My friends at the gym told me there are many different protein products with each one having more protein than others. I assume more protein is better. Should I be looking for the highest grams of protein per scoop or what? Is there a formula based on body weight? Can you provide guidance on how to select the best product? For health reasons I need to build muscle while at the same time control my weight. I spend 6-8 hours a week in the gym with cardio and weight workouts.
More is not always better. Anything more than about 50 grams of protein per meal is worthless since your body has a hard time assimilating more than this at one sitting. You will end up urinating the excess out which can put some stress on the kidneys and is costly since you’re basically wasting protein. Your diet should consist of:
- At least 5 meals per day.
- Eat every 2.5-3 hours throughout the day.
- Eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
- Include a lean protein source at every meal.
It’s important to remember that there are many different types of proteins to choose from depending on your specific goals. Some of the different types of protein include:
Whey Protein: This is a quick digesting and fast acting protein to use before and after your workouts since you want to get the protein into your system quickly to provide nutrients to your muscles. A great pre-workout meal would be 1 cup of oatmeal and 1 scoop of whey protein powder eaten about 30-45 minutes before a weight training workout. Mix everything together in a bowl with some water and microwave for about 2-3 minutes. The oatmeal gives you a great source of carbs which will provide you with energy to get you through your workout and the whey protein will get to your muscles quickly to provide nutrients to maintain lean muscle tissue. Post-workout is the important window of opportunity where you want to consume whey protein again to rush the nutrients to your muscles so they can recover and grow.
You also want a faster acting source of carbohydrates with your post-workout meal in order to spike insulin. Insulin is a transport hormone which will carry the carbs and refill your muscle glycogen levels and rush protein to your muscles. A good source of fast acting carbs is dextrose and maltodextrin. The ideal post-workout meal will actually be a shake since food will take too long to digest and your goal is to get these nutrients to your hard-working muscles that are screaming for them. A protein drink or shake is ideal post-workout since it gets to your muscles very quickly. Your post-workout shake will consist of 2 scoops of whey protein (40-50 grams of protein) along with 75-100 grams of fast acting carbs. Mix these two supplements into a shaker bottle and bring it to the gym with you. Right after your workout, drink this shake to guarantee your muscles receive the proper nutrients to recover and grow!
Here are a few high quality whey protein powders:
- Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder
- Jay Robb’s Whey Protein Powder
Casein Protein: This is a much slower acting protein source that is ideal to drink later at night around bedtime since your goal to provide your muscles with a slow and steady release of protein when you’re asleep. Casein is much slower absorbing from the stomach and small intestine which allows the blood amino acid levels not to rise quite as rapidly as they would if you were consuming whey protein. You can also take casein protein during the day for a rich source of slow acting protein but avoid drinking it immediately before or after your workouts since its not the ideal protein source for this time.
Egg Protein: This is one of the best forms of natural protein that is available with the highest biological value (BV). The biological value is the measurement of protein quality expressing the rate of efficiency with which protein is used for growth. The protein is contained in the egg white and not the yolk. Egg whites contain virtually zero fat and carbs which makes them a great low-calorie protein source to eat when your goal is to lose body fat and get lean. There are many great high protein meals that you can include egg whites with. These meals include egg white omelets, egg whites with toast and egg salad sandwiches (without the yolk).