If you are just starting out in muscle building, you probably know that protein powder should be part of your diet. But you probably have a ton of questions: Why should I use protein powder for muscle building? Will it really help me to gain muscle fast? Is protein powder healthy? How much protein powder do I need? When should I take protein powder? What are the different kinds of protein powder and which is the best?
I put this guide to protein powder together to help the beginner find the answers to these basic questions; this is by no means a complete guide to protein powder. But you will learn all that you need to know to get started using protein powder to supplement your protein intake.
Why protein powder should be part of your nutrition
Well, technically you don’t really need protein powder. You could get all of the protein that you need from your diet, but it’s difficult to get enough protein from regular food. Protein powder just makes it much easier to get the protein you need to build muscle mass.
Protein powder allows you to easily add 25-100 grams of protein to your daily intake. You still want to get most of your protein from lean meats, fish and eggs, but you can get up to 40% of your daily protein in the form of protein powder.
How protein powder helps you gain muscle
After you get through with your weight training workouts, your body needs to repair and build up the muscles that have been damaged. Protein contains the amino acids necessary to build and maintain your muscles. You need extra protein to build muscles, and protein powder helps you to get the extra protein you need.
The healthiness of protein powder depends on the type
The answer to this question is ‘Well, it depends.’ Some protein powders contain artificial sweeteners and other additives that many people consider unhealthy, such as aspartame, saccharine, and artificial colors and flavors.
Also, some protein powders are sweetened with refined sugars such as fructose or sucrose. These sugars are unhealthy and they will tend to hamper your bodybuilding efforts.
It’s best to try to find protein powders that are made with all natural ingredients. A good rule to go by is if you wouldn’t want it in your food, you don’t want it in your protein powder.
How much protein powder you need for muscle gain
Calculating how much protein powder you need is not difficult. You figure out your daily protein requirement and subtract how much you are getting through your normal diet. The result is how much protein you need to supplement your diet.
A good starting point if you are trying to build muscle is to figure about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of lean body mass (your body weight – body fat.) So if you weigh 170 pounds with 20 pounds of fat you have 150 pounds of lean body mass. So you would need 150 to 225 grams of protein per day. So if you are getting only 125 grams of protein from your diet, you need to supplement 25-100 grams of protein with protein powder.
When to take protein powder
The best time to take protein powder is dependent on other factors, such as when your workouts are and when your meals are. Protein shakes are good to take in between meals. Also, it’s good to take your protein powder either before or after your workouts, to give your body access to high quality protein to build and maintain your muscles.
The different kinds of protein powder
Protein powders fall into four different types: whey, casein, soy and protein blends.
Whey protein comes from milk. Whey is digested quickly by the body. Thus it is an excellent choice to consume pre- or post-workout to give your body energy when you need it the most.
Casein protein also comes from milk. However, this type of protein is digested much more slowly by your body. This makes casein a better choice for meal replacement but not as good a choice for a workout boost.
Soy protein is made from soy beans. There is a lot of controversy about the health effects of using soy protein. Soy has been linked to numerous health problems, including food allergies, thyroid disorders and even cancer. However, some experts claim that the health risks of soy have been exaggerated and that soy is just as safe as other forms of protein. I would recommend that you avoid soy protein altogether unless you can’t ingest milk proteins for some reason.
Protein blends are a mixture of different types of protein. These blends contain various combinations of whey, casein, soy and egg proteins.
Protein blends are useful for providing the full spectrum of amino acids. And since different protein types have different rates of absorption, they are more versatile and can be used as meal replacements.
The best protein powder
There are two types of protein powder that you will want to use. For pre- and post- workout protein supplement, you want to choose whey isolate protein powder for fast absorption.
For a meal replacement or protein supplement throughout the day, you should choose a casein protein powder or a protein blend.
The choice of flavor is a choice that you will have to make according to your own particular tastes. Experiment with the different brands and flavors and decide which one you like best. While flavor is not as important as the other factors when deciding on a protein powder, it does make the shake more enjoyable if it tastes good.
I hope you learned a little from this beginner’s guide to protein powder. As a beginning bodybuilder you have a lot to look forward to; watching your body transform over time is one of the greatest thrills to bodybuilding. Protein powder is just one of the tools that you have at your disposal to help you achieve your goals.