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Do We Really Need Protein Powders For Muscle Gain? Few Irresistible Facts You Shouldn't Ignore

by SATHI 8 months ago in fitness
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The myths and facts about protein powders, that you can't avoid.

Do We Really Need Protein Powders For Muscle Gain? Few Irresistible Facts You Shouldn't Ignore
Photo by LYFE Fuel on Unsplash

Just go and ask any supplement company, they would convince you that protein supplements will guarantee put some muscles, melt pounds of fat and make you stronger within a week. But is it true?

Protein is a vital macronutrient to promote muscle growth, boost energy, physical performance, and also delay the aging process.

But wait a minute, do we also need to add protein shakes to our daily diet to become Mr. Olympia? Should we include this magic drink to become Mr. Fit?

Let’s try to understand the myths and the facts of protein powder before shelling out billions of dollars on it.

What are protein powders, and how protein powders are made?

By Matcha & CO on Unsplash

These are nothing but dietary supplements consumed by athletes and fitness enthusiasts to meet their daily protein target to develop muscle mass.

Such supplements are manufactured by extracting animal or plant-based sources. It comes from peas, rice, hemp, or potatoes; and eggs or milk-like – casein or whey protein. The naturally occurring carbs, fats, fibers, and minerals are usually removed during processing. And supplementary nutrients, herbs, and sometimes artificial sweeteners or flavorings may add in place of them.

Protein shakes are beneficial if you can’t fulfill your daily protein requirement from your diet. So, it is a supplement that some people find easier to have right after their workout rather than take some time to cook a dead animal.

How much protein do we need daily?

Among the 3 of the macronutrients protein is essential to – prevent blood clots, boost immunity, balance fluid, activating various hormones and enzymes. And last but not least, keep your muscle, bone, and mass healthy.

So, you should not avoid protein intake daily, especially during childhood, adolescence, or pregnancy. Like some other nutrients, we can’t store the protein in our bodies. Once the daily goal reaches, the body uses it for energy or stores it as fat. The amount of protein for a healthy person, called Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), should be 0.8 grams per kilogram of their body weight.

For example, a 150 pounds (68 kilograms) person requires roughly 55 grams of protein, and a person who weighs 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) will need nearly 72 grams of protein. Though, intake level varies for some professional athletes. They sometimes enhance their training by consuming more than the recommended value, but this does not apply to us.

Can we get all our proteins from food?

By Farhad Ibrahimzade on Unsplash

Most adult Americans consume about 90 to 100 grams of proteins per day – twice the recommended intake. Even the people on a strict plant-based or vegan diet eat about 60 to 80 grams of proteins from the foods like – whole grains, legumes, tofu, soymilk, nuts, and so on.

  • One egg for breakfast or lunch – 6 grams of proteins
  • Half-cup of chickpeas or handful of nuts – 4-6 grams of protein
  • Six ounces of Greek yogurt serves – 15-20 grams of proteins.
  • Four ounces of chicken for dinner – 21 grams of proteins.

So, a person can meet the recommended amounts through his daily meals. Although some research suggests older adults, pregnant women, or exercisers who have slightly high protein requirements can go with a protein supplement recommended by some dietitians. As, some companies add unsafe ingredients like papain, ginkgo to protein powders.

On the contrary, people with kidney disease should consume less protein than the RDA and should consult with healthcare providers before including any protein drink in their diet.

Are protein powders important for muscle building?

By LYFE Fuel on Unsplash

As mentioned earlier, these supplements are not necessary for gaining strength or building muscle mass. Instead of taking scoops of protein powder, we can switch to resistance training – an effective way to enhance muscle growth and endurance. Evidence suggests people looking for improving strength or building muscle can achieve this by doing some great exercises. And this should be accompanied by some protein-rich foods in their daily routine.

On the other hand, a glass of your favorite protein shake comes up with so many side effects. Like,

  • As it is a dietary supplement, the responsibility falls on the manufacturer to evaluate the safety and labeling of the products. Although FDA created Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), most of the companies do not check the efficacy properly before their products hit the shelf.
  • It can cause digestive problems. People with lactose intolerance may experience gastrointestinal discomfort for having some milk-based protein powders. In that case, they can go with some plant-based protein supplements like rice or pea protein – beneficial to stimulate muscle growth similar to whey protein.
  • Some of these magic drinks contain too much-added sugars – more than 23 grams per scoop. Just like a scoop of your favorite ice cream. And the results of consuming them for a long time are not that good. It may enhance the chances of blood sugar, blood pressure and reduce the muscle gaining potentiality at the same time. According to the American Health Association, women can take 24 grams of added sugar, and in the case of men, it is 36 grams per day.

Final thought

Truthfully speaking, the best body-building substance that you need is nothing but FOOD. Yes, food. If you include proper protein-dense foods into every meal, these will give you all of the building blocks, nutrients, and energy resources – the essential factors for gaining muscle. And if you take a closer look, you will find out that the protein supplements such as whey protein are nothing but the concentrated version of some nutrients necessary for gaining muscle mass.

Although in some cases, you can go for some chemical-free protein powders only after taking advice from medical professionals. Situations can be like,

  • You went through some critical operation where your body needs the protein for repairing the cells and making new ones.
  • Difficulties in eating due to older age. Or some serious illness like cancer.
  • Or, if you have a tight working schedule and have no time to cook, you can consider some good protein supplements.

So, if you are not into those above situations, a balanced diet with a good amount of proteins and calories will fulfill your needs. Some people think about isolated amino acids that they get from those magic drinks, but let me tell you, the foods that we consume every day all are come up with all essential amino acids. So, if you are not professional athletes – who need some supplement amino acids (BCCAS) – don’t waste your money on protein powders.


About the author


A writer on Medium.MSc. in Biological Science. Write about Science, Wellness, Travel, Food & Health. Bookworm. Love to travel. Trying to learn German but ist Nicht gut.

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