Hey everyone! Hope your week is going great! I don’t know about you but I am ready for this weekend, we have tickets to the Dallas Fan Expo where we will be meeting one of my heroes the great Stan Lee (creator of Marvel Comics). Side note: outside of being a trainer I am the world’s biggest nerd. So, this week I had a new client ask me what protein powder they should purchase, after talking with me about their eating habits I suggested them not to purchase protein powder. The reason I didn’t recommend protein was they are getting their daily protein needs from their food consumption. This got me thinking, how many people are taking protein powder and don’t understand why they are doing it? This inspired me to break down the protein powder supplement to help YOU decide if you need protein powder within your diet.
We have all been guilty of this at one point or another, I bet we have all had our protein shake after our workout with the thought of losing ‘gains” if we didn’t consume it fast enough. So, what exactly does protein powder do? Well protein powder is simple, it is a convenient way to give your body mass amounts of protein at once. Protein is the biggest component when building muscle, it is used to build and repair broken down tissues, this is important due to exercise breaking down our muscles, the body then repairs them and this is what causes us to develop bigger, stronger muscles. Protein is also a building block of hormones, bones, cartilage, and skin. So, we can safely say protein is a necessity within our diet.
We know we need protein, so how much truth is there in needing protein immediately after your workout? Very little; yes the body needs protein to help recover but what it actually needs after an exercise is carbohydrates. Carbs are what the body runs on! They are our primary source of fuel, during any type of training session our body uses our carbohydrates to run (much like a car with gasoline). When we run our car on empty we can no longer drive without risking damaging the engine, the body is the same way except instead of gasoline we use carbs. Studies suggest after exercise our body needs a 5-1 ratio of carbs to protein. That 20 grams of protein shake you just took in, the body needs 100 grams of carbs to get its proper carb to protein post workout ratio.
Many people consume protein powder to help hit their daily protein needs, what many people don’t know (I was there too) is how much protein do they actually need.
Now that we know the recommended daily protein needs lets figure yours out! First, find your category out of the four recommendations. Next calculate your weight in kilograms since these recommendations are measured in this unit. Remember a kilogram is equivalent to 2.2 pounds, therefore a 230-pound man is 104.5 Kilograms. You find this number by dividing your weight by 2.2, next multiply your weight in kilos by the recommended daily values. For myself I consume 1.5 grams per body weight as my training regimen requires it. I then multiply 104.5 by 1.5, my protein goal per day is to consume 156 grams of protein.
Now you have your protein goal for the day, it’s time to figure out if protein shakes are right for you.
For myself I do not consume protein shakes unless I have no access to food-which is rare, my fiancé makes sure I’m always fed. Apparently I’m grumpy when I don’t eat. My reasoning for not consuming protein shakes is simple, I get my daily needs from the foods I eat. On a typical day you should be eating 3 meals and at least 2 snacks. If your 3 big meals have some form of meat you are getting at least 40 grams per meal. 3 chicken breasts are around 126 grams of protein (42 grams per 8oz), along with your meat your sides and snacks throughout the day have protein as well, for example one cup of pinto beans has 41 grams of protein-give or take- for myself with 3 pieces of chicken breast and a cup of pinto beans I have already exceeded my daily protein needs. For this reason, I do not purchase or take protein powders.
Now don’t think I am against protein powder, I do believe it is good in certain circumstances. For people whom do not have much time or forget to eat, I highly recommend buying and taking protein powder. If you have a huge gap between your workout and your next meal, drink a protein shake, it has calories to help fuel your body until meal time. If you eat pretty consistent and close to when your workout ends then there is no need to purchase expensive powders, your food has more than enough protein to reach your daily needs.
If you find you do need to take a protein supplement I recommend taking whey protein as it is a complete protein (has all 9 of the necessary amino acids required for a healthy diet). If you don’t have specific goals such as needing a high calorie powder then a generic cheap brand will do the trick, protein is protein. For the most part you will get the same benefits out of the cheaper more cost-efficient protein powder as its more expensive counterpart.
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