Muscle-building protein powder – questions and answers
September 22, 2022
Most people know protein is an essential part of our everyday nutrition. Along with the importance of eating our fruits and vegetables, getting our daily protein was drilled into us as children so we could grow up big and strong!
That’s because protein provides the building blocks for our bodies. It’s required for the growth, maintenance and repair throughout our bodies, including the building and maintaining of lean muscle, even as we age.
“Dietary protein is an essential macronutrient for maintenance of lean body mass and overall health in individuals of all ages,” said Marissa Arterburn, a research scientist working on Nutrilite™ and XS™ products. “Adequate protein intake is critical to maintain the protein content of certain tissues and organs, including the skin, brain, heart and liver, while also promoting skeletal muscle growth and strength.”
The fact that protein benefits muscle gain is why many people looking to tone up or even add a little bulk often increase the amount of protein in their diets, either through food choices or protein powder.
Protein provides us with amino acids, which our bodies use to strengthen, repair and grow muscles. Nine essential amino acids our bodies need only come from the food we eat, which is why it’s important to make sure protein is part of our daily diet.
When we exercise, we are actually damaging our muscles. The protein we eat sends amino acids to repair that damage and strengthen the area through building more muscle. If we don’t have enough protein with those essential amino acids, the repair and growth can’t happen.
In fact, if you don’t get enough protein in your diet, you can actually lose some of your existing muscle. That’s why many people looking to build muscle consider supplementing their diet with protein.
There are plenty of sources of protein out there – meat, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, legumes and soy-based products are the common ones. Many fruits and vegetables also have protein. But there is also a wide array of protein powders designed to make getting your targeted protein intake easy and efficient. Some are even marketed as muscle-building protein powder.
But does protein powder help build muscle like whole foods do? Studies show that for those who regularly practice resistance training, supplementing their diet with added protein can enhance muscle strength and growth, whether that protein was consumed through whole foods or supplements like muscle-building protein powders.
So, what does protein do for muscles? It helps repair and build them. But is there a better time to consume it than others? Actually, yes! When you eat or drink protein within the first 30-45 minutes following your workout, it’s helping to fuel your body’s recovery.
That’s known as the anabolic window, the span of time after you exercise when your muscles start the repairing and recovering process. Providing your body with a fresh supply of protein during that window sends an ample amount of amino acids to your muscles to not only repair and recover, but also build more muscle mass, setting the stage for your next workout.
That’s when many people turn to convenient protein options like protein bars, protein shakes or muscle-building protein powders.
“Protein powder is an easily digestible and a convenient way of providing muscles the recovery fuel they need post-workout,” Arterburn said. “Adequate protein intake, including high quality protein intake like whey protein powder, is critical for building and maintaining lean body mass.”
With so many protein options out there, how do you choose which one is best to fuel your recovery after working out? Drinks made with protein powders are a popular post-workout recovery option, but which is the best protein powder for muscle gain?
There are two main types of animal-based protein that are beneficial after a workout: whey and casein protein. Both are milk products, but they have different benefits for your body.
Casein protein is digested slowly, allowing a steady release of muscle-building proteins over time. It also stays in your system longer, which can help to preserve your muscle.
Whey protein works faster than casein and is preferable if you’re looking to build some muscle. It can be quickly absorbed by your body and is effective right after a workout to help your body recover and builds muscle mass.
“Whey protein is high quality, easily digested and contains all nine essential amino acids, including the highest concentration of the branched-chain amino acid Leucine, which plays a significant role in promoting muscle growth and recovery,” Arterburn said. “Whey protein isolate specifically has the added benefit of possessing a higher protein content than concentrate while offering less carbs, lactose and fat.”
XS™ Sports Protein Shakes contain 25 grams of both whey and casein proteins per serving. They help build and maintain lean muscle mass. For vegetarians or vegans, plant-based options might be the best protein powder for muscle gain. Just make sure it has all nine essential amino acids, like Nutrilite Organics Plant Protein Powder. It has 21 grams of plant protein, is USDA certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.
It’s the age-old question. Can you have too much of a good thing? Sure, protein is good for you, but can you eat too much protein? Like with most things, moderation is key.
The general recommended protein intake is .83 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or about .35 grams per pound), but people who want to increase muscle mass through physical activity and resistance training should increase that amount. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.5-0.8 grams per pound).
Researchers are studying what can happen if you go beyond that amount. “It’s important for individuals with certain chronic health conditions to discuss diet and supplemental protein intake and sources with their personal physician,” Arterburn said.
Another thing to consider is what you may be missing out on as more of your diet comes from protein. Are you getting enough carbs, healthy fats and other vitamins and minerals?
Remember, a key part of optimal health is getting a wide variety of nutrients and you need to start with optimal health if you want to build more muscle.
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