Getting started in the world of workouts and gym protein powder may be overwhelming. If you have ever been in close quarters with someone that frequents the gym, you may have seen a number of supplements lining their kitchen cupboards.
Names like “Creatine” and “Casein” may be familiar, but what exactly are all of these supplements for, and are they really necessary? In this quick read, we will be investigating this question and laying out exactly why protein powders for the gym are a recipe for success.
How Does Gym Protein Powder Help During A Workout?
In short, gym protein powder and other gym supplements are there to help you shed weight, build muscle, and maintain muscle throughout the process of working out.
There are three macronutrients that really help our bodies while exercising. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Of these three, proteins and protein supplements are the darlings of the workout world.
Recommended levels of daily protein intake for the general population (0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight) are estimated to be sufficient to meet the needs of nearly all healthy adults.
Very few studies have investigated the effects of prolonged protein supplementation on endurance exercise performance. A review conducted by the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that protein supplementation in the presence of adequate carbohydrate intake does not appear to improve endurance performance, but may reduce markers of muscle damage and feelings of soreness.
On the other hand, individuals who engage in high-intensity resistance training may benefit from increased protein consumption to optimise muscle protein synthesis required for muscle recovery and growth.
The extent to which protein supplementation benefits resistance athletes is highly dependent on a number of factors, including intensity and duration of exercise, individual age, dietary energy intake, and quality of protein intake.
The International Society for Sports Nutrition recommends that for a person engaged in vigorous physical activity to build and maintain muscle mass, their total protein intake per day should be between 1.4 and 2.0 g/kg body weight, per day. This can be taken in the form of protein foods or protein powders.
Different Gym Protein Powders
Protein powders are derived from a variety of sources such as eggs, milk (casein, whey, etc.), and plants (soybeans, peas, hemp, etc.). Some protein powders contain protein from multiple sources. For example, vegan options may include protein from peas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and alfalfa.
They often contain non-protein ingredients such as vitamins and minerals, thickeners, sugar, non-caloric sweeteners and artificial flavours. If you do decide to take a protein powder, it’s important to read the nutritional facts and information label beforehand to know what you’re buying.
Some sources of protein supplements:
Casein and Whey: Casein and whey are proteins found in milk. Approximately 80% of milk protein is casein and the remaining 20% is whey. Casein and whey contain all essential amino acids and are easily absorbed by the body but at different rates. Whey protein is water soluble and rapidly metabolised into amino acids. Casein, on the other hand, is not water-soluble and digests more slowly than whey. When ingested, it forms a solidified gel in the stomach, slowly releasing amino acids into the bloodstream over a period of several hours. ]A study investigating protein supplementation for strength training found that the faster digestion of whey compared to casein may be beneficial for increasing skeletal muscle mass in both young men and trained bodybuilders. Because of its slow absorption rate, casein is hypothesised to promote satiety, especially when taken before fasting periods, and is often touted in health blogs as helpful for weight loss.
Soy Protein: Soy protein powder is made from soybeans and, unlike many plant-based proteins, contains adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. This is a popular alternative to milk protein for vegans and those with dairy intolerances or allergies. Soy protein is not as bioavailable as animal protein, but it is absorbed relatively quickly by the body. In one study, soy protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis significantly more than casein protein when consumed by healthy young men at rest and after leg resistance exercise; It turned out to be inferior to whey protein. A review of studies on dairy- and soy-based protein supplementation also found whey protein to be superior to soy protein in supporting muscle protein synthesis in young and older adults.
Pea Protein: Pea protein powder is made from yellow split peas and may be an option for vegans and those with allergies or sensitivities to soy or dairy. Pea protein is rich in 8 of the 9 essential amino acids. Although low in methionine, pea protein is a convenient alternative protein powder for many gym goers. Methionine is also available from other food sources like rice and can be paired up with pea protein intake.
Hemp Protein: Hemp protein powder is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. There are few studies on using hemp protein powder as a training supplement, but it contains omega-3 fatty acids and many essential amino acids. However, it is not a complete protein as it contains relatively little lysine and leucine.
Did You Know? Although you may not think of it as a “supplement,” a number of pro athletes have begun to promote chocolate milk as an ideal post-workout beverage due to its combination of protein, carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes
A review of the effects of chocolate milk on post-exercise recovery found that chocolate milk provided similar or superior results compared to water or other sports drinks, while another review found that low-fat chocolate milk was an effective supplement to spur protein synthesis and glycogen regeneration.
However, the authors noted that evidence is limited and high-quality clinical trials with larger sample sizes are warranted. Many studies of chocolate milk as a post-workout supplement are sponsored by the dairy industry, which may introduce bias.
Chocolate milk generally contains high amounts of added sugars and saturated fat and is likely most useful for athletes conducting high-intensity exercise for multiple hours a day, such as professional swimmers competing in the Olympics.
Studies On The Impact Of Gym Protein Powder
Titled “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”, this study focuses on whether adults who take gym protein powder or protein supplements are able to gain muscle faster than those who do not.
Those who participated in the study were healthy adults between 18 and 50 years of age. The study monitored those who had been given protein supplements alone or in combination with a carbohydrate, in comparison to those who were not.
“For untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power,” the results of the study read.
In discussing limitations, the study noted that many previous studies on the same topic have recruited “untrained participants”. Since skeletal muscle responses to exercise and protein supplementation differ between trained and untrained individuals, most findings are not easily generalised for all consumers who may be considering the use of protein supplements.
The researchers, however, concluded that consuming gym protein powder has shown evidence that confirms they help with the building and retention of muscle mass during workouts.
Another study, this one titled “Effects of whey protein supplements on metabolism: evidence from human intervention studies”, was conducted to investigate how the ingestion of whey protein impacts the body’s metabolic function.
“We identified 25 recently published intervention trials examining chronic and/or acute effects of whey protein supplementation on lipid and glucose metabolism, blood pressure, vascular function and on the musculoskeletal system. Whey protein appears to have a blood glucose and/or insulin lowering effect partly mediated by incretins. In addition, whey protein may increase muscle protein synthesis. In contrast, there are no clear-cut effects shown on blood lipids and lipoproteins, blood pressure and vascular function. For bone metabolism the data are scarce,” the study found.
In summary, researchers concluded that whey protein can affect glucose metabolism and muscle protein synthesis. However, the evidence for clinical efficacy was not strong enough to make final recommendations with respect to a specific dose and the duration of supplementation.
The Key Benefits Of Gym Protein Powder
Weight Control: Eating high-protein foods and taking supplements can help you feel fuller for longer. Feeling full can help you eat less and snack less often, helping you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight when needed. It also helps lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Muscle Building: Protein is essential for muscle growth. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts consume protein shakes to bulk up after strength training.
Post-Workout Recovery: Protein not only contributes to muscle growth, but it also helps repair damaged muscles and tissues. Therefore, athletes can use protein powders to speed up recovery from post-workout muscle soreness.
Many studies have reported that taking gym protein powder supplements after training can reduce muscle damage and aid recovery by improving muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis.
Where To Buy Gym Protein Powder
At Prime Growth Nutrition, we meet all of your gym protein powder and supplement needs. We offer a variety of protein powders for you to choose from, including diet-centred protein powders and collagen-infused protein powders to accommodate every fitness enthusiast.
All the gym protein powders on our official website are supplied by trusted producers. Every product that we offer is accredited and undergoes stringent checking to ensure they are of the finest quality.
Check out our official website and social media pages to learn more about the gym protein powder brands we stock.