Whether you are a guy or a girl, you have probably been told that you need whey protein powder to get the most out of a workout. And you are definitely not the only one in the gym using a protein powder supplement. Were you aware that, in 2017, 9.4 billion dollars was spent on whey protein worldwide?
So is protein powder assisting you to build muscle, or are you turning your money into dust? Let’s discuss how your body uses protein to build muscle and if protein shakes are helping you get the most out of strength training.
When it comes to increasing the size of any organ, the body only has two choices: either increasing the number of cells, called hyperplasia. Or you may make each cell larger, known as hypertrophy. When it comes to building up new muscle, your body can not build new muscle cells, which means that your body is based on muscle hypertrophy.
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So How Muscle Hypertrophy Work?
If you examine a muscle cell under a microscope, what you may see are long tubes of fibers running along the length of these cells. When a muscle cell assembles more of those protein fibers, it gets bigger and stronger.
To attain muscle hypertrophy, there is a very simple rule, Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) needs to outweigh Muscle Protein Breakdown(MPB). And to activate Muscle Protein Synthesis, you need two components: resistance training and protein in the diet. Don’t know which high protein foods to eat? Consider this article – 16 Unusual High Protein Foods You Should Eat
If your body does not get enough protein from your diet, it may not effectively activate muscle protein synthesis. And this is where the advice comes from to add protein to your diet, especially if you’re doing plenty of resistance training.
The majority of people living in high-income nations get enough protein from their routine body function diet. However, we know that protein needs are higher in people that are deliberately trying to accomplish muscle hypertrophy.
Does adding more protein in your diet help you with resistance training? Well, there have been numerous studies done on the subject! If only there were a meta-analysis that places all of the results together so that we can find the best answer possible.
Some Studies Done On Whey Protein Powder
Ah HAH! Found it! Released in 2017 at the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it’s the most extensive review up to now on whether protein supplementation contributes to gains in muscle mass and strength.
In that trials, nearly 2000 people were set on a resistance training program. The average protein intake before supplementation was approximately 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram each day. And 1.4 grams of protein is already the above dietory recommendation that is 0.8 grams kilogram per day.
The experimental group received an additional protein supplement of 36 g every day on average, with nearly half of the trials using whey protein. The management group most commonly obtained carbohydrate supplements to make sure that the total calories were just like the experimental group.
The typical resistance program was 13 weeks, with training sessions three times each week. Normally, each session had seven exercises, four sets per exercise, and nine repetitions per set. Well, protein supplementation enhanced strength, muscle size, and lean body mass. So you are not wasting your money after all.
Is There Any Catch?
Whey Protein Powder supplementation does lead to a benefit. BUT WAIT — there is a catch. First, there’s a point where adding more protein does not lead to more benefits. The researchers found that the advantage of protein supplementation plateaued after a total daily intake of 1.6 grams of protein per kilo each day. For someone weighing 70 kilos, that would indicate a whole protein intake, both from food and nutritional supplements, of 112 g every day.
The next thing: although protein supplementation did have a benefit, it is not quite as impressive as you might think. When it came to progress in power, participants who did not use a protein supplement increased their one-rep max by an average of 27 kilos through resistance training alone.
People who took whey protein powder gain the additional advantage of 2.49 kilos. To put it differently, protein supplementation contributed an additional advantage of just 9%. The investigators tell the story best: “the practice of Resistance Exercise Training is a much more potent stimulus for increasing muscle power compared to inclusion of dietary protein supplementation.”
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Should You Take Whey Protein Powder?
If you are a professional athlete where every last bit of strength counts, then yes, certainly maximize your protein intake. For serious athletes, a study recommends supplementing protein consumption to an upper limit of 2.2 g per kilo per day to get the most possible benefit from protein supplementation.
But if you are an ordinary person like me just trying to stay healthy, then protein shakes can help you a bit, but not as much as getting to the gym and actually doing the work.
In this article we have talked about only strength training and protein supplementation. But there are some other reasons why people use protein shakes:
- To improve protein intake without consuming more calories
- To suppress appetite
- Fast digesting protein
- For faster recovery of muscles
- Or aid in healing after cardio
If you’re you are interested in receiving specific advice about your specific situation and protein consumption, then I’d suggest seeing a sports dietician.
A frequent concern with a high protein diet is if there are any negative effects on your health. By way of instance, can a high protein diet trigger lead to worse acne, baldness, or even lead to kidney damage? To know everything about whey protein consider reading this article – Everything You Need To Know About Whey Protein