Traditionally, protein powders were marketed to bodybuilders seeking to gain significant amounts of muscle mass. Although protein powders are certainly very effective in accomplishing this goal, can protein powders also be effective in helping you to tone up?
Many men and women alike wish to tone up without adding "bulk". Before we get into how protein powders can (or can not) help you to accomplish this goal, let's actually define what the goal is.
What is toning?
Toning is a term synonymous with sculpting, defining and shaping. Although we all understand what the end result of toning is, the processes behind accomplishing this goal is often not completely understood. Toning is effectively the combination of two processes:
- Fat loss
- Muscle Gain
The degree to which these two processes are required depend on the individual. For example, someone who is naturally strong yet quite overweight may need more fat loss than muscle gain. Meanwhile someone who is very skinny may require minimal fat loss and more focus on muscle development.
Because the processes required to accomplish a toned physique will vary greatly between people, the actual training and nutritional approach will vary greatly too. The focus on resistance training, cardiovascular training and diet will vary greatly.
Protein Powders and Toning
Now that we've defined exactly what toning is, let's consider how protein powders come into the equation.
Protein powders are simply the protein extracted from foods and made into a powdered form. They help to boost your protein intake, which is particularly useful if you are unable to consume adequate protein through dietary methods.
Further, protein powders have the unique ability to be absorbed extremely quickly by the body relative to food. This makes them particularly useful to aid in recovery after a high intensity workout.
If your toning goal is more muscle gain dependant (we're not talking bulk though), protein powders are almost a necessity.
Immediately before and after your weight training session, consuming a serve of high quality protein powder can provide your body with the essential nutrients required to develop muscle mass. Without consuming a protein shake, you will not obtain optimal muscle development results.
During the day time, you will have a heightened requirement for protein due to the focus on muscle development. A protein shake in the morning is very important (having gone all night without eating). For this reason, a slow absorbing protein in the night time is also a good idea to deliver a steady protein source into your body.
During the day, if you are unable to obtain adequate protein from food alone (which is often the case), it is a good idea to be consuming a protein shake to bump up your protein intake.
Don't be concerned that you're going to bulk up (whether you are male or female). Muscle growth occurs very, very slowly. It can take years to gain significant bulk for a male and even longer for females due to differing hormone levels. Remember, protein is only an extract from food - you're simply consuming a higher quality protein source, since it has been processed in a way to optimize absorption.
If your toning goal is more fat loss dependant, protein powders can be very effective in a number of manners.
Following an intense training workout (whether cardio or weights), you will require a high quality protein source to facilitate recovery. Without recovering effectively, your body will secrete stress hormones as a protective mechanism which can actually inhibit fat loss.
Also, protein powders can be a very effective tool during the day to utilize as a convenient low calorie meal. One scoop of protein powder is generally about 100 calories, so this can help you keep your calorie intake down and thus facilitate weight loss.
Protein powders, when used correctly, can have a profound impact on your toning goals. It's important to be smart about your protein powder intake so you obtain optimal results. You may wish to speak to your personal trainer to help advise you more specifically.
If however you've made the decision and are now looking to purchase a protein powder, look for a whey based protein powder. Whey protein powders are of the highest quality. Here are some recommendations from our store:
Toning geared toward muscle development:
Before/After workout protein powder: Optimum Nutrition Hydrowhey
Breakfast: Optimum 100% Whey
During the day: Optimum 100% Whey
Before bed: Optimum Casein
Toning geared toward fat loss:
Before/after workout protein powder: BodyScience Hydroxyburn Pro
During the day: Dymatize Elite Gourmet