If you’re new to working out at the gym, you’ll likely have heard about protein, or been recommended to take some by a fellow gym rat. But what is it exactly? And why is it a good idea to supplement your diet with protein shakes?
What is protein?
Protein is vital for creating muscle mass. In fact it’s an important factor in many things in your body. Hair and nails are made from protein; your body uses protein to create hormones, enzymes, and other body chemicals; it’s a crucial element in the creation of cartilage, blood, bones, skin, as well as muscles.
When you exercise, the muscles tear and then repair afterwards with the help of protein to create newer, stronger tissue. Protein is a macronutrient – which means you need a relatively large supply of it. It doesn’t get stored in the body, so without eating the right foods and taking protein supplements, you won’t have a regular supply to draw upon.
Where can I get protein?
The best natural sources of protein are things like fish and poultry. Not only will fish offer you those wonderful heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it will be less fatty than other meats. Poultry is a staple for many a gym-goer, and you can eliminate some of the saturated fats that come with is by removing the skin. Things like nuts, beans, and whole grains are another natural source of protein, with some plant-based foods giving you almost as much protein as you would find in other meats.
However it can get a bit tiring eating the same things again and again – which is where things like protein supplements come in. To get the best out of your protein consumption, it’s best to use a blend of the two protein sources, so as to give your body the best chance to build muscle. It’s also important to exercise regularly so that your body has the opportunity to use all of that glorious protein.
How best to take it
There’s no one size fits all answer for how much protein you should take. It will vary from person to person, dependent on factors such as sex, weight, height, among other factors. Your best way to figure out how much protein you need to consume regularly in order to be able to build protein is to use our protein calculator – this should be able to tell you roughly how much protein you should aim to consume on a day to day basis.
The type of protein shake you should take will vary on your goal. If you’re after building up lean muscle and keeping a lean physique, you’ll want a lean protein to go with it. Take a look at our Whey Isolate, which has a low sugar content per serving as well as a high protein content. Or our Anabolic Gold, which has a whopping 86% protein content per serving.
Not sure what your overall goal is? An all-rounder would be the best place to start – check out our best-selling Whey Matrix, or an all-in-one protein blend such as Tornado. For the more hardcore bodybuilders who are looking to bulk up, our range of Monster proteins will be ideal.
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Lead image: Nutthaseth Vanchaichana via Getty Images.