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Protein Powder – Your Definitive Guide

Whether you’re a casual gym-goer, or a dedicated gym rat, when it comes to building muscle, protein is of course essential. Bodybuilders consume vast amounts of protein each day to help build and repair their muscles after going through a series of strenuous workouts. Even athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts, however, are also now upping their protein and reaping the rewards. Protein is essential for our muscles as it helps initiate protein synthesis, which in turn means that our muscles can repair themselves and be rebuilt even bigger and stronger after a workout. While there is no substitute for wholesome, healthy foods, if your diet is on point you may have considered purchasing protein powder supplements. Protein supplements are synonymous with the world of bodybuilding and with muscle growth in general, but how you find the perfect products? Well, that’s where we come in. Here is your definitive guide to protein powder supplements.

Different protein powder supplements currently available

When it comes to purchasing a protein supplement, you first need to know that not all protein powders are created equal. There are actually a number of different types of protein supplement out there, with each one providing different benefits and behaving very differently once consumed. Here’s a look at a few key examples:

Whey protein concentrate – Whey protein concentrate is the most popular sports supplement in the world, and it has reigned supreme at the top for a very long time. Whey protein concentrate is derived from cow’s milk. An enzyme is added to the milk to cause it to split and separate. On one hand we have the solids, which are called curds, and on the other hand we have the liquids, which is the whey. The liquid whey is then taken, pasteurised, filtered, and processed until it becomes powdered. Flavourings, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients are added to it before it is bottled and sold to people looking to make some serious gains. A good quality whey concentrate should be around 80 – 85% pure protein per serving. The remaining 15 – 20% comes in the form of fats and carbohydrates.

Whey protein isolate – Whey protein isolate is more expensive than concentrate, but it is also superior – hence the difference in price. Whey isolate starts off its life in exactly the same way as concentrate. The main difference is that it undergoes extensive filtration to remove more impurities. Whey isolate is typically anything from 95 – 99% pure protein per serving. The more protein you consume per serving, the more protein your muscles can absorb, and the more muscle you will likely build.

Casein protein – Casein protein also comes from milk, but it is very different to whey protein. Whereas whey protein is a rapid absorbing protein that digests quickly, casein behaves very differently. Casein protein is a slow-release protein that takes far longer to break down and digest. This is why casein is commonly consumed just before bedtime, to ensure that the individual in question has a steady stream of proteins and amino acids in their system as they sleep. This ensures that their bodies have all of the tools and nutrients needed to build and repair muscle tissue, keeping you in an anabolic state as you sleep, and helping to prevent muscle catabolism.

Pea protein – Pea protein is a form of protein that is proving very popular, especially amongst those adhering to a vegan diet. Pea protein is derived from yellow split peas and is also naturally rich in vitamins and minerals. For people that cannot consume dairy, either for ethical reasons or digestive issues such as lactose intolerance, pea protein is a fantastic substitute.

When to use your protein powder

Even though we’ve already mentioned this once, we’re going to do so again because we cannot stress the importance of what we’re about to say. Whether you want to build muscle, tone up, burn fat, or just get a little fitter and healthier, you should never rely solely on protein supplements. Protein supplements are fantastic, but they are no substitute for a healthy and balanced diet. So, with that said, you will probably be wondering when is the best time to use your protein powder. Well, there are a couple of examples that instantly spring to mind:

Post-workout – This is arguably the most important time to drink a protein shake. There’s a lot of science involved here, but we’ll do our best to keep it brief and to the point. After they finish lifting weights, bodybuilders will often consume a whey protein shake, mixed with water. This is because, after lifting weights, your muscles are crying out for protein, amino acids, and other nutrients needed to repair them. Not only that, but your muscle cells have actually temporarily expanded in volume so they can take in more nutrients. As time passes by they reduce in size and go back to normal, which is why bodybuilders chug down a shake as soon as they finish training. The more proteins and nutrients your muscle cells can absorb, the greater the rates of protein synthesis.

Before bed – When we sleep, we are of course not eating anything. Without any food or nutrients, our bodies still think they’re starving, and they look for emergency energy supplies. In an ideal world they’d tap into our body fat reserves, but they don’t. Instead, our bodies start to eat away at muscle tissue as that is easier for them to break down. This is known as muscle catabolism and it is the last thing a bodybuilder wants. A casein protein shake before bed however, helps to prevent muscle catabolism. This is because it is a slow-releasing protein that takes several hours to digest and break down. This basically means that your body has energy as well as proteins, amino acids, and other nutrients needed to build and repair your muscle tissues.