Are protein powders the whey to go or is it all gym hype?
“I don’t use that whey stuff it’s bad for you.”
While I thought the myth culture surrounding mainstream supplements had died, I still hear this type of comment a lot from gym goers. Some even claim whey can bring about horrific side effects. It doesn’t, but clearly confusion still exists. So, what are the benefits of supplementing with whey powders? What types are there? And when is it best incorporated into an exercise plan? Let’s find out.
What is protein?
Let’s get the science part out of the way sharpish: protein is a macronutrient we consume in our diets daily, and it comes from varying food sources. Proteins are made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, our bodies are able to synthesise the 11 non-essential ones but we need to consume the other 9 essential amino acids through our diet to enable the utilisation of a complete protein.
How important is protein to someone who trains regularly?
Protein is essential to the human body’s functions, full stop; however for an individual who trains regularly it plays a pivotal role in the building of lean tissue, immune function and recovery. The general health guideline for how much protein an individual should consume for recovery and repair is approximately 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight; in some cases for a well-trained person dependant on goal this figure could be considerably different. Remember, a well balanced diet will comprise of all macronutrients of proteins, carbs and fats from quality food sources & supplements for optimum results.
What are protein powders?
As we discussed before, proteins are made up of amino acids. There are now various protein powder supplements on the market, including: whey isolate/concentrate, soy, casein, beef, hemp and pea protein, to name a few. Please note some vegan powders are not complete proteins with the required essential amino acids, so you may have to combine with another powder to enable a complete protein – something like Complete Vegan Blend™ would be ideal.
It can be confusing when choosing a powder to use, but there a few handy tips to live by…
- Whey powders are all complete proteins.
- Soy, Hemp and Pea are vegan friendly (although not complete proteins so may have to be combined).
- Casein powders are slow release proteins, so are best used at times when you’re going to be without a meal for a period of time, or more commonly before bed. Whey protein is in and out of your system within approximately 90 minutes.
- Choose an honest brand that uses quality ingredients.
- Check the nutritional information on packaging for any hidden sugars or fillers per serving.
So, whey or no way?
- Whey protein is a quick digesting and a very high quality source of amino acids.
- Whey improves sports performance, as it reduces cortisol levels in the blood, which are responsible for breaking down muscle tissue.
- It can prove effective to help meet your daily protein requirements, or convenient for when you’re in a rush.
- Whey protein is crucial for post workout recovery and repair.
- Combined with an effective carbohydrate source such as Vitargo® (my personal favourite) after weight training, the amino acids are shuttled even more efficiently into the muscle cell for optimal growth and repair.
- If you struggle with bloating, I recommend Whey Isolate Powder. Due to the filtration process whey isolate is incredibly low in lactose.
In a nutshell, whey powders are a must have for anyone serious about training and recovering effectively. You shouldn’t survive solely on supplements – it’s imperative to maintain a quality diet from solid food sources – however sticking to a good nutritional plan with some supplementation will hugely assist your goals long term. If you’re someone that trains incredibly hard (which in turn increases the stress hormones in your body), with no supplementation and then waits for over an hour to have a solid meal; you’re missing out on a huge recovery and repair window. It’s one that could assist your goals in a big way.
About the Author
Ben Rowe is the Lead Coach at Team Benbo Body Coaching. Team Benbo have over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, sharing their in-depth knowledge around Sports Specific Training, Nutrition, Online Coaching and Competition Preparation.