If you’re trying to build muscle mass, you probably asked yourself, does protein powder work? When you’re trying to put on weight or build muscle, you inevitably bump into recommendations to up your protein intake. A lot of people do that with a variety of high-protein diets, but people who don’t want to eat meat and beans all day tend to turn to protein shakes or protein supplements. So, does it really help in building muscle? Here’s a look at that question as well as other frequently asked questions about protein-focused products.
Does Protein Powder Work? Know The Facts Here
In this article:
- What Is Protein Powder?
- Does Protein Powder Work?
- When Should You Increase Your Protein Intake?
- Do Protein Powders and Supplements Contain Complete Proteins?
- How Much Protein Do You Need?
- How Much Protein Is in Food?
- Can You Have Too Much Protein?
What Is Protein Powder?
Protein powder usually consists of whey, casein, or soy proteins. Whey is the part of milk that turns to a watery liquid when you’re making cheese and casein comes from the coagulated part of the milk that turns to curds. Soy, of course, comes from soybeans.
Whey protein tends to be the most common as it’s soluble in milk, making it ideal for protein-powdered milkshakes. However, vegans or people with dairy intolerances should opt for non-dairy alternatives like soy, rice, hemp, or pea protein.
Does Protein Powder Work?
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When people ask does protein powder work, the answer varies based on what they expect from the protein powder. If you simply need a convenient, easy to ingest extra protein, protein powders can be an ideal way to do that. However, if you’re using protein powder, protein shakes, or protein supplements to try to build muscle or for weight loss, the results vary based on your unique situation and the rest of your lifestyle.
To explain, protein powder is not a miracle cure. It can’t just build muscle on its own. You also need to pair your upped protein intake with weight lifting or other activities to develop your muscles. Similarly, if you load your shakes with lots of fatty ice cream, that may not be healthy either.
When Should You Increase Your Protein Intake?
There are key situations where protein powders can be really beneficial to your health and your diet. You may want to consider adding more protein to your diet if you’re doing any of the following activities:
- Growing — Teens who workout should especially consider protein powder or supplements. Often, these kids are doing adult-sized workouts, but their bodies are still growing so they need more protein in general.
- Starting a workout program — When you’re increasing your workouts, your body will burn more calories, and protein is an efficient way to replace those calories.
- Trying to build muscle — Protein really helps with building muscle.
- Recovering — When you’re recovering from a sports injury, in particular, your body needs to regenerate muscle tissue, and protein can fuel that process.
- Going Vegan —- It’s possible to get plenty of protein without animal-based products, but as you get used to the transition, you may want to supplement with protein powder.
Do Protein Powders and Supplements Contain Complete Proteins?
Generally, the majority of protein powders and supplements contain “complete proteins.” That means they contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs. In comparison, most animal proteins (meat, fish, etc) are complete proteins as well as some plants such as soybeans and quinoa. However, in some cases, you need to mix and match foods to get a complete protein — for instance, rice and beans is a popular example of two foods that work together to become a complete protein.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
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The amount of protein you need varies based on your weight, your weight loss or fitness goals, and other variables. On average, if you’re trying to maintain your weight, you need 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you need between 120 and 160 grams of protein per day. To build muscle, you may want to up that number — a common goal for bodybuilders is 1 gram of protein per body of weight, but some weightlifters go up to 2 grams per pound of body weight.
How Much Protein Is in Food?
To give you a sense of how much food you need to eat to hit your protein goals, take a look at this list:
- Hamburger Meat — 7.5 grams/ounce
- Lean Beef — 7 grams/ounce
- Canned Tuna — 6.7 grams/ounce
- A Piece of Cheddar Cheese — 7 grams/ounce
- Eggs — 6 grams/egg
- Almonds — 6 grams/ounce
- Chicken breast — 6 grams/ounce
- Oats — 13 grams/half cup
- Whole Milk — 8 grams/cup
- Broccoli — 3 grams/cup
In addition to looking at how much protein is in a certain food, you may want to look at the percentage of the total calories that come from protein. The higher the percentage, the more you are optimizing your protein intake.
Can You Have Too Much Protein?
The popularity of high-protein and paleo diets can make you think that protein is a cure-all. But, too much protein isn’t necessarily a good thing. If your body has too much protein, you may gain unwanted weight. Protein doesn’t automatically turn to muscle. If your body has more than it needs, it will store the extra protein as fat.
You should also consider what part of your diet you replace with the protein powder. In a 2016 study, researchers found that people tend to gain weight if they replace all their carbs with protein, but they don’t gain weight when they replace fats with protein.
Excess protein can also lead to constipation, bad breath, dehydration, and kidney damage. If you have any of those symptoms, you may be eating too much protein. Additional signs include feeling sluggish, never feeling hungry, and feeling burnt out toward protein shakes.
Does protein powder work? It actually depends on how you use it. Here’s a quick look at one of our products, Protein + Health:
Consumption of protein supplements to help meet one’s daily protein needs is certainly a viable and efficient option when compared to protein-rich real foods. To learn more, contact us at EverTrain. We offer quality supplements for real people.
Does taking whey protein help you with your workout? Share your experience with protein intake below!