Supplements have always been an aspect of fitness and health that has scared many people away. It starts to talk about the science-related side of health and fitness and can often change your perception of how much effort it takes to really get fit.
Most studies and reviews indicate that everyday people trying to get healthier should source their protein primarily from food and turn to supplements only when it's not available from the diet. Unfortunately big companies that are only interested in profit will tell you all kinds of thing they think you want to hear to buy their product. Make sure you always make informed choices.
On the other hand, studies suggest that protein supplementation may help with building muscle and improving performance when there is enough training stimulus and the diet meets the individual's requirements in food intake.
Let's dig in and learn more about protein and when it's appropriate to supplement it.
What Does Protein Do for the Body?
Protein has shown an overall improvement in your physical activity and general health. It’s an essential nutrient that we typically get from food sources such as poultry, meat, seafood, eggs and dairy and certain plants, like pulses, grains and nuts. Ensuring your diet meets your protein requirement is beneficial in many different ways to your body.
Protein helps to build and repair muscles, which is why a protein shake is typically recommended before and/or after a workout. It helps to facilitate muscle repair which leads to muscles becoming more defined and larger.
However, protein can also help improve your immune system and keeps the body healthy while resisting many different types of illnesses, it doesn't only repair muscles, but is a building block of the majority of tissues in your body.
Lastly, protein also provides the body with the calories necessary to fuel our bodies and our everyday activities.
The Dangers of Protein Deficiency
Lacking any major nutrient is detrimental to your body, but protein is arguably one of the most important nutrients due to all of the bodily functions it assists with. If you feel like you have trouble losing weight or building muscle mass, then it could be related to insufficient protein intake.
Muscle and joint pains are also common when you have a protein deficiency, but it can also cause mood swings and lead to poor concentration. In short, lacking protein isn’t just about the physical issues you encounter – it can also affect your mental health.
Why Take Protein Supplements?
If you find it difficult to consume enough protein to facilitate your muscle gains or repair your body after stressful activities, then it’s a good idea to take supplements to fill the gaps. Of course, you’ll still need to eat some protein-rich foods like chicken or soy, but the idea is that eating enough protein can be difficult and it’s easier to take in supplement form so that it assists your diet, not replace it.
It’s a good idea to remember that it is possible to take too much protein, so make sure you take your macronutrients seriously by looking at how much you eat every day. Whether it’s from sources of food or supplements.
People who exercise daily and have a vigorous workout regimen can especially benefit from including protein supplements to their diet. Definitely not to replace any meals, but to boost their performance and aid muscle growth.
If your son or yourself are taking part in sports activities, play soccer or GAA, you may benefit from trying out a brand or two to figure out what works for you the best. The available flavours are also endless, so if you're worried about the taste, you have dozens of options.
When to Take Protein Supplements
In most cases, protein supplements are taken when you require extra protein. For instance, if you’re looking to build muscle after a tough resistance workout, then a protein shake is far more convenient than pulling out chicken and rice from your Tupperware, especially that the amino acids will get to your muscles far quicker from a shake.
Another example is when you're taking part in an endurance event that lasts longer than 2 hours, or you play in a tournament on multiple games within a day, protein shakes won't load your stomach and bowels as much and you can get a quick recovery to be ready for the next match.
Wrapping It Up
Not all protein shakes are created equal and depending on which brand you chose and why you use them they can be a great addition to your diet to support your sports performance, strength and muscle building goals.
Have you still got questions or you're afraid to start using it for your son, feel free to get in touch for personalised advice!
David Knowles is the owner, lead Coach & trainer, Dad x 5 & wannabe singer songwriter!