Why is protein good for me?
There are many products on the market claiming to assist your training needs, so how do you choose?
The top two questions to ask when considering what products to buy are:
- Do I really need to supplement protein to achieve my goal?
- Is the product of good enough quality to get the desired benefits?
What does protein do?
In every form, protein provides essential amino acids which help the body build and maintain muscle, create red blood cells, improve immune function and repair damaged tissue. Every person requires protein in their diet.
Which foods contain lots of protein?
Common sources of protein include seafood (also low in fat), white meat (poultry), dairy products, eggs and beans. These, as part of a balanced diet, will allow the majority of people the necessary quantities of protein to perform the functions above.
But how much protein is enough?
The common opinion is that a person can absorb between 20-30g of protein per sitting. However, daily intake should be approximately 0.8g protein per kg bodyweight so for a 70kg person, the intake should be around 56g per day. Therefore, by using these figures as an estimate, each individual can work out whether they are ingesting enough protein. In summary, if regular protein intake does not meet these kinds of numbers, then supplementing with protein bars or shakes can be useful in topping up protein.
It is always worth remembering that the best way to get enough protein is through your regular diet!
When should I eat a protein supplement?
In terms of fitness goals, the most likely reason to supplement with protein is if you are trying to improve strength and/or muscle mass. To meet these goals your body will require more protein to rebuild and grow the affected muscles. Therefore, the best time to use these products would be directly after a workout (within an hour), when the body is most in need of the protein source.
Which protein supplement products are the best?
Protein bars and shakes can be easily transported and ingested quickly so are the most convenient. Protein shakes have a quicker absorption into the body as they are in liquid form, they get absorbed into your stomach quicker. It is important to think about the quality of the product i.e., what other ingredients are in it and how much protein. Depending on your goals, you may want to avoid excess amounts of carbohydrates, sugar and high calorie products for example, so it is important to check!