Fitnessentials

Teaching you the essentials of fitness and weight loss

Protein Supplements (that actually taste good!) – A beginner’s guide

We all know that bodybuilders need to eat more protein than the average person in order to be at the top of their game, but what about the average person. Could we all benefit from adding a little bit more protein into our diets?

 

What do protein shakes actually do for us?

 

Protein shakes deliver amino acids to muscle cells which helps them to recover after strenuous workouts. Without adequate protein, training hard will leave your muscles with a deficit of the building blocks they need to recover, which means you’ll struggle to build new muscle fibres. Now, especially if you’re a woman, you may be thinking, “but I don’t want to build muscle as I’ll look bulky”. If you’re not active, then you may be thinking that you don’t need to worry about your protein intake. But what if I was to tell you that, from birth to around 30 years of age, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. This is known as age related sarcopenia. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss. Whilst we all want to look younger, (there’s a huge market for anti-ageing products!), shouldn’t we all be looking to keep our bodies strong and functioning well too?

But isn’t it the same as taking a steroid?

Unlike steroids, which have a hormonal effect on the body, protein supplements are purely nutritional, they do not have a hormonal impact on your body in the way that taking steroids does.

Won’t increasing my protein intake with supplements cause me to get bigger or put on weight though?

Not if you take them correctly and purchase the right type of protein for your goal. Unless you specifically want to bulk up or gain weight, then avoid “mass gainers”. These are typically supplements that are higher in calories and simple carbohydrates, which serve a purpose after a hard workout when the energy in your muscles is low, but for the average person, these are more likely to cause you to gain fat. If you’re looking for a trim, toned, lean and fit looking body then good quality, great tasting protein supplements could be the way forward.

How do I pick one that is good quality?

It is true that not all protein supplements are created equal! By far, the easiest and most cost effective protein to get your hands on is whey protein. Whey is a liquid that is left over from milk once it has been curdled and strained which means that it is a by-product of the cheese-making process. Whey is rapidly digested and absorbed so it gets into your bloodstream and your muscles pretty quickly. This makes it the ideal post-workout choice. There are three main types of whey protein: isolate, hydrolysate, and concentrate. Concentrate is the cheapest option as it contains higher fat and cholesterol levels. In terms of quality, it is of lower quality than the other two types of whey protein. Isolate contains a high level of protein and tends to be lower on allergenics, making it a good option, especially for the lactose intolerant (if you don’t want to take a plant based protein). Hydrolysate is produced in a way that effectively means it has been predigested, so its rate of absorption by the body is super fast. This is the option that most serious athletes tend to choose, so it is generally the most expensive and highest quality option. ON a side note, check the sugar content of your protein powder – I nearly had kittens when I saw the sugar content of one that a client of mine was using!

Can you suggest any good quality, great tasting protein supplements to suit my budget?

I love the TPW™ protein range from THE PROTEIN WORKS™, because they don’t add a load of rubbish into their powders and they cater for everyone, including diabetics, vegans and those with allergies! If you are on a low budget, you might want to try their Whey Protein 80 SF+. This concentrate protein contain no soy whatsoever and is one of the purest whey concentrate proteins around. You can try a 500g flavoured packet for only £9.99 at the moment, and that’s without any discount! (They are offering discounts on a lot of their products at the moment, but I’ll let that be a nice surprise for you!). Personally, I like banana flavoured protein powders but the choc peanut cookie and millionaires shortbread flavours also sound amazing!

If you have a slightly higher budget, you can then afford an even higher quality protein. In this instance, I would opt for the Diet Whey Protein Isolate 90. With amazing flavours such as Butterscotch Ripple, Cherry Bakewell and Jaffa Cake, and all low in fat, lactose and sugar, it’s a no brainer. With only 88kcals per serving, it’s a product that could also be used as a protein rich snack, even for someone on a low calorie diet. 500g would set you back £13.49 if you didn’t use a discount code.

I’m not a fan of shakes, what else can I try when I need a protein boost?

Whilst you can buy nuts and seeds cheaper elsewhere, some of the THE PROTEIN WORKS™ protein snacks and foods are amazing! Mixed grain porridges have become “a thing” – some of the bigger cafe brands have been selling them for years. However, this protein porridge pot is most likely cheaper in the long run (because you don’t get tempted by the £2-something coffee and croissant to go with it!) plus you can make it using the kettle in your office. Which means either more time for your workout, or more time in bed!

And for when it all gets a bit too much? How about a mug cake without the guilt!

So, in summary, as long as you’re not eating more calories than you burn, you could well benefit from adding a protein based treat or two to your diet. With low calorie and low sugar options, it definitely wont hurt!