Beginner's Guide To Protein - IMBOLDN
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It is a common sight at most gyms to see people drinking protein shakes during and after their work out. Protein supplements and weight training are inseparable, as protein supplements are one of the most effective and simplest ways to pump nutrients into your muscle for rapid muscle recovery after you push yourself to the limit. That’s probably why protein is the number one contributor to the rapid growth in the nutritional supplement market, where even a simple Google search result will demonstrate the plethora of new protein supplements that are flooding the market. Then, what are the components that make up protein supplement? Moreover, is it really necessary to consume these products? If so, which product should you choose to optimize muscle growth? Are there any negative side effects we should be cautious about? This article lays it all out so you can make the best informed decision when choosing the right protein for you.

protein supplement

The main component of most protein supplements is whey, a protein that’s found in milk. Generally, there’s about 7.5 grams of protein in a single serving of milk, which is 250 ml. That protein is composed of two types, casein and whey, 80% which is casein and other 20%, whey. In the past, whey was thought of as a useless byproduct of manufacturing cheese and was often thrown out, but research has shown the abundance of nutrients in whey, resulting in what we now see in protein supplements in the form of WPC (Whey Protein Concentrate).

protein supplement

When protein supplements were first introduced to the market using WPC, many were excited about its effectiveness in muscle recovery and growth. However, people that were lactose intolerant quickly and rather painfully found out that WPC reeked havoc on their digestive system, as milk not only contains proteins but also carbohydrates in the form of lactose. To alleviate this issue, manufacturers developed WPI (whey protein isolate) by separating whey from lactose, which soon became the go-to choice for protein supplements. Recently, manufacturers have gone even further, developing a hydrolyzed version of WPI called WPH (whey protein hydrolysate). Although WPC, WPI, and WPH are all protein supplements, they differ in absorption rates. Generally, WPC is the best for people without lactose intolerance and high blood pressure, while WPI and WPH are recommended for people with lactose intolerance and/or are on diet limiting their caloric intake.

protein supplement

Protein supplements also contain other nutrients besides pure protein, so it’s important to check the contents of these supplements by carefully looking at the nutritional label. Generally, supplements are simply made of proteins and several amino acids, but for those who want rapid weight gain or for more effective muscle growth, there are products that contain carbohydrates and small doses of creatine in addition to protein. In other words, if you don’t want to gain weight or your goal is to consume protein only, it is crucial that you check for other contents when choosing your supplement.

If you don't want to gain weight or your goal is to consume protein only, it is crucial that you check for other contents when choosing your supplement.

Another point to consider may be casein content. Until recently, casein’s slower absorption rate in our body was thought to negatively affect rapid muscle growth, compared to WPC, WPI, and WPH. However, with most people leading busier lives these days, the slower absorption rate of casein is gaining more attention with manufacturers producing supplements that contain a combination of whey and casein. It’s a great solution for those that can’t continuously supply their body with whey-based protein. So it’s important to keep in mind that not all protein supplements are the same, as you should consider your lifestyle and workout goals for the best results.

protein supplement

As protein supplements are made from milk, there’s not a whole lot to worry about in terms of harmful side effects, apart from overconsumption. Overconsumption and the resulting incased protein intake may cause issues like osteoporosis, due to the excessive amounts of protein burning calcium in your body. Excessive protein may cause the kidney to convert nitrogen wastes into ammonia, straining the kidney in the process. Moreover, high-protein diets that limit the intake of carbohydrates, such as the Atkins diet, has become a popular way to lose weight, with some only consuming protein shakes as their only “meal”, but without a balanced diet your body will be forced to burn your muscle as an energy source. You have to remember that protein supplements are not miracle drugs and that a healthy diet and workout regime comes first.

Protein supplements can be either good or bad, depending on how people use it. The important thing is to consider which type of protein your body needs and to adhere to a healthy and balanced lifestyle.