get from food, supplementation is a requirement.
Supplementing Protein Isn’t All Bad
Supplements can be helpful and do work but you need to use them along side the key foods, the downfall is that many people do use protein supplements as a substitute for food, not a supplement. If you’re taking it too much or not at the right time, you may be wasting your money.
Food is the best source of protein and supplements are a convenient source when used correctly.