Supplement Spotlight – Protein
As covered in our Supplement 101 post, whey protein is a great way to supplement your protein intake. As a reminder, most of your protein in your diet should come in the form of whole food sources (lean meats, chicken, fish, etc). Mainly taken as a post workout, whey protein is the preferred type of protein for athletes as it provide a fast digesting source of nutrients for hungry muscles after a workout.
Why take protein?
Regardless if your goals are to muscle gain or lose weight, you want protein in your diet. After a hard workout, having protein intake will certainly help a muscle rebuild and recover faster, but will also help control Cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone (we are stressing our bodies during a workout after all) that is associated with storing excess fat AND muscle loss.
In short, taking a protein supplement immediately after a workout is shown to:
– Aid in recovery of muscles and help combat “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” (see You Might Be Sore)
– Help the growth of lean muscle mass
– Control hormone levels to aid in fat loss
– Reduce hunger pains throughout the day
– Provide extra energy
What is Whey Anyways?
Whey is the liquid component that is separated from the curds when cheese is made. Think of the nursery rhyme about little Miss Moffet. In it’s normal state, Whey is a liquid that contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This liquid is pushed through a filter to retain various components – most importantly the proteins. From there it is dried into a powder and sold as a whey “concentrate”.
Some companies further refine this powder, removing much of the remaining fats and vitamins, into a protein “isolate”. This process increases the protein content, typically anything above 85% protein content is considered isolate. During this process, it can become denatured and lose some of it’s biologic activity. Although this does not affect the overall muscle building qualities of the protein powder, protein concentrate is thought to have some extra health advantages.
Protein concentrate made from pasture fed dairy cows, with no hormones or antibiotics is typically the healthiest in our experience.
Benefits of a grass-fed concentrate protein include:
– Smoother Taste
– Easy Digestibility
– Better support for your immune system, whey protein isolate processing filters out the fat that contains immunoglobulins
– Proper balance of healthy fats (omega 3’s vs omega 6’s), which can lead to healthier joints
You can read more about the advantages to a grass-fed protein here.
When to take it? How much to take?
Whey Protein should be take immediately after a workout (within 45 minutes) for best results. It can be mixed with cold water, milk, or coconut/almond milk. If you cannot work out on an empty stomach, it can also be used as a meal replacement if you workout early in the morning. Weight training athletes need around 1.6 – 1.7 g per kilogram bodyweight per day. Also, only take 20-30g of protein per hour as that is all the body can process at a time. Excess protein will be excreted via the urinary system.
For an in depth discussion of protein powder you can also watch this video.
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