Protein: Ah, the building blocks of muscle. Whether you are on a bulk or a cut, a good protein is always going to be first on your supplement list.
Protein is crucial for cell repair and growth, and can have some of the most noticeable effects in terms of how a product will make you feel. It won’t make you able to compete for the Olympia overnight, but you will notice improved recovery (reduced soreness) if you take it immediately after working out.
Why protein is good for a Cut (Goal is Weight Loss) Protein is especially important while cutting as it will encourage your body to retain the lean muscle tissue. A common misconception is that protein will add bulk, but this certainly isn’t the case: You won’t add bulk unless you are consuming surplus calories.
Why protein is good for a Bulk (Goal is Weight Gain) When bulking, the point is to increase your muscle mass. Muscles are built out of protein, so supplementing extra protein into your diet will help build your muscles more quickly.
Getting started with a protein supplement You will want to start with a basic whey protein and use a single serving post workout at the bare-minimum. Most users will find that the standard serving size of 25-30 grams is adequate and more protein in one serving isn’t better. Your body can only utilize a certain amount in a given time period, so shooting over that amount for a single sitting is overkill.
What protein should I choose? There are many proteins on the market with various uses. There’s whey, casein, egg, and even blended proteins that combine them all! For now, we will cover the basics on what to look for when deciding which protein to buy:
Isolate Vs Concentrate: Does the first ingredient listed contain the word isolate or concentrate? Ideally, you want to choose a product that is primarily an isolate. Isolate is a purer, higher quality protein that will be more easily digested and utilized than the cheaper concentrate version. Remember, it may cost a little more for an isolate product, but is well worth it as you are technically getting more protein for the money. Isolate = Ideal. Concentrate = Cheaper Compromise.
Start basic: When starting out, a basic whey protein will be just fine. Look for one with 25-30 grams of protein per serving. If you are on a cut, also look for 5g or fewer carbohydrates and 2g of fat or less.
When should I take it? Take a single serving about 15 minutes after your workout. You may take your protein with water or milk, but keep in mind that milk will add additional calories to your shake. So if you are on a cut, go with water, bulk go with milk. If you choose to consume it with milk, make sure that it is skim milk because fat will slow digestion.
Also, many of your will be asking: “Should I have a shake after cardio?” This depends on the intensity and duration of the cardio session. Generally it isn’t necessary, but if it is a cardio session following your weight training or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style cardio, then yes, it is advisable to have one at this time.
Popular Choices: Optimum Gold Standard Whey, Allmax Nutrition IsoFlex, Dymatize Elite Whey Isolate, BioNutritional Research Group Proto Whey
More advanced protein: Casein/Egg/Meal Replacements/Recovery
Casein protein is a slow-release protein. While it is a little more expensive, it is best used for times when you aren’t likely to have a meal for many hours usually right before bed. Get your post-workout whey protein first, and casein only if you have leftover money.
Egg protein is a more expensive, medium-release but very complete protein. Egg protein is best suited for use between meals.
Meal replacements are protein-rich nutrient shakes designed for individuals who are too busy (or lazy) to eat their allotted meals per day. You should use a maximum of one MRP (Meal Replacement Powder) per day, and be sure to get most of your nutrients through real foods.
Recovery products, or post-workout shakes are typically high-quality whey protein combined with simple carbohydrates and amino acids to help replenish the nutrients in your muscles right after an intense workout. If you want to dish out the extra dough for a little
Popular products include: Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex (Whey, Casein and Egg blend), MHP Dark Matter (Post-Workout Recovery), Met-RX Meal Replacement
Hope this has helped get your head around protein supplements. If you are just starting out, remember to just keep it simple. You can always add more supplements to your stack at a later date. Best thing is to find a favor you like, if you don’t like the favor, you won’t drink it. Second you want a protein that shake clean in a shaker cup.
The proper choices are no way a recommendation by me.
Part 3: Pre-Workout Supplements!
PS: You should be getting most of protein through real food. Keep in mind a protein supplement is only going to help get that last extra bit of protein into your diet.