Whether you’re looking to burn some of that annoying leftover fat or you are anxious to get some serious muscle on, we are sure that the significance of proper protein intake has been pointed out to you once or twice. It often seems that the number of nutritional philosophies equals the number of nutritionists themselves, and with an enormous amount of products on the market – each professing its magical and irreplaceable benefits – finding the right combination and the right product for your diet can be a grueling, confusing task. Luckily for you, we are here to clear your doubts and help you find your way to a healthy, effective diet.
Making out them proteins
Your needs will dictate the choice of your protein supplements, but how to determine which proteins will best suit your needs? First of all, we need to see where they come from. The properties of different proteins are greatly determined by their source. The first thing to look at is the biological value (BV), a number which tells you how well your body absorbs a certain protein, with nitrogen retention as the determining factor. Bodybuilding.about.com gives whey proteins a whopping 104 BV rating, with only egg protein managing to narrowly break the 100 point mark. Far behind them, milk protein sits at 91 BV, and the drop only grows steeper from there, with beef protein at 80, soy protein at 74 and bean protein at a lowly 49.
Let’s take a closer look at whey protein. Even though it is today advertised as a magical cure-all, whey protein is not a miracle potion and should be utilized smartly. Besides providing your body with those amino acids that will have your muscles popping up in no time, whey protein has many other beneficial effects, like reducing stress and lowering cortisol levels, building up your immunity, reducing blood pressure and helping you recover after arduous training. However, don’t go crazy with it! Even though it is hugely beneficial for post-practice recovery, it is not best suited for all-day usage. Your body only needs a certain amount of amino acids in the bloodstream, and going with some “slower burning” protein (like egg) or a combination of the two is more recommendable for daily use.
Types of protein supplements
Before moving on to the types of protein supplements aimed at different objectives (muscle build, weight loss etc.), it is worth mentioning that protein supplements, depending on the amount of concentrated protein and the rate of absorption, mostly come in the shape of hydrolysates, isolates, and concentrates. See here for further reading.
Protein supplements are conveniently marketed for their various uses, and can be roughly divided into several categories: weight gainers, meal replacement powders (MRP), protein powders, protein bars and ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shakes (you can find some examples of protein supplements here). If you’re looking to gain weight you should obviously go with weight gainers or protein bars high on calories. As a substitution for a well balanced meal, MRPs offer a mix of carbs, proteins and fats to help you stay lean. As a supplement for your workout regiment, concentrate protein powders and isolates are probably the best way to go. Of course, you are free to explore and find the blend of protein supplements that helps you achieve your goals.
Now that we’ve hopefully covered all the basics, you are ready to fill your head with knowledge and optimize your body for maximum performance (here are some suggested further reads). Of course, keep in mind that protein supplements are only supplements, and that you should never forget about “regular” food as well.