KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
If you are reading this, you are probably a beginner to the whole bodybuilding scene and therefore, simply want to know a few answers. In this FAQ, we strip away all the confusion and hype (and most of the science) and keep it as noob-friendly as possible. Think of it as a no BS protein powder guide!
What is whey protein? Does it contain Steroids? Is it safe? What is the best source? How much protein do I need? We will answer all these and some more common questions about this mighty macro.
Why do we need protein?
Proteins are the building blocks of life. If you paid attention during biology class you'd know that every cell in the human body contains protein and the basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.
You need these supermolecules in your diet to help your body repair cells and build new ones. It is also necessary for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women. Athletes (sportspersons, endurance trainers or bodybuilders) often undergo moderate to vigorous training. During this training, their muscles undergo damage on a microscopic level. The body uses proteins to repair these muscles to be bigger and stronger!
Is a protein supplement really necessary? I am not a bodybuilder, Do I need a protein supplement?
Well, protein supplements are not an absolute requirement for gaining muscle mass. If you have sedentary lifestyle with no exercise then you don't need a protein supplement, but Is this lifestyle healthy for you? The amount of protein you need depends on your goals and the core idea is to combine proper physical training with balanced nutrition.
Another rampant myth is that only people who workout need protein supplements. The fact is, anyone on a protein deficient diet may need it, especially vegetarians. The reason being that fruits, veggies, legumes, grains etc are low in protein as compared to meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Also, plant proteins don't have as many essential amino acids as animal proteins do. Hence, they may need a supplement.
That being said, you are unlikely to meet any person getting 200 grams of protein from cooking food. If your daily protein requirement is greater than 100 grams per day we will suggest a protein powder. Trust us, it will make your life a lot easier.
But how much protein do you need? Read on..
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein you need in your diet depend on your gender, lifestyle, goals and overall calorie needs.
The daily recommended intake of protein for healthy adults is 15% to 30% of your total calorie needs. The lower 15% mark is considered for people with sedentary lifestyle and 30% for extremely active individuals like athletes/bodybuilders with everyone else falling somewhere in the middle. For example, a moderately active adult male, trying to gain muscle mass on a 2500 calorie diet, will need about 150 grams of protein per day. This would supply just short of 25% of his overall calorie needs.
Another way to calculate requirement is by bodyweight. You may need 1 to 3 grams protein per kg of bodyweight depending on various factors. A healthy person weighing 70kg, looking to gain muscle, will need anywhere between 105 to 140 grams per day. With extreme training this requirement may go up to 200 grams per day.
Protein is a macro nutrient so don't worry about being accurate down to the gram. Few grams over or below your intake won't make much of a difference.
Is it true the body can only use 30 grams of protein at once?
This sounds as if there's a small weighing scale inside your belly that tracks protein intake and decides whether to "use" it or not. This is not true. But hold on! It is NOT recommended to eat 100 grams of protein at every meal. Our body will process whatever you feed it, though not always optimally.
Think of it as flicking an On-Off switch. Once you switch on a bulb you can't switch it on 'more' by pressing the switch harder, can you? Same applies to turning on protein synthesis in your body. You can't expect your muscles to recover 'more' in one single meal by eating more protein in that particular meal. Roughly 30 grams of protein per meal across multiple meals can really assist you to boost protein synthesis again and again over the course of a day. This is true for everything and not just protein. You can't eat all the food in one meal and cure hunger for the whole week, right? Well, some animals do that but not us humans. This is why doctors recommend eating 5 small meals throughout the day rather than 2 large meals. This is easier on your digestive system, too!
Remember kids, more isn't always better.
Will more protein help me build muscle faster?
Yes and No.
Yes, You may gain some muscle if you eat more protein provided that you train hard and stay under the 30-35 percent daily limit.
No, You may not gain any extra muscle if you if you go beyond the 30% limit. Why not? Because once you eat enough protein to drive protein synthesis, your body will oxidize extra protein for energy. This means it will cut into your fat and carbohydrate intake. This may be good for losing weight because you will eat less carbs and fat but it may also hinder your goals of gaining muscle mass. Carbs are necessary to provide energy to your muscles which, in turn, is used to pump those extra reps in the gym!
Workout is not rocket science. If you are a beginner, just eat at least 1.5 gram of protein per kg per day. Later, If you think your exercises are perfect, you may vary protein intake in steps of 0.3 grams/kg to see how it affects your results.
Supplement companies suggest much higher levels of protein consumption, up to 2 grams of protein per pound (Upto 4.4g per kg!!) of bodyweight per day. These high levels are used to increase sales and are based on anecdotal evidence, not controlled clinical trials.
Is there anything beyond exercise that increases my protein requirement?
A period of prolonged diet restrictions may increase your need for protein. People under great stress, like folks recovering from sickness or a significant injury, will also need a bump in protein requirement. If your caloric intake is substantially lowered, there is a greater chance that incoming protein will be used as an energy source rather than for muscle-building. On a low-calorie diet, it's even more important that you eat at least 1.5 gram of protein per kg daily just to maintain muscle mass.
Is real food better than a protein shake?
While it's definitely not encouraged to source all your protein from a tub of powder, both protein supplements and whole foods have their place in your diet. Whey protein powder is one of the safest supplements, it is highly convenient, offers immune-boosting benefits, and can be digested rapidly. On the other hand, whole foods provide a spectrum of additional vitamins and important micronutrients, such as zinc, magnesium, and iron.
At Athlor™, we recommend getting most of your daily protein from whole foods and drink 1-3 protein shakes as a supplement to reach your goal. The best times to drink shakes are:
- In the morning
- Immediately post-workout (Don't miss this one!)
- 1 or 2 half-scoop mini-shakes sometime in between meals if your meals are low in protein (Vegetarians)
What is the best source?
A complete protein would be a great source. A complete protein is a protein source that contains adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids (EAAs). These EAAs are "essential" because your body can't make them on its own. Most animal protein sources like egg, milk, fish and meat are complete. These are excellent protein sources because they are extremely bio-available and contain all the muscle-building mortar your body needs!
If we talk supplements, then Whey protein is the best protein source because of safety, rapid digestion and high biological value.
What is Whey Protein?
The protein in cow's milk is 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. Notice the 'water' that is leftover when milk is coagulated during cheese or yogurt production? That is Whey.
It’s a very high quality source of 100% vegetarian and natural protein with a top-notch amino acid profile and high bio-availability, and that helps you hit your overall protein needs in a more convenient, streamlined way.
Whey protein is low in carbs, fat and calories which makes it perfect for dieters. Many use it first thing in the morning, some use it between meals. But its most popular use is as a post-workout drink. The reason Whey is used immediately after workout is because it is rapidly digested. After workout, there is a 60-minute anabolic window in which our muscles crave nutrition and since whey protein is utilized in our bodies in less than 60 minutes, it is the most suitable.
The 3 most common types of whey proteins used in the supplement industry are: Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH).
What is the difference between Whey Concentrate and Whey Isolate?
Let us start by understanding how WPC and WPI are manufactured. Whey Concentrates and Isolates are made from the same regular unprocessed whey. This unprocessed whey is processed to remove most of the fat, carbs and lactose using either "Ion exchange" or "MicroFiltration".
- Ion-Exchange: This is a process where chemicals are used to treat whey ( hydrochloric acid & sodium hyroxide). Ion exchange is used by companies because it is less expensive than microfiltration, but it also denatures—in other words, causes damage to—some of the amino acids. This may reduce calcium absorption and immune boosting functions of whey.
- Microfiltration: This method uses fine specialty filters to strain the protein. The filters are called micro-filters because the size of the holes/pores of the filters is microscopic. This is a physical means of removing the contents from the protein and no chemicals are used.
The result of this step is WPC. This WPC is further filtered using "Ultrafiltration" to produce WPI.
We, at Athlor™, use only the best microfiltered whey to manufacture our products.
WPC is upto 80% protein and has a low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. They have trivial amounts of fat and carbs relative to your overall nutrient intake. This is the best-selling category of whey!
WPI is over 90% protein and has negligible fat and lactose. It is targeted towards professional bodybuilders and fitness models who need to watch virtually every milligram of carbs and fat that goes into their body.
Apart from this, there are no major differences in WPC and WPI and the protein quality in both is identical. WPI however, tends to be much more expensive due to complexity and overhead of the extra step of Ultrafiltration. Isolates can cost upto 3x more than concentrates with protein difference only being 10-12 percent.
Research has shown WPC is more than enough for the bodybuilding needs of most individuals.
What is the primary source in Athlor™ Premium Whey?
Our aim is to provide the best quality nutrition at the best possible price. Hence, Athlor™ premium Whey is made from the best quality Microfiltered Whey Protein. The reason for not including Isolates is the massive manufacturing and sourcing expense without a significant bump in protein percentage. These added costs eventually get forwarded to the consumer.
Learn how some big supplement companies are scamming you.
Whey Protein costs are continually on the rise. Bigger the company, larger is the overhead. Higher staff salaries, hiring fitness models, running ad campaigns etc are just a few overheads. Team this up with the growing competition and you'll notice some big boys are bound to play dirty. There has been a wave of lawsuits in the US against such companies who have been "Amino Spiking" their supplements.
Read more at www.forbes.com . Some of the names are shocking.
What is Amino spiking?
If you've read the 1st question then you know that complete protein is made up of individual amino acids. Spiking is actually the practice of adding high amounts of the cheapest amino acids into the powder so as to chop prices. In lab tests, protein is determined by nitrogen content so these low cost non-essential amino acids also get counted within the total.
This means that you’re not getting a complete protein source when using these products, and it means you’re getting higher amounts of some of the least effective amino acids. The specific amounts may vary from product to product, but some companies are currently spiking as much as half of their total protein content with these low quality amino acids. In other words, you might think you’re getting 30 grams of high quality, complete whey protein in every scoop, when in reality you’re only getting 15 grams along with 15 grams of worthless filler.
How to know if your protein supplement is spiked.
Just scan through the list of ingredients and look for individual amino acids or a mixture of two. Ingredients like Glycine and Taurine should ring alarm bells in your head.
Another tactic companies use is "added Creatine". Creatine is a combination of amino acids and will count towards total protein content in a lab test. It is advertised as if it is an added feature that makes your supplement better, but the fact is that creatine is much cheaper than whey and it is added to cut costs.
Creatine, by itself, is a great muscle building supplement and something that we would recommend for serious bodybuilding enthusiasts, but it has no place in a protein powder and should simply be purchased separately on its own because it has a totally different use.
A vast majority of consumers are totally unaware of this practice, so companies actually play it up by giving fancy names to these amino acids to make it look like they’ve been added for a specific reason. For example, one very popular brand uses the words “NOS Complex” in their ingredient list, which is simply made up of l-arginine and l-taurine. Another fancy name is “Muscle Recovery Matrix” made up of creatine and l-glycine.
This is nothing but pure marketing B.S.
Please Stay safe and Eat healthy.