What is protein powder, and should I be using it?

There is a lot of misconceptions around protein supplements but regardless of goal, training frequency, current body fat, gender, a protein powder may be a good addition to you diet.
The most common things I get asked to do with protein powder is how much, when to use it, and what type.

 

Before asking if you need a protein powder you need to know what your current protein intake is and what your protein intake should be in relationship to your goals.

If you don’t know the answer to either of those questions, then working that out would be more beneficial than just buying a protein powder and hoping for the best.

A good protein supplement like whey / egg / casein / milk protein is essentially just a powdered chicken breast which you would use to bridge the gap between current protein intake from whole food and goal intake.

 

So how much protein should you be consuming on a daily basis?
A good starting point is taking your lean body mass in pounds and X it by 1, or in KG and X it by 2. The harder /more frequently you are training you might want to increase this up to 1.5-2g of protein per LB of lean body mass as studies show an improvement in body composition strength and recovery when following a higher protein diet in healthy trained men and woman [1]

If you are on a calorie deficit because you are looking to achieve fat loss or are on a lower carb diet you may want to opt for a higher protein intake. Protein has a greater thermogenic effect of food or TEF meaning it requires slightly more calories to be broken down G for G than carbs which results in a lesser net balance of calories after digestion [2] Protein has also shown to have a higher satiety rate keeping you fuller for longer which may promote fat loss due to the decreased chance of over eating after a meal [3, 4, 5]

When?
There is no right or wrong time to use a protein powder. Utilize it at whatever point during the day you struggle to eat protein from whole food sources. For most people this is breakfast as they don’t have to time to cook a protein source. Consuming protein at breakfast is important as anabolism is at its lowest and catabolism at its highest after an overnight fast [6]

The most common time people use a protein powder is after a workout however if you are going home to a whole food meal with a couple of hours it is NOT essential to get some protein in as soon as you finish training. [7]

What type?
there are hundreds of protein supplements available on the market, so it can be hard to know what one to pick, I like to use a blend of whey egg and casein protein as because of the different digestion rates the will sustain MPS for longer than just whey alone, studies show this is beneficial for body composition [8]

some other things to look out for when picking a protein powder:
independently tested to ensure it meets the label claims?
Informed sport tested to make sure it’s free from banned substances?
Produced from EU grass fed cattle?
Make sure it’s not spiked with extra aminos like glycine or taurine, this increases protein content when tested so it looks better on the label but does not actually provide protein, these amino acids are cheaper, so this is used to save companies money.
I personally use Micro whey by Reflex nutrition.

References:

1: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4617900/

2: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9987837&fileId=S000711451500238X
3: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26545527
4: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23824257
5: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4213385/
6: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7191204
7: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577439/
8: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15570142

Posted in Bulking, Fat Loss, Maintenace.

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