10 Mar 2016
Category: Protein Powder


This article will hopefully help you to determine if, when and why you should have protein powders as part of your daily nutritional intake.

Protein can help you gain weight (muscle), trim those stubborn few kilos around your stomach (shred those abs) or help you get into competition shape.

These days, more and more people are taking protein powders in some form or another.  What was once a specialized supplement for bodybuilders has now become an everyday addition to most people from all walks of life.  Retailers like Coles, Woolies, Chemists, Health Stores, Cafes, Juice Bars and so on are all selling protein powders or “on the go” protein shakes of some kind.

High Protein, Vegan, Soy, Hydrolyzed??? There are so many different types of proteins now, are they just another money making gimmick or is there substance to the need of extra protein to our normal food intake or diets  Of course, one of the best (and also necessary) ways for your body to get the amount of protein that your it requires is through solid food proteins (meats), but as I am sure most bodybuilders or athletes would agree, it is not always easy to get all of their protein though solid foods efficiently or quickly.  When you have a full time job, family responsibilities or a hectic lifestyle, you don’t always have time to prepare balanced healthy meals, this is where protein powders can help.


Why do our bodies need protein? Protein is extracted from food sources such as meats, legumes and other foods. Proteins are used to grow, repair and maintain and improve muscle density. Proteins are also used to manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components.  Without ingesting adequate quantities of protein, our bodies can’t maintain our cells, tissues or organs, nor can it maintain the bio-organic functions for cardiovascular functions, muscle contraction (movement), growth, or healing. Without an adequate amount of protein our muscles revert to a state of muscular atrophy which means, tiredness, weakness and illness (the inability for our bodies to repair itself).


Protein Powders have become a familiar and popular addition to most peoples everyday food intake, from exercise fanatics to the general health conscious.

After workouts are one of the best times to get protein powders into your system, this way protein can be delivered quickly into the muscles to begin the healing of “micro tears” (very small tears in the muscle tissue, caused by exercise) This then supports optimal growth, repair and recovery. Now some people can say “I don’t need protein powder because I don’t lift weights” or “I don’t really train that hard” but the fact of the matter is that everyday movements that involve muscular contraction and expansion is exercise! Everyday bodily functions such as breathing, heart beats and internal organ functions attributes to muscular atrophy and requires protein to repair and recover!

Because solid proteins (food) take time to digest and to break down (from a couple of hours up to a couple of days) taking a protein shake immediately following exercise, your body can utilize the protein in the protein powder within 20 – 30 minutes.  You also have the ability to use intra and post proteins such as BCAA’s and EAA’s during and post training – but that is another article!

Another issue with solid foods in today’s society is the decrease in its nutritional efficacy.  Issues such as pre-ripe harvesting, soil mineral depletion, pesticides, herbicides and other toxins are just some of the reasons food has lost its nutritional value compared to 50 years ago – we might think we are being healthy and taking care of ourselves but it is literally a nutritional crap-shoot, hoping we get the proper nutrition from the foods we eat today.  Organic is a healthier option but extremely expensive and also the definition of “organic” is legislatively vague (that too is another article)


There are so many proteins on the market today – how can you possible know which protein is the best for you?

To make this debate simple and to save arguing with others of differing opinions, I will make this explanation very simple and general – Or bodies need protein to repair and maintain muscle activity, what determines the best protein for us is what we want that protein to do.  So here is a simple breakdown of the proteins –

WPI – Whey Protein Isolate – is a fast digesting protein, normally taken straight after training for optimal efficiency.  Absorbed into the muscle within 20-30 minutes, this is the post training protein of choice for the bodybuilder, athlete or anyone looking at shredding fat or lean muscle gains.

Protein Blends – Protein Blends are a mix of various types of quick, medium and slow release proteins.  Designed as a general purpose protein, it caters for all options by continually releasing protein over various periods of time.

Caseins / Caseinates – a slow release protein normally used as pre bedtime protein as it takes approx. 8 hours for your body to digest and utilize.  This means that your body won’t convert the protein into fats whilst you are sleeping.

The bottom line is, whey is a complete protein with a very high BV (biological value – your body’s ability to assimilate the protein ingested).  This means it contains all the essential and nonessential amino acids and boasts the highest branched-chain amino acid content found in nature. The BV of whey is approximately 104, while the next highest BV is 100, for whole egg. In contrast, the BV of whole milk is 91, the BV of casein is 77, beef is 80, soy is 74, wheat is 54, and beans are 49.  There are plenty of non-dairy proteins on the market today to cater for the vegetarian, vegan or whey intolerant users  BV is only one criteria for proteins, and although important, people often make too big a deal of it. For example, beef has a fairly low BV but has been a staple protein for athletes (and people in general) for decades. Soy has a low BV but has other potentially useful properties. So, as a general guide to choosing proteins, BV is something to consider (a gauge not a bible) and is not a bias on other forms of proteins.


The minimum amount of protein that you should take in for building muscle is 2 gram of protein per kilo of body weight (for instance, if you weigh 100 kilos than the minimum amount of protein you should take in is 200 grams per day of protein for muscle growth). Any additional protein that exceeds the daily minimum for muscle gain just helps to speed up the healing process.

Now 200g of protein does not mean a 200g steak.  The percentage of protein varies in each protein source.

Fish. . . . . . . . .     average 20%

Chicken. . . . . . .     average 20%

Red Meat. . . . . .average 30%

Dairy . . . . . . . . .    average 20%

We use a scale of – ( min 2g/kilo – – – – average 4g/kilo – – – – high activity 6g/kilo )

In average a 100kg person would need to eat about 800g – 1kg of meat a day to maintain the minimum protein requirements for body functions etc. Once you introduce exercise, weight training the quantity doubles to triples. This is too much meat for the body to process on a daily basis (an active person training would need to eat 1.5kg – 2kg of meat per day to maintain bodily functions, repair muscle breakdown and increase existing muscle density – too much for the body to handle.  This is why protein powders are used – high protein intake with minimal calories and digestive requirement)

Even though there has been debate over a maximum amount of protein you should take in, it is my belief that it is not possible for somebody to take in too much protein, however, if you take in huge amounts of protein it is a good idea to supplement your diet with calcium and magnesium since excessive amounts of protein has been proven to leech the calcium and magnesium in the body.

However, I emphasize high protein ingestion for more than one reason. Not only do muscles require the marvelous ingredient to repair and grow but also three-quarters of the solids in the body are comprised of proteins.


As we have already covered, WPI is best after training, Blends are better throughout the day, Caseins are best before bedtime, the amount of protein your body needs daily is between 2g-6g per day per kilo of bodyweight.  Another variable in the protein intake calculations asides from the quantity and the quality, is also the absorption and breakdown rate of the protein source you are ingesting by your body?  The absorption rate will vary dependent on how “clean” your body is running and how well your digestive organs are working.  This will also vary the timeframe to breakdown the foods into an absorbable state.  It is not uncommon for nutrients to be leeched form the body during the digestive processes.

In short unless you are a molecular physicist or nutritional genius, it is very hard to work out exactly what your body need and when it needs it.


Regardless of your goals, protein should be regarded as a foundational ingredient for achieving optimal progress in physique enhancement, performance and wellbeing. It’s certainly no secret that any person who is generally active in sports and/or trains with weights or other resistance will benefit from getting increased protein. However, even those who don’t exercise can find advantages to taking in protein. Many enjoy the anti-aging effects that a high protein diet can result in.   The best way to figure out what works best for YOU is to try it out yourself.  You are the best person to judge what works best for you.

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