We see those large, imposing tubs being sold in supplement shops. Filled with a powdered substance, presented in various flavors, seducing us with the promise of a ripped and toned physique.
Chances are, we are looking at a tub of whey protein. Derived from cow’s milk, whey is one of the extracted proteins from milk during the cheese-making process, the other being casein. Of the two, whey protein is more easily digested, thus, absorbed faster by the body. The most cost efficient and readily available type in the market would be whey protein concentrate (WPC), which is an excellent protein source, that is very low on carbohydrates.
It is one of the most widely used supplements by body-builders, those training with weights and doing sports—for good reason. The muscle-building properties of whey protein are well supported by research. Whey protein contains amino acids essential for muscle growth. Consuming high quality whey protein enhances muscle protein synthesis, which in turn leads to the growth of lean muscle mass. Whether taken in the various commercially available forms such as protein powder, protein bars, protein cookies, protein coffee and the ready to drink variety, whey protein will certainly help build muscle.
Immediately after weight-training, our muscles will need nourishment for growth. Taking a scoop or two of whey protein is an excellent idea if gaining muscle is the agenda. Leading brands of whey protein–such as Muscletech’s Nitrotech Ripped and MusclePharm’s Combat Whey–deliver between 25-30 grams of protein per scoop. This will be rapidly absorbed by the body, aiding muscle regeneration.
Natural food sources such as chicken, beef pork, other meats and fish also contain muscle building protein. If however, you are unable to meet your required daily protein intake from whole foods, supplementation is always a good idea. After all, mixing ourselves a protein shake post workout is a more viable option than devouring chicken breasts or flank steaks in the gym.
To build and maintain muscle mass, active individuals are advised to consume around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If for instance, you weigh 150 lbs, it is best to consume 150 grams of protein daily. For reference, a chicken quarter contains around 25-35 grams of protein, depending on the size of the specimen. A cup of boiled peanuts (in shell) typically contains 14 grams of protein. A boneless 4 oz. slice of pork will normally have around 24 grams.
Apart from its lean muscle building properties, whey protein can also be used as a weight loss aid since consuming it can give a feeling of fullness. Instead of snacking on junk food in between meals, why not try downing a scoop of whey protein (mixed with water) instead? We will feel fuller, longer, helping us resist the temptation of unhealthy snacking. There are several ways to consume whey protein. It can simply be mixed with water or non-fat milk as a post workout snack. Another option is to toss it into a blender with fruits, water and/or milk for a healthy breakfast shake. More adventurous users have incorporated it into baking cookies, muffins and cakes.
Hungry muscles will need fuel to grow. For this, whey protein is our best bet.