What Are the Pros and Cons of Protein Supplements?
What Is It?
Hard workouts and a healthy diet are essential to building solid muscle mass. If an athlete neglects consuming adequate amount of nutrients and calories, he or she will make no progress. Protein is the main component for muscle mass growth.
The daily protein requirement for athletes is 1.5–2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Most of this dose should consist of natural amino acids that are found in meat products, cottage cheese, and cheese. It is no secret that one of the best sources of this building material is found in egg whites.
Eggs are easy to digest, but they contain very little pure protein – an average egg contains no more than 6 grams of protein. That is, an average athlete (70–75 kg) should eat about 26–28 eggs per day.
Eating only eggs 4 times a day is not very pleasant. Combining them with meat or fish is an extremely hard work for the body. The kidneys and liver work at full capacity when they absorb natural protein. Constant heavy stress on these organs will surely lead to negative consequences – from renal failure to liver cirrhosis.
Sports supplements in the form of protein powders come to the rescue for the athletes who need constant supply of easily digestible amino acids. Due to the fact that manufacturers try to clean it from other admixtures (actually, the price depends on the degree of protein purity – the cleaner the powder, the more expensive it is), a protein shake taken in time helps the body get the maximum amount of protein that can be easily absorbed and put into building and recovery of muscle fibers.
When it comes to sports supplements, namely, protein blends, they can be divided into fast acting and slow acting shakes. The first ones should be taken in the daytime, and the second ones should be consumed at night, in order for the body to get the materials needed for muscle building during sleep.
The Benefits and Risks
What to be afraid of?
The opponents of protein powders consider this product the main cause of kidney failure and liver disorders. Also, there are some individuals who equate all sports supplements with anabolic steroids. There is no evidence of the dangers of protein sports supplements. There may be only individual intolerance or disorders in the functioning of internal organs, in which the intake of any unnatural substances can have a negative impact on the health.
Another cause of organic problems is the excessive protein intake. If an athlete consumes excessive doses of protein regularly, for a long time, it causes kidney and liver problems and negatively affects the entire gastrointestinal tract. There is no need to consume more than 40 grams of protein at a time. Also, you should not exceed the recommended daily dose of protein.
There are the following positive aspects that are based on scientific studies:
|Weight loss and muscle mass preservation||In the journal "Nutrition & Metabolism", a study was published that confirmed that 158 test subjects who consumed protein serum, were able to burn more fat and save muscles than people who did not use the supplement|
|Anti-cancer properties||The results that tentatively indicate positive effects of using protein supplements in the treatment of patients with cancer were published in the journal "Anticancer Research". The studies are still going on|
|Decrease in cholesterol levels||The "British Journal of Nutrition" published the information that the intake of protein supplements by men and women for 12 weeks had significantly decreased total cholesterol levels. This result applies only to whey proteins. Casein group does not yield such an effect|
|Asthma relief||There had been a study involving 11 asthmatic children. They were given 10 grams of whey protein twice a day during a month. It resulted in the improvement of immune response. The data were published in the "International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition"|
|Decrease of the risk of cardiovascular diseases||The "International Dairy Journal" published an article about the fact that incorporation of whey protein drinks into the diet significantly decreased the blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular diseases.|
|Aid at HIV||The"Clinical and Investigative Medicine" journal published the studies that confirm the successful use of protein shakes to reduce weight loss in HIV-positive patients.|
Nowadays, protein blends are recommended not only to bodybuilders, but also to fitness amateurs, as well as to all athletes, no matter their sport.
Modern methods of protein synthesis and purification provide a quality product that can replenish your energy stores in time if needed. Besides, a protein shake takes less time to digest than, for example, after eating meat.
The diet of an athlete interested in muscle mass growth and increasing physical strength should consist mostly of natural foods containing adequate amounts of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, and poultry (all foods containing protein).
Also, the athlete should not neglect carbohydrates and – to a much lesser extent – fats. A proper diet consisting of meat products, protein, and a small dose of fat can surely help improve athletic performance.
To get the maximum benefit from the supplement, you should remember the golden rule: "Do not use supplements to replace your meal, but they should complement your diet."
Using Sports Supplements for Different Purposes
Muscle Mass Building
The athletes who aim at building solid muscle mass and developing phenomenal physical strength should consume higher amounts of protein. An average person needs 1–1.5 grams of protein per day to maintain good health and working ability, but an athlete needs at least 2–2.5 grams. Moreover, 2/3 of this dose should consist not of protein powder, but of natural food.
24 hours after a hard workout, you should increase your daily protein dose by 1.5 times and consume it for two days. In order for the muscle building process to pass properly, you need to have a portion of carbohydrate food immediately after a workout. And the next day, the athlete should consume twice as many carbohydrates. ¾ of these carbohydrates should be complex.
During the "Cutting Phase"
During this period, you need to close the protein-carbohydrate window after exercise with protein blends, but not a gainer. Also, you can take a protein shake immediately after a “pumping” workout. During the cutting phase, it is also recommended to take a serving of protein before exercise (pay attention to the cutting phase for men and women).
Using for Weight Loss
A protein shake for weight loss... Many people are surprised to hear something like that.
How is it possible to lose weight by means of protein consumption, while, on the contrary, it promotes muscle mass gain? In fact, it is possible.
The main thing is leading a healthy lifestyle, sticking to a proper diet, and consuming quality foods.
Not only protein, but also all foods consumed by a person should be high-quality.
The intake of carbohydrates and fats should be reduced, but the amount of protein should remain the same. One and a half grams per kilogram of body weight is the daily protein requirement for all cases.
¾ of carbohydrates in the athlete’s diet should come from the "proper" food, such as pasta of durum wheat, brown bread, cereals, etc. The consumption of sweets and flour products should be minimized and such foods should be eaten in the first half of the day.
In fact, a person does not gain weight from protein shakes, if the body does not need to build new muscles. So, you should not be afraid to gain a few kilograms during the weight loss period. On the contrary, you will rest your stomach from heavy food, and it will quickly obtain the necessary substances from other foods.
Let’s summarize the main points of the article:
- Protein is a specific set of amino acids needed for muscle building and some metabolic processes inside the body.
- The science cannot confirm any harm of this sports supplement for the human health. The people who have an individual intolerance to the product or disorders in the functioning of internal organs are the only exceptions.
- The protein blends may contain different sets of proteins that are absorbed by the body at different rates.
- You can read about the best protein supplements in our article.