By Jeremy Bermel, Dissident Gym Wear Ambassador. Whey protein is the most popular supplement in the fitness industry. Protein in simple terms, feeds broken-down muscle units after exercise and rebuilds the muscle. The most important way to get the desired protein the body needs is through eating whole foods. Steak, chicken, dairy products and eggs are some of the most consumed whole foods people in the fitness industry consume. However, when it comes to desired goals, it can be difficult to consume enough whole foods to maintain and build muscle — this is where protein supplements come into play.
The questions then become — what protein supplements should be taken? How much? And when are the best times to consume them?
The three types of protein used in the fitness industry are whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolyzed isolate. Each have different properties and uses.
Whey concentrate, which is derived from the liquid portion of milk separated from curd, contains the essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Whey isolates are created by purifying the whey to get higher protein concentration. This process, however, eliminates some bioactive compounds. The main benefit of whey isolate is it is absorbed much faster than whey concentrate, feeds broken-down muscles and spikes insulin (which allows for constructive metabolism).
Whey concentrate takes much longer to absorb with little to no insulin spike. Sometimes casein protein (which is slow-delivering) is added and used for meal replacements or in-between meals.
Whey hydrolyzed isolates require a much more extensive process, where ceramic micro filtration units and enzymes are added to absorb quickly and replenish peptides lost by the denaturing process. This is an expensive whey protein, but is the highest quality protein found in the market.
A normal person should consume about .35 grams per pound of body weight. However, in the fitness world, a general rule of thumb is .8 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. There is no cap on what the body can absorb. Studies have shown 30-40% is the most, and others have shown the body will absorb as much as it needs.
In conclusion, whey protein is, and will always be, important within the fitness industry. With proper use, its benefits are great. Whey isolates and hydrolysates, are more rapidly-absorbed than whey concentrates and create a healthy spike in insulin. Whether this increased rate of absorption translates into any real-world advantage is arguable among experts. With that said, anyone seeking to limit rises in insulin may want to avoid whey isolates.
So, is your post-workout shake with 50 grams of protein a waste? In terms of repairing and building up your muscles, a shake with 30 grams of protein might be just as effective. But as long as you're not taking in more calories than you're burning each day, you shouldn’t worry. Your muscle growth is not limited by the amount of protein you can absorb, but by the amount of protein your body needs for protein synthesis. The body will absorb protein, but once the muscles are fed, the body will attempt to store it later as fat.
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