Protein Supplements | The ultimate guide

By: Alex Eriksson

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Good nutrition is as important if not more so than the workouts you choose when it comes to building muscle and staying healthy. Whether you are an athlete, bodybuilder, or someone who simply wishes to maintain their physique, it's important to learn about proper nutrition and the benefits associated with adequate protein consumption. 
 

Protein's role in a healthy diet.

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Of the three macronutrients (Carbohydrates, protein, and fat) protein is probably best known for its ability to build, repair and maintain tissues. It does so by enhancing the production of insulin-like growth factor or IGF-1 in the body. IGF-1 is an anabolic hormone that promotes the growth of tissues.

Protein is also responsible for regulating the body’s fluid balance, affecting hormone secretion, aiding in digestion and facilitating muscle contraction. Protein is a key component of every cell in the human body and without it, we would fail to exist.

Unlike carbs and fat, your body does not store protein so it has no reserve to rely on when you're running low. Symptoms of protein deficiency include: poor concentration, lethargy, a slow metabolism, trouble gaining muscle and a low immunity.

Now, while I would never recommend replacing a healthy diet plan with supplements, if you are short on time and regularly struggle to meet your daily protein requirements, supplements could be a quick and easy fix. 

 

      Whey Protein

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      Whey is one of only two protein's found in cow's milk, the other being Casein. 

      Whey is by far the most popular and often considered the most effective for muscle growth and recovery. It is very easily absorbed and utilised by the body, making it the ideal choice first thing in the morning and post workout when your body is most depleted and craving nutrients to fuel muscle growth and recovery.

      If you want a low-cost protein supplement that is both high quality and effective post workout and on the go, look no further than Whey.  

      Myprotein offer a fantastic range of whey protein supplements. 

      Note: If you are lactose intolerant, you should use this supplement sparingly.
       

      Casein Protein

      Casein is also a popular choice for muscle growth and recovery, but unlike Whey protein, Casein is digested and absorbed at a much slower rate.

      Casein stimulates the production of micelles in the stomach. Micelles are gel-like substances that provide amino acids into the bloodstream. This results in a slow but continuous exposure of the muscles to amino acids, decreasing the potential for muscle protein breakdown.

      Because of it’s slow rate of digestion and absorption, casein is recommended before bed to prevent catabolism (Muscle breakdown).  

      Note: If you are lactose intolerant, you should use this supplement sparingly.
       

      Collagen Protein

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      Collagen protein hosts a powerful array of health benefits. Best known for its impressive Anti-ageing properties, it also promotes healthy hair, teeth and nails, reduces joint pains, boosts metabolism, increases muscle mass, improves gut health, protects against cardiovascular decrease and promotes better sleep. 

      Unfortunately as we age, the body's natural production of collagen decreases at a rate of roughly 1% per year. This is where collagen supplements come in handy to restore collagen levels. 

      Note: Collagen is best taken on an empty stomach before bed.
       

      Insect Protein

      Cricket, honeybee, yellow mealworm, Mopane caterpillar, domesticated silkworm and African palm weevil larvae are just some of the insects used to make insect protein powders.  

      Although not widely popular yet, Insect proteins are both more environmentally friendly and pack more protein per gram than any of it's animal sourced protein competitors. 

      Note: not for the squeamish! 
       

      Plant-based Proteins

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      Ideal for vegans who might otherwise struggle to get their recommended daily protein requirements from diet alone. Soy, quinoa, artichoke, alfalfa, flaxseeds, chia seeds and brown rice protein powders are a fantastic and easy way to increase your protein intake. 
       

      The Right Amount

      There is still an on-going debate about the right amount of protein and the answer is very much dependant on your health and fitness goals. If you consume too little, you may struggle to effectively gain and/or maintain muscle mass. Get too much and you risk putting unnecessary strain on your kidneys. 

      So what's the magic number?

      To work it out, take your weight in kilos and Multiply it by 1.2 - 2.5g of protein. As a rule of thumb, try to include a 15-25g serving of protein with every meal (The equivalent of 100g of lean meat, fish or nuts).


      Conclusion

      Protein supplements should never replace real food. However, if you are struggling to get your daily protein requirement, protein supplements are an affordable and highly effective way to easily increase your protein intake to a healthy level.  


      Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. To learn more about Alex, follow him on TwitterPinterest and Facebook