Protein Powder (A Brief Review). And By “Brief,” What I Really Mean Is “The Most Un-Scientific Post Ever.”
Not long ago I mentioned that I would start dedicating some time discussing supplements; which ones I like, which ones I dislike, and which ones will make girls want to hang out with you.
First on the hit list is protein powder. For those of you who are new to my blog, you can read my “philosophy” on supplements here. In a nutshell, I tend to follow the same approach as John Berardi in that I tend to place supplements into two categories; essential and targeted. Essential supplements are what I like to call non-supplement supplements. In other words, all of these can technically be attained through whole foods alone, but supplementation is often utilized to meet daily requirements/needs based on lifestyle. Protein powder would fall into this category.
On an aside, supplements that would fall into the “targeted” category would include things like thermogenics (fat loss products), CNS stimulants (caffeine/yohimbe), cell volumizers (creatine), etc.
Since this is the first go-around for this series, I’m just going to shoot from the hip and jot down some random thoughts on the matter in no particular order.
I’m a protein guy and have often advocated that people need to try to get more protein into their diets; especially for those who lead a more active lifestyle. In a fairly recent study/review (Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2006 Dec;31(6):647-54), it was rationalized that (and I am paraphrasing here) the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein/ kg of body weight was pretty much the most retarded thing ever.
That being said, it’s been my experience that the vast majority of people out there follow a diet that is strikingly low in protein. Furthermore, when those same people see that many fitness professionals recommend upwards of 1.0-1.5 grams of protein/lb of body-weight, they often think to themselves, “there is no way I can eat that much protein. I wouldn’t even know where to start!”
First off, that’s absurd. There are plenty of cute little furry animals that can be killed and eaten. The only ones that are off limits are kittens, puppies, and baby seals. And Bambi, of course. Bambi’s mom is fair game though. Secondly, because of its convenience, protein powder fits nicely into most trainee’s dietary plans. While I always advocate that people try to focus on whole foods as much as possible, protein powder can serve as a perfect adjunct to one’s diet and help them reach their dietary protein needs.
I prefer to recommend brands that consist of high(er) quality protein blends (think casein, milk protein, whey isolate). As well, I also like to stick to brands that don’t taste like sandpaper, or worse, laundry detergent dipped in cancer. Some of my favorites:
And I’m sure there are a plethora of other brands out there that people know about, so feel free to share them in the comments section.
As far as how often and when to take protein powder. That will obviously depend on one’s activity level, dietary needs, etc. However, generally speaking, I like to tell clients to use protein shakes at times when it’s hard to make a “real” meal (mid AM or mid PM snacks). Additionally, post-training would also be an ideal time to ingest some high quality protein. And because this is just a blog post and not an all-out article, I’ll refrain from the obvious talking points (whey vs. casein/ fast vs. slow, blah blah blah). For those who really want to dive into the minutia (timing, protein quality, BCAA’s, will protein cause your kidneys to hate you, is there a max amount of protein you can ingest in one sitting, protein needs vs. optimization, to name a few) I definitely recommend Lyle McDonald’s The Protein Book.
In short, I “heart” protein powder. We’re total BFF’s. Last weekend alone we braided each other’s hair and watched Twilight for the 3rd time. OMGVAMPIRES!!!!!