What is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a highly processed form of protein. There are many varieties of protein powders - egg, whey, casein, milk, soy, rice, pea based (and so on), all of which are derived from different sources, or have undergone different processes. The most commonly recommended protein powder when aiming to build muscle is whey protein powder. Let's discuss whey protein powder in more detail.
Whey protein powder is milk derived. Milk is naturally around 20% whey and 80% casein. The concept behind supplementing with a whey based protein shake is as follows:
- Whey protein is the best quality protein available
- Whey protein is absorbed very quickly
The quality of the protein that you consume is extremely important when you are seeking to build muscle. The greater the quality (measured by "biological value", or the degree to which your body can utilise these proteins for biological function), the better the protein is going to be to build muscle.
The rate of absorption is also critical before and after your workout. Following an intense workout, your body requires a readily available source of amino acids in order to repair damaged muscle tissue and begin synthesising new tissues. Amino acids are the constituents of proteins, so it is important to have an available source at your body's disposal.
Whole-food proteins cannot be absorbed anywhere nearly as quickly as whey proteins found in supplements - hence why whey protein powder can be an effective tool.
Does Protein Powder Work?
Coming back to the original question, it is important to understand that protein powder isn't a "special" supplement that will replace everything else in your fridge. Nor is it something that "does" or "doesn't" work in isolation. Rather, it is a tool used to enhance your results, in conjunction with an effective training regime, a good nutritional approach and proper recovery.
It is important to never, without exception, view a supplement as "the holy grail" of accomplishing a particular goal. In this instance, it is important not to assume that with the inclusion of protein powder in your regime, you can expect to bulk up with minimal effort. Building muscle in any substantial amount is the result of a long-term and dedicated approach to your training and lifestyle in general.
The addition of a protein powder to a poorly constructed lifestyle in regards to muscle gain will not be advantageous. For example, if you regularly consume junk food, train inconsistently, drink alcohol regularly and do not sleep properly, forget about having a protein powder after your workout. In all honesty, it will be a complete waste of your money. You would obtain far more benefit by eliminating the junk food and alcohol, sleeping well and establishing a structured approach to training.
Meanwhile, if you are dedicated to accomplishing a muscle building goal in all aspects of your lifestyle and wish to give your body every opportunity to build muscle, a protein powder would be right up your alley. Supplementing with a protein shake would significantly boost your results by encouraging maximum muscle development following your workout and during the remainder of the day. There is an overwhelming amount of scientific literature to support this notion, which has been referenced extensively on this website.
There are two primary options for pre/post workout supplementation that you should consider - Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Whey Protein Isolate/Concentrate blend (WPI/WPC). The Whey Protein Isolate is a slightly faster absorbing protein powder. However due to the additional manufacturing involved, the WPI is slightly more expensive than the WPI/WPC.
I do hope that this short article sheds some light on the topic of "Does Protein Powder Work?". Good luck with your muscle building goals!