There are literally hundreds of different protein powders out there. This can make things very confusing to the novice bodybuilder. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve compiled the top three things you need to know in order to choose protein supplements that are right for you.
#1 Protein Supplements are Not Necessarily Necessary
The average Joe can get all of the protein he needs from his diet. However, if you’re looking to build up some muscle, you may need a substantial amount of extra protein to reach your goals. Extra protein will help you repair muscle, build new muscle and speed recovery. You could add extra protein to your diet by eating more lean meats, eggs, dairy products and beans, but this would require extra time, preparation and money. Protein powders can be prepared quickly, cost little relative to food, and get the job done... but they’re not an absolute must.
#2 Protein Powders are Not All Alike
There are four main types of protein powders. Here’s how they break down:
Whey powders are made from whey, which is the liquid left over when milk solids, or curds, are separated out of milk (imagine the leftover liquid in a container of cottage cheese). Whey powder absorbs quickly into your body, so it’s ideal for a quick shot of protein gearing up for a workout, and for recovery after a workout.
Casein powders are made from milk solids. Casein is not quickly digested, and casein powders works best as a meal replacement.
Soya powders come from soybeans. This is a vegetarian/ vegan option, and a good option for people who have a milk allergy or intolerance.
As the name suggests, powder blends are a mixture of different proteins. Like casein powders, blends are best for meal replacements.
Additives and Fillers
To make protein powders more appealing, many companies add sweeteners and other fillers. Some add sugar, which can impair your muscle growth and add fat if consumed in excess. Others add artificial sweeteners, some of which can cause digestive problems. The most healthful protein powders are those that are pure protein, contain high numbers of amino acids, and contain no fillers. You can dress up the flavor of your protein shakes using coconut milk or fresh or frozen fruits.
#3 Different Guys Need Different Amounts
To determine the amount of protein powder you need each day, subtract the number of grams you’re getting daily from the foods you eat from the total number of daily grams you need to reach your goals. This is the number of grams you’ll need to supplement. To calculate how many total grams of protein you need each day, you can follow a relatively simple formula. First, calculate your lean body mass by subtracting your body fat from your total weight. To build serious muscle, you’ll need about 1 ½ grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. In other words, if you weighed 180 pounds and had 35 pounds of fat, your lean body mass would be 150 lbs, and you would need 225 grams of protein per day. If you get 100 grams of protein in your diet each day, you’d need to supplement 125 grams of protein daily. You may need as little as 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, depending on your goals.
Finding the right protein supplement is a process. Prepare to experiment with several brands and several types before you get your personal formula just right. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you see an increase in the results you want.