We’re not sure whether it’s due to the popularity of sports and sports entertainment such as pro wrestling and MMA, or perhaps thanks to muscle-bound action movie stars such as The Rock, Vin Diesel, Hugh Jackman, or even the king of them all, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in his late 60’s, is still in fantastic shape with a set of bicep peaks that you could ski down, but whatever it is, muscle appears to once again be cool. A few years ago, being stick thin was considered the “in” look, and if you want evidence of that, just look at skinny jeans, and the fact that most jeans and bottoms only went up to a 34 inch waist, at the absolute most. Male fashion and catalogue models had pencil legs, spaghetti arms, and flat chests that would look more at home on a pigeon. These days however, things are changing as muscle is becoming more mainstream, and the malnourished, underweight, wannabe rock star look appears to be on its way out. If you’re looking to bulk up and build muscle, you’ve probably already thought about purchasing a protein powder supplement. However, before you rush into making any purchases, here’s a look at a few things you should know before you purchase any protein powders.
Not all proteins are the same
One of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when looking for protein supplements, is seeing the word ‘Protein’ and simply purchasing whatever it is they’re looking at, despite not knowing what type of protein it is. There are many different forms of protein powder supplement currently on the market, with each one of them working in a very different way to the last. As far as popular protein powders go, whey protein concentrate is king. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the different protein powder supplements, and what it is that makes them so different:
Whey protein concentrate – Whey protein comes from cow’s milk, and is a fast-absorbing protein that is perfect for people looking to build muscle quickly. As it is from concentrate, it is around 75 – 85% protein, with the remaining 15 – 25% being made up of carbohydrates and fat. It is one of the more affordable protein supplements and is perfect for anybody just getting serious about sports supplementation.
Whey protein isolate – Whey protein isolate is very similar to whey protein concentrate, expect for the fact that it has undergone additional filtration and processing, and so it has a much purer protein content, generally around 90 – 95%. For this reason, it’s more expensive though for anybody serious about their training, their diet, and their supplement routine, it could prove highly beneficial.
Casein protein – Casein protein also comes from milk, although unlike whey protein, it is not a fast absorbing protein, it is a slow absorbing protein, which is why it is best consumed either late at night before bed, or at times where you know you will be going more than a couple of hours without any food/supplements. Purchasing casein protein and drinking a casein protein as a post-workout supplement simply is not how the protein is supposed to be used, so using it in this manner would be a waste of money. Consume it before bed however, and you’re onto a winner.
Soy protein – Soy protein is ideal for vegans and vegetarians, or people that cannot consume dairy, and it is derived from natural soya beans. Soy protein is not as potent or effective as whey protein, but still boasts a pretty high protein count so vegans and vegetarians can still benefit from it. However, it has been found to promote estrogen production, which can harm muscle growth and can lead to fat gain so be wary.
Protein will not make you big by itself
If you’re hoping to be able to drink a protein shake a day and suddenly wake up muscle bound one day then you’re in for a very rude awakening. Protein powders will not make you big by themselves, they’re called supplements for a reason, because they’re designed to be supplemented with a healthy diet and effective training program. If you simply go to the gym when you feel like it, and eat what you like, whenever you like, save your money because a protein supplement powder will do very little for you. If however, you follow an effective weekly training program, you have a smart, healthy, and balanced diet and nutritional plan in order, then you will benefit from protein supplementation.
Not all protein powders are that great
As with most things in life, with protein supplements there are great ones, good ones, and ones that aren’t so good. None of us want to spend more than we have to, but if you’re shopping for protein supplements and you simply purchase the cheapest product you can find, chances are that that product will be inferior and not of the best quality. Some companies bulk their proteins out with cheap flours or cheap amino acids which are more cost-effective for them, this is known as amino acid spiking. They may claim their protein is 85% pure, when in actual fact, a lab test would reveal it to be more like 65% pure. You don’t necessarily have to purchase the most expensive protein possible, but look for proteins from trusted suppliers with good reputations in the health and fitness community.
Don’t expect mind-blowing results
If you train regularly and eat well, as mentioned using a protein supplement will indeed help yield better results. However, don’t expect for these results to be staggering or mind-blowing because they simply won’t be. Using a protein supplement will help feed your muscles, will help you meet daily macro requirements, and will help assist with the growth and repair of muscle tissue following a workout, but even so, the results won’t be staggering and in truth, you yourself may hardly notice a difference unless you track your progress with photos etc. Protein supplements will help you to build lean muscle, and metabolise fat, and possibly increase your strength, but they won’t completely transform your physique entirely, because truthfully, unless you were to use certain “chemical enhancers” those types of results are simply not possible, no matter how disciplined you are.