Even if you're relatively new to the world of health and fitness, you probably know the basic formula for success: firstly a regular fitness routine and a secondly a well-rounded, healthy diet. However, that’s where many people’s health and fitness knowledge begins and ends.
What you may not know is that there is a critical component of your diet that you may be missing – whey protein. The absence of a protein supplement can indeed make or break your fitness goals, and make a world of difference in your progress.
Your guide to whey protein
So what is this not-so-secret ingredient? Here’s a hint: It’s not in the amount you’re lifting in the gym, doesn’t involve counting reps or minutes of cardio and is incredibly simple and straightforward. What is it? Protein. Of all the macronutrients needed to achieve your fitness goals, protein is absolutely of one of the most critical.
Here are a few of the most common questions about protein.
Part 1: Why Is Protein Important?
Protein is unique in that it provides benefits to your body that most other nutrients cannot. As the only nutrient that is capable of building muscle, protein is directly connected to your lean muscle mass; which will power up your metabolism and help you burn fat. Your body is incapable of synthesising or creating its own, protein. So it is essential that you consume enough protein. Not only does protein build muscle, but it also acts as a repair agent for the muscle wear and tear that results from regular workouts.
Protein helps you control your appetite, keeping you feeling fuller for longer so you won’t be falling victim to mindless snacking. Plus, with the energy boost you’ll receive from an increased protein intake you’ll be more than ready to spend more time working on your fitness goals rather than couch surfing with junk food. This shift willpower you towards your health goals, giving you everything you need to hit the ground running
Part 2: How Do You Get Enough Protein?
While it is true that there are many foods high in protein, such as meats, eggs, and nuts, it can be challenging to take in enough protein from food sources only. You can only eat so much chicken or hardboiled eggs in a day, and if you limit yourself to these food groups, you may find yourself struggling to find the room in your stomach to consume enough protein.
For this reason, supplementing your healthy diet with a protein supplement is the key. Protein supplements are most often in powder form, generally added to a liquid to create protein shakes and drinks. You’ll be able to get a significant number of grams of protein without overdoing it on volume, and you’ll find yourself hitting your protein goals easily.
Part 3: Who Should Use Protein Supplements?
In the past, many people may have imagined that protein supplements were designed only for the most serious of bodybuilders, those who wanted to build extreme muscle. However, people are beginning to realise that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Protein supplements benefit just about everyone, whether you are undergoing intense athletic training or just trying to make fitness a regular part of your healthy lifestyle.
Protein supplements are excellent for those looking to lose weight since they aid in building your lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is responsible for fueling your metabolism and burning fat, directly correlating to overall weight loss. On the other hand, if you are looking to increase your weight by adding significant muscle, protein supplements are also ideal. Combined with the correctly tailored fitness regime, protein supplements will help you reach your goals, no matter what they may be.
Now that you understand why protein is essential and how you can go about getting enough, you probably have even more questions. At this point in a health and fitness journey, after understanding the critical nature of protein supplements, many people eagerly begin searching for a protein powder they will work for them.
However, that can be an overwhelming journey in and of itself. If you conduct an internet search for “protein powder,” you are going to come across a vast list of different types: whey protein, pea protein, soy protein, hemp protein, and the list goes on and on.
What you should know is that there is one type that stands far above the rest: whey protein.
Part 4: What Exactly is Whey Protein & How are Supplements Made?
Whey proteins are the milk proteins that can be isolated from whey, the “leftovers” from the cheese-making process. You can “see” it in the watery part of milk or the liquid that sits on top of your favourite yoghurt. Interestingly, cheese makers discarded whey for years, unaware of its incredible nutritional power. But now, whey receives its well-deserved respect.
Whey is separated from other ingredients during the cheese-making process and then undergoes a certain level of processing to be made into whey protein supplement. Depending on the type and brand of whey protein supplement you choose, this process can vary greatly.
Part 5: Why is Whey Protein the Ideal Choice?
Whey is the leader of all protein supplements when it comes to muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is the term for the building and strengthening of muscles, the foundation of improved fitness. Therefore, you want to approach this process in an efficient, intelligent manner to accelerate your progress. Whey protein supplements are the answer, leading the pack regarding effectiveness because they digest the most rapidly.
Another benefit of whey protein is its high concentration of amino acids, especially leucine. Leucine is the amino acid most responsible for promoting muscle growth, another factor in the effectiveness of whey. It also generally low in lactose (milk sugars) and fat, so it won’t negatively impact your other macronutrient levels. With natural vitamins and minerals, it is packed with good-for-you components.
Part 6: Are There Different Types of Whey Protein?
Whey protein comes in four main types, depending on the manufacturing process used. Each has its benefits and defining features, and fit different needs and preferences.
Whey Protein Concentrate:
This is the type of whey protein you will see most often, as it is the most common. It has less fat than other forms and higher levels of lactose and beneficial components. The protein content of whey protein concentrate typically falls between 30 percent and 90 percent.
Whey Protein Isolate:
This form involves the removal of fat and lactose, which results in a very high protein content of about 90 percent. You should know that this type contains far less beneficial bioactive compounds, as those are lost during the manufacturing process. People who have issues with lactose intolerance will find that this is a good option for them.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate:
This type is more expensive than others. It involves the addition of water to the formulation, so it is easier to digest.
Whey Protein Native:
In this form, skimmed milk is used in the manufacturing process. This type, unlike others, is not a byproduct of cheese-making. You will see this kind sold as either a concentrate or isolate.
Part 7: Are All Whey Protein Supplements Created Equally?
The short and simple answer to this question is a resounding no. Many companies heavily process their whey protein supplements, adding a long list of artificial ingredients. Ingredients like heavy metals, detergents, and synthetic additives often end up on the ingredients list, unbeknownst to many consumers. Some companies even add fillers to round out protein counts, so your actual protein intake ends up far lower than what is advertised on the label.
Also, high amounts of sugar are often added, which can derail your fitness goals. Sometimes, companies use artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which have been scientifically linked to serious health implications. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with a chemical-laden whey protein supplement that is essentially the same as drinking a fast food milkshake.
It is critical that you only purchase whey protein supplements from a company you can trust. At Cardiff Sports Nutrition, our ultimate goal is to propel you toward your health and fitness goals. This means that we only produce high-quality supplements that are truly good for you, and we only sell clean products that we would be willing to put in our bodies. Our range of whey protein come from globally recognised companies and are free of the junk that you’ll find in certain brands. This means a higher level of effort and attention to quality ingredients.
Part 8: How Do You Use Whey Protein?
A good guideline regarding daily consumption amount is 25 to 50 grams, which typically equates to one to two scoops (protein supplements usually include their measured scoop). Keep your protein consumption in mind to ensure that you are not overdoing it, and always read the product label for specific guidelines.
There isn’t necessarily a “wrong” time to consume whey protein, but you can follow a few guidelines to maximise its benefits. Many people utilise whey protein as a post-workout snack since it aids in muscle growth and repair. Thirty minutes after a workout is a good guideline. A whey protein shake, combined with that post-workout energy boost, will add an extra bounce to your step. Conversely, many people like to consume whey protein before an intense workout as fuel for their muscles and to motivate muscle growth.
How you choose to time your consumption, whether it is before or after a workout, solely depends on your personal preference.
Another way to use whey protein is to incorporate it as an ingredient in your daily meals. If you aren’t a fan of protein shakes, there are plenty of other ways to consume whey protein. Countless delicious recipes incorporate whey protein supplements, making it easy to reach your daily protein goals.
For a protein-packed breakfast, incorporate it into your oatmeal or smoothie, or make quick and easy protein pancakes. If you’re craving something sweet, whip up a protein pudding using Greek yoghurt for a healthy dessert. Protein bites incorporate protein powder, oats and peanut butter for a delicious, bite-sized energy boost.
Ultimately, reaching your health and fitness goals requires you to properly fuel your body with clean, nutrient-packed foods and supplements. Think of your body like a fine-tuned muscle car, requiring premium gasoline to maximise performance.
If your tank runs empty, your progress is going to come to a screeching halt. But don’t take shortcuts when it comes to choosing what you will be putting into your body, or you might find your progress slowing due to chemicals, fillers and artificial ingredients. Your body deserves only the best, so stick with a reputable company such as Reflex Nutrition, Scitec Nutrition or even Optimum Nutrition.