Protein Supplements: What Should We Think About Them?
All men dream of having the super-strength of Popeye! However, in sports nutrition, the current trend is not spinach, but rather protein supplements. Whether in the form of powder, bars, pills or liquid, are they superfluous, or a must?
First of all, it is important to know that sports enthusiasts have higher needs in protein than most people. On the one hand, proteins are used to repair the tissues damaged during the effort, and on the other hand, to create new muscle tissue. Moreover, protein needs vary according to the sport:
- General adult population: 0,8 g/kg of bodyweight, per day
- Endurance athletes: between 1,3 and 1,6 g/kg of bodyweight, per day
- Bodybuilders and weightlifters: between 1,6 and 1,9 g/kg of bodyweight, per day
Proteins from food
In 2009, Health Canada revealed that the majority of Canadians get enough proteins from their diet. In opposition to supplements, which often contain only amino acids or proteins with a few carbs, food also contains other nutrients, including the following, to name only a few:
- B vitamins, which participate in the production of energy, red blood cells, and hormones;
- Vitamin E, which has properties of vasodilation;
- Iron, which helps in the transportation of oxygen and the creation of new cells;
- Zinc, which removes CO2from the muscles during exercise;
- Calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which play a part in the contraction of muscles, including the heart.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to get your proteins from foods such as meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy products!
To supplement or not to?
Only people with a weak appetite who have a hard time fulfilling their protein needs through their diet, or those who really don’t have the time to prepare meals and snacks can benefit from protein supplements. And in that case, skim milk powder is a more economical, but equally effective solution!
Also, don’t forget that the organism has three ways of dealing with extra protein: it is either flushed out through urine, used as a source of energy, or stored as fat… and I seriously doubt that the last option is the one you are looking for!
In short, if you want to gain muscle mass, simply make sure to eat enough calories every day to meet your minimal protein requirement – preferably with “real” food -, read my article « Foods for muscle growth » on this subject. Also, make sure to have a workout program suited to your objective. Then, all you need to do is be patient and persistent and things will go smoothly!