The Purpose of Supplements
What I first tell anyone when asked about supplements is manage your expectations. Supplements are not going to transform your body by themselves. They are meant to ''supplement'' your diet and training. With that being said, there is certainly a place for supplements and there is no question you can benefit from them.
Who Are Supplements For?
Supplements can be used by anyone. Each person is different on which ones they should take and/or need but every person can benefit from supplements, what it comes down to is understanding how each one works and understanding which ones you personally can benefit from. Also, it is for individuals having trouble reaching their nutrient requirements.
So let's get to it and break down the protein supplement options.
Mostly everyone understands the premise that protein is crucial for building muscle and strength. Yes, this is true but protein is also a major building block to many aspects of the body. It has impact on the hormonal and metabolic systems. It helps with hair, skin and nails to cellular structure and function, enzyme reactions, transporting oxygen through the bloodstream. Also, when fat and carb storage get to low levels, protein can step in as an energy source.
Protein is an amino acid and each protein has a specific combination of amino acids and that determines how the protein will function. There are two types of amino acids, essential and nonessential. Nonessential proteins are made by the body on its own. Essential amino acids are the ones we consume and are crucial for muscle protein synthesis.
Now, you can of course get your protein from foods like meats, dairy, vegetables, eggs etc. and yes you should try to get your requirements through food sources, but often it is tough. This is where supplementation comes in.
How Much Protein Should You Consume?
Surprisingly, a lot of people do not get close to the amount of protein they need. Even if you live a pretty sedentary life you should be consuming around 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you are a performance athlete and very active you should be consuming no less than 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per pound for optimal results and recovery.
Studies On Protein Supplementation
Ingestion of protein with carbohydrate has been reported to increase insulin and/or growth hormone levels to a greater degree than ingestion of carbohydrate alone (Chandleret al., 1994; Zawadzki et al.,1992). Consequently, ingesting protein and carbohydrate prior to exercise may serve as an anti-catabolic nutritional strategy(Carli et al., 1992). Further, ingesting carbohydrate and protein following exercise may promote a more anabolic hormonal profile, glycogen re-synthesis, and/or hasten recovery from intense exercise (Roy andTarnopolsky, 1998; Roy et al., 1997).Over time these alterations may allow an athlete to tolerate training to a greater degree and/or promote greater training adaptations.
What Type of Protein Should I Get?
With all the research and testimonials, there is no question protein supplementation can benefit you. Especially, if you're not hitting your daily requirements other wise. Now the question is which one do you choose? With all the different variations of protein supplements as well as all the different brands out there it can get confusing. That is why I am explaining each variation of protein and it's purpose as well as the ones I personally recommend and where to get it.
Probably most common form of protein supplement out there. It contains all forms of the necessary amino acids and it is used as a fast acting protein. Whey protein is best used before or after a workout because it is absorbed quickly by the body, but it also leaves the body quickly as well. Whey protein has the ability to be the best option right before and after grueling activity as it is likely to be the best way to ''spike your protein synthesis.''
Casein protein is similar and different in ways. Casein is like whey and it is mostly formulated through cow milk. Both count for your daily protein requirements and help with performance and recovery. But the biggest thing that differentiates the two is that how they are absorbed by the body. Whey is absorbed quickly and leaves your body the quickest while casein absorbs more slowly and stays running in the body longer. Casein is perfect for in the morning and right before bed because it can stay in the body and work longer. It also helps stop the breakdown of amino acids already available in the muscle as well as having very high values of calcium to help with keeping your bones healthy.
Soy protein supplements were one of the first proteins available on the market. Now there are multiple different options. Soy protein is a good option for vegetarians and people who don't want to include any dairy in their diet. It has fast absorption, it is good for cholesterol and is still the best option for people with diet restrictions. Although, if you are looking for the best option casein and whey have it beat because the amino acid profile is lacking in soy protein as well as not being as pure and having higher fats and carbs in it than casein. But again, if you are against dairy products and/or vegetarian this is your best option.
Egg White Protein
Egg white protein is an underrated protein supplement. It does not get as much of the hype as some of the other protein supplements, often because it is very high quality and less mass produced. It has a complete amino acid profile and is the perfect option for individuals with lactose issues. It also has nearly no carbs or dietary fats which makes it a great supplement for people on very strict diets. Another great thing about this supplement is that it is very mixable and can mix with many things. Go ahead and get creative with it!
Not very commonly mentioned and not the best for enhancing physical performance. It is still a good alternative for vegetarians and no lactose individuals. It is good for your health as it is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which can help lower your blood pressure, build strong bones and increase brain function. Not a bad supplement to experiment with if you are curious.
Summing It All Up
Protein is crucial for your health and performance. As mentioned before you do not need supplements, if you are getting all your requirements from food then keep going and doing that. But, the harsh reality is that most of us are getting nowhere close to getting the amount of protein we need and are leaving benefits on the table. This is when supplementation can help make it easier to consistently hit your requirements to perform optimally.
Chandler RM,Byrne HK, Patterson JG et al (1994). Dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after weight-training exercise. Journal of AppliedPhysiology 76, 839-45
ZawadzkiKM, Yaspelkis BB, Ivy JL (1992). Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 72, 1854-9
Carli G, BonifaziM, Lodi L et al (1992). Changes in exercise-induced hormone response to branched chain amino acid administration. European Journal ofApplied Physiology 64, 272-7
Roy BD,Tarnopolsky MA (1998). Influence of differing macronutrient intakes on muscle glycogen re synthesis after resistance exercise. Journal ofApplied Physiology 84, 890-96
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