Monday, October 20, 2008

Don't be fooled by protein gimmicks

Save money by sticking to the basics
Colin Kennedy
The Daily Evergreen

With the increasing popularity of health supplements, particularly weightlifting supplements, there seems to be an increasing lack of clarity as to what some actually contain. While protein powders originally started as just that, popular protein supplements are now advertised as containing numerous ingredients that will cause “muscle-bursting pumps” and many other fancy promises that may not mean much to the average consumer.

The label of the popular Nitro-Tech protein formula advertises that the product contains “ultra-absorption of nanoparticulated amino acid peptides.” Oh, yeah – those. I once had a buddy tell me I need to try the protein blend he was using because its label claimed that it “alters your DNA.” What does that even mean? Is this a promise to build some muscle, or a suggestion that I could sprout a third arm and get prostate cancer if I use the product?

Supplement manufacturers tend to exaggerate the benefits of the miraculous compounds they mix into their protein blends. Such marketing allows them to sell these products at much higher prices. However, a general knowledge of the various kinds of protein beneficial to muscle gain can allow one to purchase the right products without spending too much extra cash.

The two primary types of protein critical to the lifter’s arsenal are whey protein and casein protein. Whey protein is derived from milk and is the fast-absorbing protein, making it ideal for consumption immediately after a workout. It also contains most of the protein in common supplements.

Most bodybuilding sources recommend taking 20 to 40 grams of whey protein within an hour of lifting weights, as timely protein uptake is critical for muscle repair. Many bodybuilders will have a scoop of whey prior to their workout, as well, to prevent muscle fatigue. Additionally, whey protein is beneficial in the morning because it allows for fast absorption after your muscles have been starved of any protein for eight hours.

Casein protein also can be critical in achieving muscle gain, but is less used by weightlifters. Casein is the slow-digesting protein, making it optimal for consumption before bed. According to, casein protein forms a gel when it reaches the stomach and can take more than twice as long to digest than whey protein. When you go to sleep, your body will be starved until breakfast, so a slowly-released protein is ideal to feed your muscles throughout the night.
In addition to powder supplements, casein protein can be found in various food products. For example, according to Men’s Health magazine, cottage cheese is an excellent source of casein that can allow one to feel full for a longer period of time.

Don’t want to spend the bucks on two different proteins? Many supplements offer whey-casein combinations, which are also beneficial for shakes.

When purchasing a protein supplement, try not to focus on the countless enzymes and miracle compounds advertised on the label. Identifying the specific type of protein in the supplement can ensure you are feeding your body at the proper times and can end up saving you some cash.

No comments: