Between all the bodybuilding supplements, whey protein is certainly the most popular. It's the supplement that sooner or later, everyone that works out seriously will try.
Proteins are the most important nutrient for people that want to gain muscle mass, because they are the muscle building bricks, and they have to be consumed in certain quantities to allow the growth.
A "normal" person needs something like 0.5 g of protein per pound of body weight to maintain his/her muscle mass, but...
To build more muscle you need to consume about 1 g of protein for each pound of body weight
That means that depending on your weight you are required to consume more or less protein with your diet, and sometimes this can be challenging. For example:
150 lbs = 150 g of protein
If you're trying to build muscle this is something to keep in mind, but can you do that?
Do You Consume Enough Protein?
Let me tell you, for how much I try, I can't eat enough lean meat or other foods rich in protein to provide me the necessary amount that I need.
I just can't.
My lifestyle doesn't allow me to follow a strict diet.
I have four kids (5th one is due in May 2013) and a busy life...and it's so hard to be able to eat what I want or what I should.
I'd have to eat a bunch of chicken breast, turkey, tuna fish etc. etc. every day, but it's just not possible for me.
Sometimes I come home and we forgot to take the meat out of the freezer, sometimes we're all tired and we just made a quick pasta dinner...
For lunch I just eat a rich sandwich at the office where I work, or some left over.
I couldn't keep up with my requirements just by eating the food I eat.
No? Then Whey Protein Supplements Can Help!
If you're like me, you have to find a way to eat your...let's say 150 g of protein EVERY day!
I would get stomach sick of eating all that stuff, I would give up soon and forget my dream of building a nice looking physique.
That's why I take supplements regularly.
I wrote an article to answer the question "what is whey protein" where I explain how whey is produced and how it acts.
All you need to know for the moment is that whey protein:
- Is known as a "fast protein" because of the quick digestion
- Is produced during the cheese creation process
- Should be taken immediately before or after workout, when you need proteins available immediately to start recovering
How to Take Protein Supplements
I've heard different point of views about this topic, but from what I could experience, the best practice is to take your whey protein shake right after workout.
During workout you basically stress and "break" the muscle tissues, and as soon as you stop you workout your body starts the recovery process to heal the muscle and grow it bigger.
That's when your body is looking for available proteins.
The best whey to provide them is by taking your protein shake with water, because water is fast to digest.
If you take your protein powder with milk you slow down the process, in fact milk takes a little while to be digested.
One way or the other, you have to provide proteins soon to avoid the catabolic state.
After workout you should definitely prefer whey over casein protein, which is another type with a different purpose.
Prefer casein protein between meals and before bedtime, when it's more convenient to release proteins slowly.
How to Choose Whey Protein
Now this is tricky and confusing at the same time.
We understand that we need more proteins that regular people, and we realize that with our diet we simply can't get enough (if you do...then get out of here, there are many other interesting things I talk about in this site hehe!).
The big question is: which one do I choose?
During the past years I tried many different brands, and finally I stick to a restricted group.
I wrote an article to help you choose the best protein powders available, based on taste, nutrition facts, quality and price.
Give it a read, I hope that my reviews will help you choose.
Take Enough Protein, Not Too Much
Like for everything, there is a difference between use and abuse.
If the use is beneficial to grow muscle, then abuse is dangerous for your body and metabolism.
Yes, there are some whey protein side effects that you should be aware of, like:
- Kidney stones
- Stress on the liver
- Intestinal irritation
- Lactose intolerance
Note that I didn't include protein baldness side effects!
Take everything with moderation, especially bodybuilding supplements. It's really not worth it to get sick and face those side effects just to build muscle faster!
Remember this: whey protein is a supplement, so your daily protein intake should come mostly from food. As a supplement protein powders should be taken only when you can't consume enough with your food.