If you are involved in the world of weight training or high performance training, surely you know the importance of proteins to achieve muscle hypertrophy.
In this article I will explain what proteins are and how they work in our body, and I will try to clarify questions many people ask (maybe you are one of them) about the need to Take protein shakes, how much to take and when to take them.
Let’s get to it…
What are proteins?
Protein, one of the three macronutrients, are molecules formed by amino acids.
In nature there are 20 of these amino acids, however our body only naturally produces some of them, so the rest we must get through food.
We classify proteins into 2 types: complete and incomplete.
Complete proteins are those molecules that contain all 20 amino acids, while incomplete proteins will therefore be those that lack one or more of these amino acids.
Animal proteins, such as meat, eggs and milk, are complete, while plant-based proteins, such as proteins contained in legumes, cereals and nuts, are incomplete.
Energetically, proteins contain 4 kcal per gram so they have the same energy intake as carbohydrates and less than fats, which provide 9 kcal per gram.
Proteins play a fundamental role in the body, they cause nutrients to be absorbed and metabolized, which Supports both recovery and muscle development.
They are also essential for the immune system and for the production of testosterone, so if your daily protein intake is insufficient, not only will you have problems increasing or preserving your muscle mass but you will be more prone to diseases and infections and your energy levels will be lower.
Donad Layman, a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, says most adults may benefit from increased protein intake.
In his publications he defends that protein is not advisable only for athletes who want to increase their muscle mass, but that the satiating power of protein can benefit individuals to prevent such common evils in our society as obesity.
How much protein do I have to take?
The WHO places the minimum physiological protein intake between 0.8 and 1 gram per kilo of body weight per day.
However, as nutritionist Holmes Place states, “specific situations such as physical activity or some pathologies may lead to greater or lesser protein needs (…).
For example, a greater volume of physical activity implies greater muscle wasting, especially if strength exercises are performed.”
The latter is our case, so the daily amount of protein we must take is higher than that consumed by the rest of the population.
Studies in this regard suggest that the optimal consumption of protein, whether our goal is to increase muscle mass or if it is to define the existing one, is around the 1.5 grams of protein per kilo of body weight.
Holmes also states that “in older people it is also advisable to increase the amount of protein, as it prevents muscle loss.”
This can be extrapolated to the case of someone who is in the definition stage, therefore in caloric deficit, and whose objective is to preserve as much muscle mass as possible.
Is it bad to take in a lot of protein?
Like everything in this life, consuming any macronutrient or vitamin in excess has negative effects.
If we take proteins in VERY high amounts, the body will not be able to process them and if this occurs continuously, it could lead to kidney or liver problems.
However, the belief has spread that a slightly higher than average protein intake is harmful to health and this is totally false.
You can quietly consume around 1.5 grams of protein per kilo or even a little more. However, numerous studies have shown that A daily protein intake of more than 2 grams per kilo of weight does not provide benefits At the time de build muscle mass.
In addition, it is very likely that in your diet there are imbalances and deficiencies since you will be allocating too high a proportion of your daily calories to protein.
Likewise, nutritionists advise us that a part of our protein sources are of vegetable origin (legumes, nuts, cereals) since apart from the fact that there are very rich options in proteins, they are rich in fiber and minerals
Proteins of animal origin, on the other hand, are usually rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, so we must monitor the amount we consume and opt when possible for white meat and skimmed dairy products.
When do I have to eat protein?
This is a hotly debated topic.
Some argue that you should include protein sources in all your meals and that you should eat every 2 or 3 hours to provide a continuous source of protein to the body to avoid the dreaded muscle catabolism.
Others, on the contrary, argue that as with calorie consumption, the important thing is the daily balance.
I, personally, opt more for the second group.
Although there are sources of protein of very rapid absorption, such as those of Whey supplements, most have much longer absorption times and the more protein consumed in a meal, the longer your body will need to process it.
Following the example of supplements, at the other extreme in terms of absorption rate we find the casein supplements.
This protein, which we will talk about in more depth later, is ideal to take before going to bed as it offers us a continuous supply of protein throughout the night.
Protein sources like this shatter the arguments of those who defend that you should eat protein foods continuously throughout the day.
Therefore, my recommendation is that you focus on meeting your daily caloric and protein needs for your goals rather than when you make meals.
Best Natural Sources of Protein
As I mentioned in the post, the best thing is combine animal and plant protein sources.
Those of animal origin provide us with complete amino acid chains and a high protein content per 100 grams.
On the other hand, plant-based protein sources tend to have a lower fat content and are rich in minerals and fiber.
Among the best foods of animal origin are chicken and turkey meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products and white fish.
Blue fish, despite its high fat content, should also be incorporated into our diet for the multiple benefits that Omega 3 gives us.
In the group of proteins of vegetable origin we have options such as tofu, soy, quinoa, chia seeds and most legumes.
If you find it difficult to reach your daily protein goals with traditional diet, you should consider incorporating a supplement into your diet. Below I will describe some of the most effective options that exist in the market.
What are protein shakes
Protein shakes are a great way to quickly and conveniently add a good dose of protein. It should be clarified first of all that The purpose of protein shakes is not to replace meals.
Nor are they miracle products as many people believe. For the simple reason that you start taking them you will not see your muscles grow. For this you will need good training, good nutrition and perseverance, a lot of perseverance …
In short, protein shakes are an extra contribution that will help us meet our daily protein or caloric needs, or a way to adjust the distribution of macronutrients in our diet.
Types of protein shakes
In this category there is also a wide range of products: whey proteins, casein, egg protein, rice protein…
The supplementation sector is in continuous development and products are constantly being launched on the market.
Veal-based protein powder is one of the products that have been launched on the market in recent years and have managed to capture my attention.
The energy value of the protein is always the same, 4 kcal/gram, whatever it is. its origin.
However, the body does not assimilate 100% of the protein we eat and the percentage of use does vary depending on the source. This is called biological value.
The protein food with the highest biological value is the egg, of which the body is able to assimilate 94% of the protein content it has.
Veal, under optimal conditions, can reach practically equal values while the biological value of protein from milk is 60%.
Even so, the fact that some of the most important brands have not released any product based on beef protein makes me suspicious so I usually opt for the 2 classic options: Whey protein (whey), and the casein.
Difference between whey and casein protein
The difference between these two types of protein is the absorption time. While the Whey protein is very fast absorbed, which makes it ideal as a post-workout shake, casein offers a steady flow of protein for several hours, so it is indicated to be taken before going to sleep or in the morning along with the first meal of the day.
Both are good options, the decision of which one to make will depend on which of the two best suits your schedule. In my case I opt for casein because I’m late to the gym and my post-workout meal is dinner. But in other times when I have gone earlier to train, I have opted for whey.
Some studies indicate that the best option is to combine both since they offer different benefits and taking both you benefit from all of them. But this may prove too expensive.
Finally, I must tell you that on the subject of proteins, the saying that cheap is expensive is usually fulfilled. If you compare a little you will see that there are big differences between the prices of the different brands.
While you do not need to buy the most expensive of all, think that the cheapest options may be opting for lower quality raw materials to be able to offer those attractive prices.
Other articles that may interest you:
- Take creatine before or after training. In this article I explain it.
If you have any questions about protein shakes do not hesitate to leave your comment. I will answer you delighted 😉