If you have ever trained or worked out before you have probably heard that in order to build muscle and lose fat you need to ingest Protein. While that is true, protein is not the end all be all to building muscle. You need sleep, proper training and sufficient levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to build muscle. For the sake of this article we will discuss what protein is, how much you need, which brands are the best, and why, so without further ado.
What exactly is Protein?
Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies. These body proteins are constantly being broken down and replaced. The protein in the foods we eat is digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies.
Protein is found in the following foods:
• meats, poultry, and fish
• legumes (dry beans and peas)
• nuts and seeds
• milk and milk products
• grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide only small amounts of protein relative to other sources)
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the building blocks. There are 20 different amino acids that join together to make all types of protein. Some of these amino acids can’t be made by our bodies, so these are known as essential amino acids. It’s essential that our diet provide these. In the diet, protein sources are labeled according to how many of the essential amino acids they provide:
• A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids. You may also hear these sources called high quality proteins. Animal-based foods; for example, meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese are considered complete protein sources.
• An incomplete protein source is one that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Complementary proteins are two or more incomplete protein sources that together provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.
Protein supplements are powdered or liquid foods that contain protein from various sources, such as whey (a liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained in the process of making cheese), egg, and soy (the three most common sources of supplement protein). The three best proteins used in supplements for building muscle are Whey, Casein, and egg. The reasons you should avoid soy is because the soybeans used are predominantly genetically modified and too much may inhibit your body’s ability to produce testosterone.
You don’t NEED protein supplements to gain muscle, but it can be impractical to try to get all your protein from whole foods every day.
Proteins are absorbed at different speeds and knowing which ones digest fast(Whey) and which ones digest slow(casein,egg) are important for picking the right protein at the right time.(post workout or bedtime)
In order to maximize results you would ingest Whey post workout because it digests fast and will quickly spike amino acid levels in your blood facilitating the beginning of your body’s repair cycle, for additional recovery you can use egg or casein as it will work throughout the night to continue repairing damaged tissues. You should get most of your protein from whole food sources so I would only recommend drinking shakes around your workouts or before bed.
The next questions you should ask yourself when selecting a protein is, where does the protein come from and how is it processed? Does it contain artificial sweeteners or hormones like rBGH? Does it contain fillers and heavy metals?
There is no reason to be ingesting something that is supposed to repair muscle damage while pumping your body full of toxins, and the fact is most proteins are full of these toxins.
Here are 9 things to think about when buying protein.
• Does it contain all-natural, pasture-fed cows’ whey, and NOT pesticide-treated, grain-fed cows’ whey
Compared to grain-fed cows, pasture-fed cows produce whey that:
• Is nutritionally superior to grain fed
• Contains an impressive amino acid and immuno-supportive nutrient profile
• Is rich in healthy fats–lipolic acid and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
• GMO-free whey
Choose whey made without GMOs.
• Cold processed, NOT heat processed
Most whey is heat processed which:
• Makes the whey acidic and nutritionally deficient
• Damages the immuno-supportive micronutrients and amino acids
• Makes whey inadequate for consumption
Cold processed whey protects the nutrients in their natural state.
• Acid-free processing, NOT Acid / Ion Exchange Processing
Acid / Ion Exchange Processing is cheaper than acid-free processing, but it denatures the amino acid profiles by using acids and chemicals to separate the whey from the fats.
• Whey protein concentrate, NOT protein isolates
Protein isolates are proteins stripped away from their nutritional cofactors. There are three problems with that…
• All isolates are exposed to acid processing.
• Your body cannot assimilate proteins in isolated form.
• Due to over-processing, isolates are deficient in key amino acids and nutritional cofactors.
You must make sure you get whey protein concentrate instead of protein isolates, which are an inferior product.
When you remove fat, you actually remove components of its immunological properties, such as phospholipids, phosphatidylserine, and cortisol. Additionally, all of the igG immunoglobulins, which are an excellent source of glutamine and cysteine, are also bound to the fat globule. Fat provides not only calories; most foods rich in healthful fat – including nuts and seeds like almonds and chia – are carriers of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and phytosterols.
Therefore, you’re clearly left with an inferior whey protein if you take the fat out. So don’t settle for anything less than whey protein concentrate.
• Sweetened naturally, NOT artificially, and low carb
Most whey products are artificially sweetened making them useless if you have sugar sensitivities, or just don’t want to put artificial sweeteners or flavors into your body.
Your whey should be low glycemic, low carb and should not contain any artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohol, glycerin, fructose, sugar or gluten.
• Maximum biological value, NOT compromised or damaged
Most whey proteins provide some benefit. But, due to the ingredients, the source of the whey, the concentration of beneficial nutrients, or the type of processing, many whey products simply don’t deliver what they promise.
You want whey that’s guaranteed to retain its maximum biological value — one with all the key amino acids, cofactors and beneficial micronutrients present and intact rather than compromised or damaged, and not missing any amino acids or essential nutrients.
• Easy to Digest, NOT Causing Digestive Stress
Many whey products contain long-chain fatty acids, which are hard to digest and require bile acids to absorb. You want a whey protein powder with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). These are easily absorbed, digested quickly, and utilized as energy without causing digestive stress. Ideally, you want a product in which the MCT come from the best source of all — coconut oil.
• Free from Toxic Heavy Metals or at Such Low Levels NOT to be a Health Risk
Many protein powders both whey and non-whey could contain dangerous levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
A Consumer Reports’ evaluation showed some leading brands of protein powders exceeded United States Pharmacopoeia’s (USP) recommended safety limits for certain heavy metals.
You want to avoid these products at all costs because any high concentration of heavy metals taken over time could lead to serious health consequences.
I understand this can be a lot to consider when getting your protein but this is your health we are talking about and it should be your number one concern.
You can probably find proteins with some of these points above but it you would be hard pressed to find one with all these components at your local health food store. That is why I have done the research for you and have found two brands that I personally use and stand behind.
So there you have it. Everything you need to know about protein. Yes you should use protein post workout but make sure you use the good stuff, your body will thank you for it later.