As the New Year begins, many of us are making fitness our resolution. A gym membership and cute workout gear are the most popular go-to items when people get ready to kickstart their new regiments. However, some of the most important tools — and one the grand majority of people decide to skip or shortchange — are the products that directly impact their health. Although supplementation can get a bad rap from all of the fad diets and fit teas, there are many products that have real tangible impact on the state of your health. Some supplements, vitamins and protein powders can really assist you in reaching your goals and helping with recovery after training.
I’ve received tons of questions this past week about protein powders and shakes, and what is the best way to use them to work toward that toned and lean physique, so this week we are going to finally clear up the subject and learn about how they actually work and how to integrate them into your new regimen.
First, let's tackle some of the common misconceptions and myths:
Q1: Will protein powders and shakes make you bulky or have you busting out of your clothes with muscles?
Well, yes — but not really. When you weight train, you break muscle fibers. When those are repaired with the right elements, they will rebuild stronger, creating muscle hypertrophy, muscle growth.
Protein shakes can help you replenish and repair the muscle fibers you have broken, and as a result, it helps you build muscle. So while protein will help you recover, you aren't going to wake up the next day looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Q2: Is a protein shake or powder the same thing as meal?
This question can be tricky. I love food, and I will always prefer a solid meal with veggies, complex carbs and lean protein. But, there is a time and place for everything.
Sometimes, it's a matter of convenience. If I'm on the road and don't want to miss a meal, I will have a shake. I also prefer a shake before and/or after my workout. I personally choose a plant-based protein, because I don't like the bloating I get from whey or lactose. I've listed some additional benefits below on why the right protein powder and shake are important.
Q3: What are the proven benefits?
1. It's the most convenient and readily available source of protein.
2. It's lighter and easier on the stomach before and after workouts.
3. It's easier to obtain necessary dietary protein with minimal added carbs and fat.
4. It's easier to metabolize than solid plant or animal protein.
5. It enhances recovery when consumed after training.
6. It replenishes glycogen levels.
7. It prevents catabolism of the muscles.
8. It provides essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that the body needs but does not produce on its on to build, repair, and maintain muscle mass.
Q4: Should I only have a protein shake after a workout?
As I mentioned, I personally prefer a shake as the meal before my workout. I usually digest pretty quickly and can get going within an hour without feeling sluggish or like I'm carrying a food baby.
Since we all have different schedules and lifestyles, the timing of a shake comes down to you. I've listed a few options below, so you can apply this info to your own lifestyle:
1. Quick Breakfast:
Add a quarter cup of oats, fresh fruit and ice to your favorite protein powder for an awesome breakfast smoothie.
If you don't have time to digest a full meal, try a pre-workout protein shake. Give yourself about an hour to digest.
This is a great way to replenish the body after a grueling workout. This could satisfy you until you make it home for your full meal.
Uou can fix quick smoothies that are super delicious to eat throughout the day and keep you satisfied, alert and focused. These smoothies can include a piece of fruit of your choice.
Ultimately, protein powders can be a great addition to your new lifestyle — especially if you understand how to properly integrate them into your eating habits. Following a healthy diet in combination with resistance and cardiovascular training is best when using any supplement. While supplements are there to help you achieve your goals, they will not be as effective if you're not eating clean and exercising.
Next week we will talk about what a balanced diet should look like to help you achieve those goals for this New Year. Stay tuned — and let’s hit the ground running!