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Supplements

  • When Do You Need BCAAs?

    There are literally thousands of different supplements on the market -- many of which are advertised to make a world of difference when it comes to your training.

    But let's face it, not all of them can be that good.

    In fact, this was the reason Amino Z was started in the first place -- to offer useful scientifically supported supplements at a wholesale price point.

    And one supplement that has become increasingly common in the health and fitness industry are Branched Chain Amino Acids (or BCAAs for short).

    But are they really that useful? And when should you take them?

    What are BCAAs?

    As I have already mentioned, BCAA is short for ‘branched chain amino acid’ – which is a unique type of “amino acid”.

    Just to provide a little background, amino acids are described as the building blocks of the human body. They are the little compounds your body uses to make every single protein molecule it needs.

    In essence, anything in your body that has a physical structure is made from amino acids -- and yes, this includes muscle tissue.

    Building on this a little further, there are two different types of Amino acids: “essential amino acids” and “non-essential amino acids”.

    Non-essential amino acids are considered as such because your body has the capacity to make them, meaning they do NOT have to be consumed through diet. Alternatively, those that are considered essential cannot be made in your body, and MUST be consumed through diet.

    BCAAs are categorised as “essential” and therefore must come from external sources.

    I should note that of the 9 essential amino acids your body needs, three of them are BCAAs -- being leucine, isoleucine, and valine

    Interestingly, although there are only three of them, BCAAs make up about 35% of the muscle protein in your body. And it appears to be for this reason that when they are consumed, they stimulate the production of new muscle tissue.

    Which explains why they are one of the most commonly recommended supplements on the planet.

    What are the Benefits of BCAAs?

    Given that BCAAs boost muscle protein synthesis (the production of new muscle tissue), there is mechanistic rationale to believe that they can have some serious benefits for your -- but is this really the case?

    BCAAs and Muscle Growth

    As one would expect, because of their ability to increase muscle protein synthesis, there is evidence to suggest that they can also enhance muscle growth.

    In fact, one study demonstrated that, when combined with a progressive resistance training routine, those who supplement with BCAAs after training observe greater improvements in strength and muscle size than those who do not [1].

    All of which explains why BCAAs are one of the most commonly used supplements among bodybuilders and weekend warriors alike.

    BCAAs for Muscle Retention

    Some people like to suggest that BCAAs can help promote fat loss during a cutting phase -- but this is not really the case.

    However, they do appear to be very useful when it comes to muscle retention, by slowing down the rate your body breaks down muscle tissue during prolonged periods of energy deficit.

    See, when you undertake a weight loss phase, the primary goal is to lose fat. However, this will also come with some associated loss of muscle tissue (it is an unavoidable side effect of being in a calorie deficit). Over the duration of a training phase, this loss of muscle can negatively impact your metabolism, which makes losing fat harder in the future.

    This also has some negative implications for your physique, in which you end up looking smaller after your cut.

    But taking BCAA supplements while you workout during a cut seems to mitigate the muscle loss that so often occurs when you lose weight [2]. This can keep your metabolism high, while making sure you don't lose any of your hard earned muscle in the process.

    BCAAs and post-exercise recovery

    BCAAs increase muscle protein synthesis, all while simultaneously preventing the breakdown of muscle tissue -- which has obvious implications for muscle growth and retention.

    Importantly, this also has an impact on post-training recovery.

    Evidence has shown that  supplementing with BCAAs around your workout leads to reductions in muscle soreness after training. This also appears to occur with improved gym performance during any training sessions that occur over the next couple of days [3].

    In the short term, this obviously has you feeling better -- but that's not really the biggest benefit.

    If you can perform better every single workout, this will compound over the course of a training block. Over time, this could conceivably cause much greater improvements in strength and muscle growth than you would observe otherwise.

    When do you need BCAAs?

    Now, something that I really want to hammer home is the fact that when it comes to optimizing muscle growth and recovery, the most important factor appears to be your total daily protein intake [4].

    In short, if you are eating adequate protein (1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day), then it is highly likely that you are maximising muscle growth and recovery without the need for BCAAs. This is going to be especially true if you consume a lot of animal protein because it is already relatively high in BCAA content (remember, BCAAs make up a lot of muscle tíssue).

    With this in mind, if you are in a calorie deficit (i.e. a cutting phase) and struggling to hit your protein requirements OR eat a lower protein diet (vegetarians and vegans come to mind here), then BCAAs are probably going to be really useful.

    Similarly, if you like to train early in the morning under fasted conditions, taking a BCAA supplement before training could offer some serious benefit.

    However, when you are training in a fed state and on days where you are hitting your protein requirements, they are not really necessary.

    This does not mean that you should not take them (I mean, why not cover all your bases), just that they are unlikely to have a huge impact.

    How should you take BCAAs?

    One thing that doesn't get spoken about often enough is when and how you should take your BCAAs.

    Which is what I plan to cover.

    Some of the evidence outlined in this article appears to show better results if you take them both before and after training. Within this, you want to try and have them between 30 and 60 minutes either side of your workout.

    Doing so ultimately ensures that you have BCAAs readily available for muscle repair and recovery both during and after your workout -- which is key.

    And when it comes to dose, the primary recommendation that appears within the published research is to obtain an intake of 200mg per kilogram of bodyweight. This means that if you weigh 80kg, you want to strive for 16 grams of BCAAs spread around your workout (i.e. 8 grams before, and 8 grams after).

    Do BCAAs Have any Side Effects?

    As far as safety goes, BCAAs are arguably one of the most well-tolerated supplements on the market. In fact, research has shown that even taking high doses of up to 35 grams per day appears to have no really negative effects.

    However, some people do experience side effects if they exceed this dose, which can include:

    • Stomach discomfort
    • Impaired exercise performance
    • Worsened recovery after exercise

    But let's face it -- you really should have no reason to exceed 35 grams per day.

    Final Message

    Evidence suggests that BCAAs can boost muscle growth, increase strength, aid with muscle retention during a cut, and enhance recovery after training.

    While BCAAs are not necessary if you are already eating adequate amounts of protein, they can be very beneficial if you train in a fasted state, struggle to hit your protein requirements, or simply want to ensure you are maximising muscle protein synthesis around your workouts.

    Within this, they may offer even greater benefit for people who do not eat much animal protein, and struggle to get BCAAs into their diet naturally.

     

    References

    1. Stoppani, Jim, et al. "Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6.1 (2009): 1-2.
    2. Mourier, A., et al. "Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers." International journal of sports medicine 18.01 (1997): 47-55.
    3. Osmond, Adam D., et al. "The Effects of Leucine-Enriched Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Recovery After High-Intensity Resistance Exercise." International journal of sports physiology and performance 14.8 (2019): 1081-1088.
    4. Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. "Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?." Journal of the international society of sports nutrition 10.1 (2013): 5.

     

  • D-Aspartic Acid: The Ultimate Guide

    If your goal is to build muscle, gain strength, and lose a little fat in the process, then it should come as no surprise that training and diet is key.

    However, once your workout regime and eating habits are in check, there is absolutely no reason you should not look towards supplements for an extra boost.

    And one supplement that has been increasing in popularity over the last decade is D-Aspartic acid (or DAA for short).

    What is D-Aspartic acid?

    DAA is a specific type of amino acid found in small amounts throughout your body.

    While it plays a hand in numerous physiological processes, it appears to be particularly important when it comes to your neuroendocrine system -- where it promotes the production of growth factors and anabolic hormones.

    In fact, evidence suggests that DAA triggers the synthesis and secretion of insulin-like growth factor 1 (or IGF-1, for short), human growth hormone, and testosterone. All of which are incredibly important when it comes to training related outcomes (but more on that later).

    Now, it is important to note that while DAA can be found within your body, it is only synthesised in small amounts, suggesting that consuming extra may provide some additional benefits.

    With this in mind, you can obtain small amounts of DAA in foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, red meat, poultry, and fish -- however, when I small, I really do mean small -- like, negligible amounts.

    Which is why supplementing with DAA is a much more feasible option.

    What are the benefits of D-aspartic acid?

    I have already alluded to the fact that DAA has important implications for your neuroendocrine system -- which is also where DAA supplements provide their benefits.

    1.    D-aspartic acid boosts testosterone

    When I first introduced you to DAA, I outlined its role regarding testosterone production. As a result, it makes sense from a mechanistic perspective that its supplementation would subsequently boost testosterone -- and there is research suggesting that this is the case.

    In fact, multiple studies have shown that when men supplement with DAA for 12 day straight, they will see an increase in their free testosterone levels (a measure of how much testosterone is in your blood) [1, 2].

    However, it is important to note that these studies were conducted in men who already had been diagnosed with low testosterone. Additional research on DAA supplements in men with naturally higher testosterone levels was shown to cause no change [3].

    This suggests that DAA has the potential to boost testosterone if your levels are on the lower side. And if they are on the higher side, then it may not have any effect.

    2.    D-aspartic acid makes you more anabolic

    When you are talking about hormones, you can very loosely organise them into two categories -- being anabolic and catabolic.

    Testosterone is an extremely anabolic hormone because it promotes the development of new tissue. This can include muscle tissue, connective tissue (ligaments and tendons), bone tissue, and even organ tissue.

    For you regular gym goers, testosterone is great because it facilitates muscle growth.

    Conversely, catabolic hormones break down your body's tissues for energy. This means that if your goal is to build muscle, you want to keep catabolic hormones as low as you possibly can.

    Cortisone is a highly catabolic hormone because it increases inflammation and promotes the breakdown of protein in your body. Similarly, while estrogen does not directly break down tissue, it can mitigate the action of testosterone -- and could therefore also be considered more catabolic in nature.

    Fortunately, some research has shown that supplementing with DAA can reduce the section of both estrogen and cortisone [4].

    This combination of factors may therefore create a more anabolic environment in your body, facilitating muscle growth -- however there are currently no long term studies demonstrating this with certainty.

    3.    D-aspartic acid enhances your performance

    Lastly, supplementing with DAA may also have the capacity to boost your gym performance.

    When compared to a placebo, DAA supplements have been shown to cause significant improvements in muscle strength and power immediately after consumption [5, 6]. While these studies were only over a short timeframe, they do indicate that DAA may increase your performance in the gym.

    If this improved performance leads to you putting more weight on the bar or performing repetitions, then there is reason to believe that it could also lead to increases in muscle growth and strength over time.

    Again, more long term training studies are needed to demonstrate this with certainty, but early signs are promising.

    How to supplement D-aspartic acid

    Taking the above into consideration, it appears that supplementing with DAA could have some unique benefits with regards to both muscle growth and improvements in strength -- but how should you take it?

    Most of the research demonstrating the positive effects of DAA supplementation has used dosages of 3 grams per day. They also tend to “cycle off” DAA every two weeks to ensure your body does not build up a tolerance.

    This means that your best bet is to take 3 grams of DAA per day (any time of the day is fine) for two weeks, followed by 5-6 days of no supplementation. You can then repeat this cycle as often as you like.

    Can you take too much D-aspartic acid?

    It is also important to note that when it comes to DAA, more is not better. One of the research studies mentioned above also explored the differences between supplementing with 3 and 6 grams of DAA per day [6] -- and the results were interesting to say the least.

    Because the participants were healthy young males, their testosterone levels were relatively high. As a result, the group taking 3 grams of DAA per day did not see any change.

    But the 6 gram group?

    Well their testosterone levels actually decreased.

    It was thought that the higher dose of DAA may have impacted upon the hormonal system in a negative manner, or even accumulated in the testes -- both of which would have caused a disruption to testosterone production.

    All of which indicates that you should not take more than 3 grams of DAA per day.

    D-aspartic acid side effects

    DAA supplements have been shown to be extremely safe. In fact, research would indicate that if you are taking your DAA supplement recommended dosages, and cycling off at regular intervals, you will be very unlikely to have any serious side effects.

    However, we should note that some individual participants have reported some small side effects during supplementation, including:

    • Slight irritability
    • More regular headaches
    • Mild anxiousness
    • Mood swings

    Conversely, some participants also reported experiencing increased libido and heightened energy levels -- suggesting that these responses are rare and highly individual.

    Key Points

    D-aspartic acid has been shown to increase testosterone production, while simultaneously reducing cortisone and estrogen secretion. While this effect is more pronounced in individuals with low testosterone levels, it does suggest the capacity to create an anabolic environment that could increase muscle growth.

    And when this is combined with observed improvements in strength and power, the benefits of D-aspartic acid become apparent.

    It is important to remember that if you choose to supplement with DAA, sticking to the recommended dosage of 3 grams per day is paramount, as too much can have negative effects.

     

    References

    1. Topo, Enza, et al. "The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats." Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 7.1 (2009): 120.
    2. D’Aniello, Gemma, et al. "d-Aspartate, a key element for the improvement of sperm quality." Advances in Sexual Medicine 2.04 (2012): 45.
    3. Willoughby, Darryn S., and Brian Leutholtz. "D-Aspartic acid supplementation combined with 28 days of heavy resistance training has no effect on body composition, muscle strength, and serum hormones associated with the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in resistance-trained men." Nutrition research 33.10 (2013): 803-810.
    4. Falcone, Paul H., et al. "Consumption of a testosterone-boosting supplement is safe and lowers estrogen and cortisol levels." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 47.5S (2015): 338.
    5. LaMacchia, Zach, et al. "Acute D-Aspartic Acid Supplementation does not have an Effect on Serum Testosterone but does have an Effect on Strength Measures in College Aged Male Athletes." European Journal of Sports & Exercise Science 5.3 (2017): 34-41.
    6. Melville, Geoffrey William. Effects of d-aspartic acid on testosterone and training outcomes in a resistance trained population: findings from an acute dosing study, and a three-month training study. Dissertation. Western Sydney University (Australia), 2016.
  • The Benefits of Supplementing with Matcha Tea

    Supplements have become synonymous with the gym lifestyle. Elite athletes, top level bodybuilders, and weekend warriors alike all take a variety of supplements to boost their health and training results.

    And when you think about these supplements, what comes to mind?  Protein, creatine, multi-vitamins, and pre-workouts, right?

    AKA the big ones.

    Well, you might want to add matcha green tea powder to that list -- and here's why.

    What is Matcha Tea Powder?

    Matcha tea is a specific type of green tea.

    Where it differentiates itself from normal green tea is in both its production and consumption. Rather than coming in whole leaf form, matcha tea is made by taking young green tea leaves and grinding them up into a power.

    You then add this powder to water, and drink it.

    Simple.

    I should also note that the tea leaves used to make matcha powder are grown differently to traditional tea leaves. Rather than being exposed to sunlight right up until picking time, they are completely covered by a shade about a month beforehand.

    While this may sound like a strange thing to do, it is actually quite important.

    When tea plants get limited exposure to sunlight, they naturally increase their chlorophyll production. This in turn increases the amino acid content of the plant -- boosting the health and performance benefits associated with its consumption.

    Matcha Tea Powder Benefits?

    Like green tea, matcha tea powder has a myriad of positive effects on the human body. While many of these effects are somewhat similar to green tea, they are arguably more pronounced as those key beneficial compounds are found in higher doses in matcha tea.

    So, what are the benefits of matcha tea powder?

    1.    Matcha Tea Powder Boosts Energy

    There is some compelling research demonstrating that supplementing with matcha tea can enhance mood, boost cognitive function, and increase energy [1].

    And there is a very good reason for this.

    Firstly, matcha tea contains caffeine. While it may not contain as much as coffee, it does provide enough to cause an increase in attention, focus, and mental clarity -- all of which create a notable “energy boosting” sensation.

    Secondly, it also contains an amino acid known as l-theanine. Like caffeine, this unique compound has been shown to increase sensations of mood and mental acuity. However, it concurrently mitigates the hyperactive “jittery” effects that come with caffeine.

    This means more energy, with no negative effects -- which can lead to much more productive workouts.

    2.    Matcha Tea Powder Aids Fat Loss

    I am generally skeptical of fat burning supplements. Although they promise the world, take a quick look at the back of their packaging and you will quickly realise that most of their ingredients have no research to support them at all.

    However, this is not the case for ALL of their ingredients -- especially when it comes to green tea extract (which is arguably the most common fat burning ingredient on the planet) [2].

    And the same can be said for matcha tea powder.

    As I stated above, matcha tea contains caffeine, which causes an immediate increase in energy expenditure after consumption. Moreover, it also contains a number of potent antioxidants that have been shown to promote fat metabolism -- which describes the process of breaking down fat for energy.

    With this in mind, matcha tea not only helps you burn more energy, but also makes sure that more of that energy is derived from fat. When combined with an appropriate diet, matcha tea can be the perfect compliment to a cutting phase.

    3.    Matcha Tea Powder Enhances Mental Health

    In addition to the benefits that l-theanine has on mental performance, it has also been shown to have a significant impact on mental health.

    A recent study demonstrated that supplementing with l-theanine over a four week period can cause marked improvements in emotional wellbeing, in conjunction with reductions in stress, and symptoms of depression and anxiety  [3]

    This provides some strong evidence to support the use of matcha tea powder to enhance your mental and emotional wellbeing.

    4.    Matcha Tea Powder Could Help You Live Longer

    A vast number of the antioxidant compounds found in green tea leaves are known to help regular blood sugar and improve cardiovascular health -- which is why it is often recommended for the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.

    And this appears to carry over to life expectancy [4].

    While the research is only observational in nature, it has been shown that people who consume a greater amount of green tea products live longer than those who do not consume any at all.

    Although this won't get you jacked, it could keep you in the gym for longer -- which is pretty cool if you ask me.

    5.    Matcha Tea Powder Improves Exercise Performance

    Last but not least, we have the big one -- exercise performance.

    Early in this article I discussed the fact that many of the polyphenols found in green tea leaves increase fat metabolism. And although i predominantly spoke about this from a body composition perspective, it may also influence your performance.

    See, when it comes to lower intensity endurance performance, fat is your main source of energy. This means that by increasing your access to fat, matcha tea has the capacity to improve your endurance [5, 6].

    While this has obvious benefits for those of you who have endurance related goals, it may also allow you to compete more work (AKA sets and reps) in the gym. Over time, this could contribute to increased muscle growth.

    Furthermore, because matcha tea powder contains caffeine, it will improve your strength and power acutely. This means more reps performed per set, or more weight on the bar [7] -- which again, could promote extra strength and growth over the duration of a training block.

    Does Matcha Tea Powder Have any Side Effects?

    As far as supplements go, matcha tea powder is incredibly safe.

    However, there are a couple of things that do need to be considered.

    While many of the natural compounds found within the tea leaves appear to be well tolerated in even the highest of doses, matcha tea does contain caffeine. As such, it's over consumption may lead to headaches, jitteriness, and irritability.

    Although, this is only going to occur if you consume a lot.

    Secondly, some matcha tea powders contain fluoride and lead. These compounds are absorbed through the soil by the plant. Obviously the consumption of these can lead to some nasty health implications -- which is a concern.

    As a result, you need to pay close attention to where your matcha powder is sourced. As with most things, some matcha tea powder is much better quality than others, and you can assume those that are better are going to contain less (or none) of these nasty compounds.

    Final Message

    Matcha tea powder is derived from dried green tea leaves. As a result, it contains an abundance of compounds that have been shown to improve mental and cardiovascular health, blood sugar management, and even longevity.

    Moreover, it has also been shown to promote fat metabolism and boost exercise performance -- suggesting that it may be a very useful supplement for weekend warriors and athletes alike.

    Just make sure that when you are choosing your matcha tea powder, you get it from a reputable source (like Amino Z, for example…)

    References

    1. Dietz, Christina, Matthijs Dekker, and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman. "An intervention study on the effect of matcha tea, in drink and snack bar formats, on mood and cognitive performance." Food research international 99 (2017): 72-83.
    2. Venables, Michelle C., et al. "Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans." The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.3 (2008): 778-784.
    3. Hidese, Shinsuke, et al. "Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Nutrients 11.10 (2019): 2362.
    4. Zhao, Long-Gang, et al. "Green tea consumption and cause-specific mortality: Results from two prospective cohort studies in China." Journal of epidemiology 27.1 (2017): 36-41.
    5. Richards, Jennifer C., et al. "Epigallocatechin-3-gallate increases maximal oxygen uptake in adult humans." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 42.4 (2010): 739.
    6. Willems, Mark Elisabeth Theodorus, Mehmet Akif ?ahin, and Matthew David Cook. "Matcha green tea drinks enhance fat oxidation during brisk walking in females." International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 28.5 (2018): 536-541.
    7. Grgic, Jozo, et al. "The influence of caffeine supplementation on resistance exercise: A review." Sports Medicine 49.1 (2019): 17-30.

     

  • WPI vs. WPC: What you need to know

    Protein supplements are some of the most beneficial on the planet. While they may not be ‘sexy’ like pre-workouts and creatine, they are arguably more important.

    See, every time you train in the gym you place your body under stress. And this stress tells your body that it needs to build more muscle tissue to ensure that it can better tolerate that stress in the future.

    And what is required to build that new muscle?

    Bingo -- protein.

    In short, if you don't have enough protein in your system to facilitate the development of new muscle tissue, your muscle growth becomes impaired. Which is why you want to make sure you have adequate protein available at all times.

    Which explains why protein supplements are so useful.

    When it comes to supplementing with protein, there are two options that stand above the rest -- Whey Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Concentrate.

    What is Whey Protein?

    What in the world is whey protein?

    First and foremost, whey is a specific part of dairy milk.

    Dairy milk is made up of several individual components, including water, carbohydrates, a multitude of vitamins and minerals, and two distinct proteins -- which are known as casein and whey protein.

    Casein is found in the solid components of milk, whereas whey is found in the liquid components.

    With all this in mind, when people make cheese, the liquid component of the milk is separated from the solid to make it thicker. This watery component is then filtered to extract the whey.

    While whey was once considered a useless byproduct, it is now purified and dried to form a powder.

    And this powder is what we now call whey protein.

    Why Whey Protein?

    The main reason that whey protein has become the most popular type of protein powder is because it is considered a complete protein.

    It is considered complete because it provides you with all nine essential amino acids (which cannot be made in your body and therefore must be obtained through diet), including the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine.

    This ultimately means that it provides your body with everything it needs to build new muscle.

    Whey Protein Isolate VS. Whey Protein Concentrate

    Once whey has been separated from the rest of the milk, it can be refined and processed in a number of different ways, each resulting in a slightly different type of protein powder.

    However, the two most common are Whey protein Isolate (WPI for short) and Whey Protein Concentrate (or WPC).

    But what's the difference, and more importantly, is one better than the other?

    1.    Nutrient Breakdown

    WPI undergoes a more serious process of filtration than WPC. This means that it contains less carbohydrates, less fat, and more protein per serving. In fact, if you were to look at the Amino Z branded WPI and WPC, this becomes apparent.

    Our WPI contains a whopping 90 grams of protein per 100 grams, for only 1.2 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of fat.  On the other hand, our WPC contains 80 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 7 grams of carbohydrates (again, per 100 grams).

    While this does not make a huge difference when you are looking at the typical 30-40 gram serving size of protein powder, over time it can start to add up.

    2.    Digestibility

    As I alluded to above, WPI is more refined than WPC. This means that it is absorbed a little bit faster than WPC. But even though this may sound like a big deal, it doesn't appear to have a huge difference when it comes to real-world outcomes.

    In fact, both WPI and WPC are absorbed in less than an hour after consumption. As a result, they have similar effects on muscle protein synthesis, and consequently, similar effects on muscle growth [1].

    Although one notable difference that does need to be considered when discussing the digestibility of these two supplements is related to lactose.

    WPC contains a lot more lactose than WPI.

    As a result, WPI is probably a much better choice for people who are lactose intolerant, or find themselves getting digestive issues after consuming large amounts of dairy [2].

    3.    Price

    Finally, onto the big one -- price.

    Because WPC is much easier to make than WPI, it is noticeably cheaper. It is for this reason a kilogram of our WPI will set you back $34.95, while a kilogram of our WPC only costs $29.95.

    This means that if you are a little bit short on cash, WPC might be a better option for you.

    Take Home Points

    I would argue that 99% of people in the gym should be taking a protein supplement. It ultimately ensures that you have enough protein available to maximise recovery, boosting muscle growth in the process.

    However, when it comes to choosing what type of protein supplement to take, it can get a little tricky.

    WPI contains more protein than WPC on a per serving basis, in conjunction with less fat, less carbohydrates, and a lot less lactose. However, this is reflected in its price, where it is a little more expensive.

    In essence, if you are sensitive to lactose, WPI is a must. If you are short on cash, then WPC is probably the better option.

    And if you fit neither of those categories?

    Go with whatever one you feel is best for you!

    References

    1. Hulmi, Juha J., Christopher M. Lockwood, and Jeffrey R. Stout. "Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein." Nutrition & metabolism 7.1 (2010): 51.
    2. Hoffman, Jay R., and Michael J. Falvo. "Protein–which is best?." Journal of sports science & medicine 3.3 (2004): 118.
  • How much protein do you need?

    Protein is one of the three macronutrients that make up the food you eat (with the other two being fats and carbohydrates).

    With this, I would argue that it is the most important macronutrient.

    But why is this the case? And more importantly, how much do you need?

    Why is protein important?

    When you consume the protein molecules in food, they are broken down in your digestive tract into small compounds known as “amino acids” -- which are then absorbed into your body.

    And this is important.

    See, amino acids are commonly referred to as the building blocks of the human body [1].

    They are used to make the hormones and enzymes found throughout your body, the neurotransmitters in your brain. They are also used to build and repair your tendons, organs, ligaments, skin and hair, and muscle tissue.

    Now, it is important to note that there are a total of 20 amino acids found in your body -- but not all of them are created equal.

    Eleven of these amino acids are considered “non-essential” because they can be made within your body. Considering this, the remaining 9 amino acids are known as “essential” because they cannot be made in your body, and therefore must be obtained through your diet.

    This means that you need to eat a substantial amount of protein each day to optimise your health and function irrespective of whether you exercise, or not.

    And if you actively weight train to get bigger and stronger, then this becomes even more important...

    Every time you lift weights, you place your body under a significant amount of stress. This stress tells your body that it needs to adapt so it can better tolerate that stress in the future. It is this that causes your muscle tissue to grow bigger and stronger.

    However, if you have insufficient protein available, then this growth cannot occur -- and you leave a lot of gains on the table.

    Which begs the question: how much protein do you need on a daily basis?

    How much protein do you need?

    When it comes to protein intake, there is a little bit of contention between the Australian dietary guidelines and more recent research on the topic -- which can make finding clear recommendations somewhat difficult.

    The most common recommendation you are likely to see comes from the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, which were developed back in 2006 by a bunch of health professionals (mostly medical practitioners).

    These guys set the recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein at:

    • 64 grams per day for men aged between 19-70 years, and
    • 46 grams per day for women aged between 19-70 years.

    They also suggest that individuals aged above 70 years should increase their intake of protein by a further 25% to mitigate age-related loss of bone and muscle tissue.

    But, I should note that these are the recommended daily intakes set by health professionals to ensure health and function -- and not to maximise muscle growth, which is another kettle of fish entirely.

    In fact, if your goal is to build muscle and gain strength, I would argue that this is gross underestimation of how much protein you need to eat each day.

    And the research supports this…

    How much protein do you need to maximise muscle growth?

    In my mind, if your goal is to build muscle, then there are two glaring issues associated with the above recommendations:

    1. They are simply too low to optimise muscle growth
    2. They are not based upon the individual.

    It may seem a little obvious, but if you have someone who weighs 100kgs, and someone who weighs 60kgs, then there is a good chance that the heavier person will need more protein, no matter the circumstances.

    And this is where recent research on the topic shines.

    A meta analysis (a study that combines the results of multiple studies) of 49 studies found that the minimal threshold to maximise muscle growth when people perform resistance training is 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day [1].

    And I should note that this is the minimum amount to optimise muscle growth.

    Additional research has suggested that going as high as 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight may have further benefits [2] -- especially for people undertaking a cut, and are trying to maintain as much muscle as possible while maximising fat loss.

    This means that if you weigh 70kgs, you should be eating somewhere between 112 and 154 grams of protein each day.

    While this may sound on the high side, research has also shown that consuming as much as 3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight does not have any adverse effects on health at all (yes, even kidney health) [3] -- indicating that you will be fine.

    How often should you eat protein?

    There is a common misconception in the fitness industry that you can only absorb 30 grams of protein at a time -- which is completely false.

    However, when you eat a serving of protein, it increases “muscle protein synthesis”, which is the process your body uses to build new muscle tissue. Interestingly, 30 grams of protein appears to be enough to maximise your rate of muscle protein synthesis, which remains elevated for about 2-3 hours after eating [2].

    This means that if you want to promote as much muscle growth as you possibly can, you might want to break up your daily protein intake into 4-5 servings throughout the day.

    So, using the same 70kg individual above, a day of protein intake might look like this:

    • Breakfast: 20 grams of protein
    • Lunch: 30 grams of protein
    • Pre workout snack: 20 grams of protein
    • Post workout protein shake: 30 grams of protein
    • Dinner: 30 grams of protein

    All of which leads to a total intake of 130 grams, which sits smack bang in the middle of the 112-154 gram range we discussed above.

    Best Sources of Protein

    When you are looking for protein sources, there are a couple of boxes you want to tick when possible.

    Firstly, you want to make sure that the food provides a substantial amount of protein per serving. Secondly, you want to make sure that the food provides all nine essential amino acids (and would be considered a “complete” protein source) [4].

    Arguably the best sources of protein when adhering to these criteria are animal sources, including:

    • Beef
    • Eggs
    • Chicken
    • Poultry
    • Seafood
    • Milk
    • Greek yoghurt

    Although animal sources are generally considered the best source of protein, you can also obtain them from non-animal sources, such as:

    • Quinoa
    • Buckwheat
    • Soy
    • Quorn
    • Oats
    • Beans
    • Lentils

    You should also be aware that protein from vegetable sources are generally absorbed less readily than those derived from animal sources. While this is not a huge issue if you are eating enough protein, it is something that needs to be considered.

    Finally, if you are after a simple complete source of protein that won't break the bank, it is hard to look past whey protein powder.

    Whey protein is derived from dairy, and therefore contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also absorbed very quickly, making it the perfect option if you are looking for ways to increase your daily protein intake.

    Final Message

    If your goal is to build muscle and gain strength, then you probably need to be eating more protein.

    In fact, striving for somewhere between 1.6 and 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day appears to be optimal for muscle growth. Moreover, you want to try and separate this into 4-5 servings throughout the day to boost muscle protein synthesis where possible.

    No matter where you get your protein from, if you stick to these guidelines, you can be assured you are eating enough protein to meet your goals.

    So what are you waiting for? It's time to chow down.

    References

    1. Morton, Robert W., et al. "A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults." British journal of sports medicine 52.6 (2018): 376-384.
    2. Stokes, Tanner, et al. "Recent perspectives regarding the role of dietary protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training." Nutrients 10.2 (2018): 180.
    3. Antonio, Jose, et al. "A high protein diet has no harmful effects: a one-year crossover study in resistance-trained males." Journal of nutrition and metabolism 2016 (2016).
    4. Hoffman, Jay R., and Michael J. Falvo. "Protein–which is best?." Journal of sports science & medicine 3.3 (2004): 118.
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