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Guide to Using Protein Powder

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Anyone who is into fitness, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, has seen guys and girls at the gym with protein shakers. If it’s your first time seeing it, you look up what it is and find hundreds, probably thousands, of articles telling you why you need to use protein. You get a package at your local fitness supplement store and get cracking. Soon you want to get into the finer points of the powder, but there’s so much information out there! Here we’ll let you in on the top tips you need to know about one of the fitness world’s most popular supplements.

Why do I need protein powder?

This supplement is really a substitute for protein you get through food. Sometimes it isn’t cost effective, and can be time-consuming, to eat that much protein through whole food. These whole foods include meat, fish, eggs, legumes, soy, and poultry. Many of us supplement our diet with protein powder in order to get the necessary amount of protein in daily to see muscle gains.

This powder assists in muscle recovery as well. When you workout, your muscles go into repair mode. To improve recovery, extra protein can help out. Protein can also help boost metabolism. When you eat the proper amount of protein it can cause your body to use up fat reserves.

Does it work?

One easy way to know that protein powder works is to see the amount of people using it at the gym. But don’t just trust them, protein powder is beneficial for a few reasons. Protein powder made of natural ingredients is a great source for those unable to eat enough protein daily. This combined with the optimal amount of exercise and a healthy diet, will produce gains. Try to stay away from powders containing unnatural ingredients.

How much protein powder do I need?

According to WebMD, they suggest the following:

  • Recreation athletes: 0.5-0.75 grams of protein per day per pound of body weight
  • Competitive athletes: 0.6-0.9 grams per pound
  • Athletes building muscle mass: 0.7-0.9 grams per pound
  • Teenage athletes: 0.8-0.9 grams per pound

Vince Del Monte on Bodybuilding.com recommends “at least 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.” While Muscle And Strength says to take 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

There really isn’t a general consensus on the perfect amount of protein needed. So it is really up to you to use the general guidelines above, experiment, and find the right amount for your body. Use your discretion when doling out your protein powder, each day may require a different amount if you want to be precise. Typically you should have your protein powder intake occur before, during, and after a workout.

How often do I need to take protein powder?

Before you workout, you should consumer a fast digesting protein powder like whey. Have it about 30 minutes before you begin to allow for full absorption. After you workout you will want to consume protein immediately to ensure proper muscle recovery and growth.

What are the types of protein powder?

The main three are whey, soy, and casein, although there are quite a few others like beef and egg which aren’t as popular.

Soy Protein

Many in the bodybuilding world find soy protein to be the least desirable of the three protein powder types. It is fast digesting but is not as efficient as the other options.

Casein Protein

Casein is about 80% of the protein present in milk. It is slow digesting and can have a very thick taste. It’s not recommended to use casein before, during, or after workouts because of this slow digestion process. If you do want to use casein, it may be best to drink before you go to sleep, so it can absorb through the night.

Whey Protein

Whey is the other 20% of the protein in milk. This is probably the most popular protein powder type out there. Whey is rich in a few key amino acids that are critical to building muscle: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It can be digested very quickly so it is recommended to drink before, during, and after workouts.

What’s the difference between whey protein and whey isolate?

Whey isolate is generally more expensive because it is more pure and has a higher biological value. Isolates may have 90-98% protein while other options have about 70-85% protein. But just because it is more pure, whey isolate isn’t necessarily going to lead to bigger muscle gains.

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