We’ve all heard it before, from doctors, bodybuilders and pro athletes, that protein is essential to a successful diet and exercise regimen. However, this otherwise helpful suggestion opens up a whole new set of questions, like ‘How much protein do I need?’, ‘What kind should I get?’, and ‘What is all this protein stuff doing in my body?’ If building muscle is part of your goal, whether professionally or in your spare time, then read on for the answers.
How much protein do I need?
For those interested in bodybuilding, a general recommendation of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is a basic starting point. Most athletes need slightly less, depending on their sport’s athletic requirements. Protein is necessary to recover, repair and rebuild muscle tissue damaged throughout the training processes. To build additional muscle through strenuous exercise, you need to increase you daily intake of protein in order to satisfy your body’s new needs. In short, the more damage done to a muscle group via exercise, the more protein is required to rebuild them. This cycle also allows muscles to hold more fluid, helping to increase muscle mass and maintain a high efficiency of energy usage.
What kind should I get?
There’s always going to be some debate over the necessity of protein powder versus using whole foods to supply your bodily quota, but the fact of the matter is this: In order to achieve significant muscle growth, you should make use of both. While foods like meat, fish and dairy contain large amounts of protein, it can be difficult to exceed 200 grams daily purely through eating whole foods. This is where the powdered forms of protein shine. They are easily soluble in liquid, come in a variety of flavors, and are ideal for transporting to and from the gym (you rarely see an athlete packing a turkey sandwich in their gym bag). However, the key thing to remember is that these powders are supplements and not substitutions for a healthy diet.
With powdered protein supplements, in regards to the best for muscle building, whey protein tends to get the majority of the vote as it also helps to enhance the immune system via antioxidants. They can range from cost-effective to expensive, depending on the purity and ‘grade’ of the protein, but the general consensus is that if you have an aspiration to build muscle for professional reasons then you should stick with high quality, pro-grade protein. On the other hand, if you desire to build some lean muscle mass to simply increase your health and stamina, there are countless varieties available to suit every budget and dietary need.
What’s all this protein stuff doing in my body?
Proteins break down into amino acids in the digestive tract, where they are stored for essential organ function, cell communication, hormone creation, muscle repair and emergency energy. Most excess is expelled either through urine or via pathways similar to fats and carbohydrates. Excess protein in the body, particularly in powdered form, can be hard to digest if you’re not properly hydrated, so keep up the water intake while using supplements.
Every single body needs protein to function properly, and people who want to build muscle have special protein requirements. These can be met through a healthy combination of whole foods and powdered sources, such as whey protein mix. Together with a doctor-approved training regimen, your muscles will have all the building blocks necessary to achieve substantial, positive growth.