How Should Protein Powder Be Used for Building Muscle?
People expect magical results from protein powders. Learn how to correctly incorporate protein powders into your supplementation program.
Every week in my e-mail box I get several e-mails like this:
I have been struggling to build muscle. It seems like no matter what I do I can’t gain muscle. I think I need to start taking protein shakes. I’ve heard they are one of the best supplements for muscle building. Will they help me?
This seems like a fairly basic and harmless question right? But it drives me nuts because it shows a lack of basic understanding about the function of protein supplements. Now understand that I’m not upset at the person sending in the question, but rather the supplement companies that have perpetrated this crime on the consumer.
You see, protein powders really aren’t that special. Sure, they have cool labels that talk about their “proprietary blend” or how they contain special additives that make one brand better than another. But I’m telling you right now that none of these protein powders are that special.
The basic ingredient in all these protein powders is the same: protein. Sure, it comes from different sources (whey, casein, egg, soy, rice, etc.), and some sources may be marginally better than others, but the basic fact remains that these are “protein” powders.
And what is protein? Well, for those of us looking to build muscle it is the building block which repairs the muscle fibers we damage during training. Ample amounts of protein are essential to muscle growth, but protein is certainly not magical.
Just as chicken breasts, steak, eggs, cottage cheese, and other foods are rich sources of protein, so too are protein powders. But you should also know that protein powders don’t have any magical muscle building effects. They are no different than consuming any of the previously named protein sources. In fact, if anything, the whole food protein sources above are better for muscle building than protein powder because they contain a variety of other nutrients in a addition to protein.
Always keep in mind that a well-designed training and nutrition program is the foundation for muscle and strength gains. By adding in protein shakes you shouldn’t expect to suddenly start packing on muscle. Although they are one of the best supplements for muscle building, they are simply a solid addition to an already great nutrition program.
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