In a world where supplement usage is rife and there are so many to choose from, it’s difficult to know what to do. I’m a big advocate of real food so would always recommend this, however, if you want to take supplements it’s best to have advice on choosing the right ones. Supplements are a fantastic way to add some vital nutrients to your diet and speed up recovery. Their refined nature means the body absorbs them quickly so after training they’re ideal.
In principle the concept is simple. You train, consume a supplements and over time the combination of training, recovery and diet leads to improved results in either size, strength or speed. The issue comes with sports companies looking to improve their products by adding certain ingredients or, producing more they recommend you take. In this, and the following two posts, we will take on the topic of supplementation and provide you with some useful information on how to choose supplements that suit you. We will cover the following…
- Part 1: Protein
- Part 2: BCCA’s, Glutamine and Creatine
- Part 3: Carbohydrates, Fatty acids, Green powders
So let’s being with protein!
Protein; a quick introduction
Protein is the building block of muscle for every activity. Whether you power lift or run marathons, strong well-built muscles are essential to give you the performance you desire. Protein is great for boosting your performance. Its importance is the reason that we have dedicated a whole blog to it. With so many to choose from it’s essential you know the types and what each one can do for you.
How much should I take?
Different sources will give different figures, however, these are some good guidelines from which to work.
(I need these figures from you please).
The different protein types
Whey protein: The mac daddy
Whey protein is the most recognized and popular protein on the market. There is a huge range to choose from by a range of brands. There are three types; concentrate, hydrolysate and isolate. Concentrate is a cheap and easy way to add protein to your diet. Its concentrated nature can be tough going on the stomach so for anyone who is either lactose intolerant, or has IBS, this one may not be for you. It is, however, ideal for beginners because the protein isn’t as high quality as you would expect from isolate or hydrolysate meaning the price will be lower. Isolate and hydrolysate are two purer and further refined forms of protein. Higher in quality and easier for the body to absorb, these proteins are perfect for post workout consumption, however, the price tag will jump considerably.
Casein protein: The slow burner
Casein protein is different from whey protein because it takes considerably longer to break down in the stomach. Because of this, it is best taken at night prior to sleep so your body is still digesting and absorbing protein throughout the night. One of the issues with sleep (and a key reason to have breakfast) is that from a body building perspective, the body enters a catabolic state during the night. By consuming protein prior to sleep, the body is kept in an anabolic state which helps to prevent muscle degradation.
Soy, pea and rice protein: The vegetarian options
For those of you who are either vegan or vegetarian, these are ideal for you. These proteins are derived from plants and come with benefits that whey and casein protein don’t. The first is that they’re loaded with glutamine which is a really important supplement in recovery. The second is the greater presence of BCAA’s or branched chain amino acids which are essential amino acids the body can’t produce. This means you have to take them in through your diet. The last benefit is arginine which is another vital amino acid found in higher doses in this protein.
Egg albumin: The old school protein
Prior to the creation of different proteins from milk and plants, eggs were the staple of almost every body builders diet. In an ever increasing attempt to create better and more effective produces, you can now buy egg protein either in power form or, if you live in the states, in cartons as egg whites. This is an old school protein source that packs a number of different amino acids. This will be a little more expensive than the concentrate proteins, but cheaper than the isolate and the hydrolysate.
So what is best for me?
Beginner: Whey protein concentrate
Intermediate / Advanced: Hydrolysate or isolate protein
Athlete: Hydrolysate or isolate protein
Vegetarian: Soy, pea or rice protein
Lactose intolerant: Soy, pea or rice protein
If you’ve chosen a type of protein you want to use there will always be a period of trial and error. Some proteins simply won’t agree with you while others will be perfectly fine from the outset. All I would say is to start with the most well-known brands and then chose those that give you the best results.