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Do I Really Need Protein Supplements to Build Muscles?

Protein Supplements for Muscle Building

Running, lifting weights, sweating, abs-workout, crunches and those hours of rigorous workout is something that I did religiously in the gym. My weight complemented my height, but I was a little lean. All I wanted was muscle gain and toned body. My gym instructor advised me to start protein supplement. After browsing a few articles online, and reading mixed reviews, I wondered - do I need protein supplements to build muscles?

Well, post consulting a couple of doctors the answer was - If your protein intake from daily food is adequate, you do not need protein supplements. But is it possible to get an adequate amount of protein per day from cooked meals? I decided to delve further and find answers to these questions.

My first and foremost question was –

How does the body use protein?

When protein is consumed, the body breaks it down into amino acids which are used for building tissues and replacing old cells. These amino acids cannot be produced by the body, and hence dietary intake is essential.

Why are protein supplements essential in the first place?

Protein powder helps in recovering from an injury, stimulate a workout routine and ones following a vegan or a vegetarian diet need it too.

How much protein does my body require?

As recommended by the UK government recommendations an adult needs 55g of dietary protein per day, but for building muscles, you need more than double. Experts advise 1.5-2g of protein intake per kilogram of bodyweight, which means a man of 80 kgs needs 64 gms protein daily, and a woman weighing 60 kgs needs 48 gms daily.

What happens if I do not consume enough proteins?

Dietary protein intake is essential. If you don’t take it, your body will cannibalize itself to find the needed amino acids. And if you consume a lot of protein, then you might end up in weight gain and gastric issues.

What are ideal sources of protein?

The list is extensive, but you can add the following things to your diet.
Salmon, Tuna, Cod-fishes, Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Tofu, Nut Butters, Pork, Eggs, Nuts, Beans, Chickpeas, etc.

Finally, the answer to my main question: Do you I need protein supplements to build muscles?
Well, my research revealed the following:

Muscle growth begins to diminish in adults after age 20. According to FAQs.org – World of Sports consuming particular protein supplements alone will not affect the size or strength of muscles. It will require routine exercise and strength training to promote muscle synthesis and development. Running and weightlifting significantly impact muscle development. The process of tearing down and restoring tissue – catabolism, and anabolism — builds muscle. Muscles develop when more synthesized protein is produced than consumed by them.

Muscles are made up of two types filaments called actin and myosin; both of which are proteins. These two proteins are made of amino acids linked together.  For muscle building these amino acids are essential, and the body cannot create it. Thus, it is vital to consume protein-rich food as mentioned above.

The ideal time to feed the muscles with these amino acids is post workout. But how many of us can have a protein-rich meal, right after we move out of the gym?

Protein Powder Experts Suggest the Following:

  1. 2-glasses of low-fat milk
  2. A lean meat sandwich
  3. Smoothie made with low-fat milk, yogurt, and banana
  4. Tuna and pasta

Dacres – Mannings (a spokesperson for Sports Dietitians Australia), states that you could spread your protein over the day, have three main meals and two or three protein snacks. By doing this, you would be able to optimize amino acid levels in the blood and promote both muscle repair and growth.

She also stated that:
If you’re keen to build some muscle, then before going for a protein supplement:

  1. Compare actual dietary protein intake with your intake for muscle building.
  2. Train sensibly, with a coach.
  3. Eat a protein and carbohydrate snack after a workout session.
  4. Spread protein intake through the day.
  5. Before using a supplement seek advice from a sports dietitian or a health professional.

I learned that nothing is better than solid and natural food. Taking protein powder has two primary advantages – Convenience and Affordability.

A couple of protein powder scoops in a shaker bottle with water can provide the body an instant dose of high protein that can be consumed anywhere and at any time.

When compared to solid food protein on a gram of gram basis protein powders are far more affordable. You can purchase protein powder for about 1/2 the price of meat, fish, chicken, nuts, etc.

A word from the fitness experts

Shannan Ponton – The Biggest Loser star, Nature’s Way brand ambassador – Protein is necessary to maintain lean muscle mass, helpful for both weight loss and optimum sports performance. Whey protein is the best and most efficient way to supplement.

Zoe Bingley-Pullin – nutritionist, IsoWhey brand nutritionist, co-host of Good Chef, Bad Chef – The market has some poor quality protein. Provided it’s incredibly great quality with vitamins and minerals, in a form that can be adequately absorbed by the body, I’m a fan of protein in helping to build muscle, lose weight, or to supplement the lack of protein in one’s diet.

Kara Landau – Dietician, author, corporate nutritionist – Natural varieties (without all the hidden nasties) can complement whole foods nutrient-dense diet; assisting people to feel full, shed fat mass, or gain lean muscle.

Jennifer Dodge – physiotherapist, The Office Athlete – Protein supplements are overused. The recommended dietary intake of protein for an average Joe has easily achieved through diet alone. For the ultra-fit, I see a place for protein supplements as their needs and total energy requirements are slightly higher.


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