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Protein Supplements

Protein Supplements Information & Recommended Product

Protein Supplements - In depth supplemental information, FAQs and product recommendations. Read detailed information on everything you would want to know about Protein Supplements. Additionally, You can find a recommended Protein Supplement product at the bottom of the page.

Quick jump to the sub-sections located below:

  1. What are Protein Supplements?
  2. Protein Requirements
  3. Types of Protein Powders
  4. Ways Used to Assess Protein Quality
  5. Benefits of Protein Supplements
  6. Protein Supplements, Timing and Dosage
  7. List of all available Protein products

What are Protein Supplements?

To understand this, we must look at the role of protein in the body:

Protein is one of the three macro nutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Macro-nutrients are a class of nutrients that the body needs to survive, they are sources of calories with each of the three serving different functions in our body. They are called macro due to the fact we need them in large amounts. The human body is about 60% water, after that we are mostly protein. Protein is part of every cell, every bone, the blood and every other tissue. No new living tissue can be built without protein – how important is that for building muscle?. Protein constitutes the cell's machinery – they do the cell's work while carbohydrates and fat supply the energy for this work to take place.

The word "protein" was introduced into science by the Swedish physician and chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius (1779-1848) who also determined the atomic and molecular weights of thousands of substances, discovered several elements including selenium, first isolated silicon and titanium, and created the present system of writing chemical symbols and reactions.

The word protein was named by the Dutch chemist Geradus Mulder in 1838 , coming from the Greek word "protos" which means "of prime importance". Our bodies are constantly assemble, break down and use proteins, so this means we must eat enough protein daily so this process can take place. This assembling process occurs through the use of amino acids, the commonly termed” building blocks” of protein. To look at it in a different way, the body will take the 20-22 known amino acids (depending on the source) that are available and create literally thousands of combinations that serve different functions in the body. Of the 20 amino acids, 9 are considered essential because the body can't make them, they must be supplied by the diet. They are: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine and Tryptophan. The remaining non-essential aminos are: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.

Protein is essential for growth and the building of new tissue as well as the repair of broken down tissue –as is the case at the end of your workouts. When you hear the term "positive nitrogen balance", a common term used in bodybuilding and weight lifting circles,it refers to being in a state of having enough protein available for the needs of the body and the needs of building muscle. What does nitrogen have to do with protein? According to Tabors Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, nitrogen is "one of the important elements in all proteins, nitrogen is essential for tissue building." What is more important is that nitrogen is a direct measurement of protein levels in the body.

So, for the most part we are told to take in enough protein from both whole food sources and supplement sources to maintain a positive nitrogen balance ( or positive protein balance) because your body is actually in an anabolic phase in this state, where a negative nitrogen balance, from lack of adequate protein, indicates a catabolic state. Anabolic is defined as “ the phase of metabolism in which simple substances are synthesized into the complex materials of living tissue”. Catabolic is defined as “ The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, characterized by destructive metabolism”. It's for this very reason that taking in enough protein through out the day,and the timing of these protein meals, is so important: not enough protein, and your body begins to break down muscle tissue to meet the it's demands which, again, means the constant assembling, breaking down and use of proteins (in the form of amino acids, remember). So we can see the importance of adequate protein in our diets and the consequences of not enough protein through-out the day.

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Protein Requirements:

Most modern authorities agree: you need at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body-weight with many suggesting as much as 1.5 grams per pound. This should be divided over 6 small meals or feedings. Put another way, you should be eating protein every 3 hours. Why? As talked about above, the body will use amino acid sequences or chains to perform a myriad of functions all day long. To make these chains, it will pull protein in the form of amino acids from your food. If enough protein is not available, it will pull what it needs from muscle tissue. So, with all of that, protein supplements are very simply, protein sources available primarily in powder form. The critical point to understand about protein powders is the ability of convenience. Now that we understand why properly timed protein intake is so important it should be clear why powders can be so useful – they allow quick and easy access to a quality protein source. As well, in many instances, such as in your post workout shake and morning protein intake, speed of digestion is crucial. Whole food simply does not digest fast enough.

Does that mean they should replace whole food? No,it does not, but they are justified by the fact we can’t always get to whole food and there are times we need a more specialized use which is best fulfilled from supplements.

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Types of Protein Powders

There are quite a few different types of powders available. These are:

Whey protein: considered to be the highest quality protein on the market today and by far the most popular. Whey comes in three main versions: concentrate, hydrolysate and isolate as well as a blend of all three.

Whey is a cheese by-product, it's the liquid part that is separated from the curd. In its raw form whey contains protein, fat, cholesterol and lactose. Before it hits the market as a powder, the fat and lactose (milk sugar) in whey have to be filtered out.

• Concentrates contain a low level of fat and cholesterol but have higher levels of bioactive compounds, and carbohydrates in the form of lactose — they are 29%–89% protein by weight.
• Isolates are processed to remove the fat, and lactose, but are usually lower in bioactive compounds as well — they are 90%+ protein by weight. Both of these types are mild to slightly milky in taste.
• Hydrolysates are predigested, partially hydrolyzed whey proteins that are more easily absorbed, but their cost is generally higher.

100% Egg White: 100% egg white was for years the very best on the market with a BV of 88-100%, until whey came along with a higher BV. “BV” means the Biological Value of a protein, it's an indicator of the quality of the protein. It's the percentage of the absorbed protein that your body actually uses. Biological Values are indicators of which proteins are the best at helping nitrogen retention in muscles to help them maintain or grow. 100% egg white still remains a quality choice but it's not as popular as it once was.

Casein: derived from milk, a good quality and a slower digesting powder than whey. In fact, the slow digestion time is the key selling point of this protein. It’s commonly used at night as you want to keep protein in your system as long as possible while you sleep because when you sleep you go into a fasted, catabolic state. When you wake up, you need protein and some simple carbs as soon as possible to help get your body back into an anabolic state. This is, as I say quite a bit, one of two key times of the day when you need fast digesting protein along with simple, or fast digesting, carbs ( the other being post-workout). You can use both whey and casein, whey after the workout and in the morning for fast digestion and casein at night and during the day when you know you'll be without protein for more than three hours, which may be a problem for many people with hectic lifestyles.

Blends: these are meant to provide a “sustained release” effect,with different proteins providing different digestion times. This is great but a blend is a compromise – you're getting quality protein mixed in with lower quality protein sources, such as soy. Blends could also include products such as Muscle Milk and Syntha 6. These products add extra calories in the form of carbs and healthy fats, making them a different product than protein only powders. These are popular products that people will use as their main protein supplement but you have to understand what you are getting in terms of calories and make sure the product fits your goals. I see these as more of a meal replacement or even a low calorie weight gain whereas a straight protein powder gives you just protein and only the calories associated with that.

Soy: generally considered to be one of the lowest quality proteins available. Made from the soya bean, the benefits of soy primarily come from its isoflavone content. Isoflavones are a type of antioxidant that combats cell damage. Genistein and daidzein, the isoflavones present in soy protein, possess antioxidant properties that protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and are linked to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the blood. Studies have shown that soy protein reduced total cholesterol by 9.3% and lowered LDL (or "bad") cholesterol by almost 13%. Soy also raised HDL (or "good") cholesterol in the blood by over 2%. This result is due to the structure of the amino acid in soy protein. Soy protein differs from meat protein, and changes the way the liver creates and metabolizes cholesterol. Since high cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for the development of heart disease, the benefit of soy in reducing that health problem could be significant for a large segment of the population.

Soy also contains phytoestrogens (plant hormones) that mimic the female hormone estrogen. This fact encourages promoters to tout the benefits of soy for relief of the symptoms of menopause.

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There are five methods used to assess protein quality:

1. Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS ): The Amino Acid Score with an added digestibility component. The PDCAAS is the current accepted measure of protein quality as it closely compares to determinations done with animals. A number of nutrition experts feel this method needs further refinement and additional changes may be seen in the future.

2. Amino Acid Score (AAS): A chemical technique considered fast, consistent, and inexpensive. It measures the indispensable amino acids present in a protein and compares the values with a reference protein. The protein is rated based upon the most limiting indispensable amino acid.

Values greater than 1.0 for both the AAS and the PCDAAS are considered to indicate that the protein contains essential amino acids in excess of the human requirements. Therefore, in 1990 at a FAO/WHO meeting it was decided that proteins having values higher than 1.0 would be rounded down to 1.0. This point is under debate as experts feel that the rounding down of high quality proteins fails to reflect the ability of the protein to complement the nutritional value of a lower quality protein.

3. Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER): Measures the ability of a protein to support the growth of a weanling rat. It represents the ratio of weight gain to the amount of protein consumed. This method has two major concerns. First is the concern that is may not be applied to growing infants and children as the amino acid growth requirement for infants is less than those for rats. Second, the PER measures growth but not maintenance so it may be of limited use in determining the protein needs of adults.

4. Biological Value (BV): Measures the amount of nitrogen retained in comparison to the amount of nitrogen absorbed. The BV and the NPU methods reflect both availability and digestibility and they give an accurate appraisal of maintenance needs.

5. Nitrogen Protein Utilization (NPU): The ratio of the nitrogen used for tissue formation versus the amount of nitrogen digested.

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Benefits of Protein Supplements

• To help athletes meet their daily protein requirements in a convenient, easy to use form.

In the sections above, I've covered why protein is important. I can safely say that, without adequate protein intake that is timed correctly, you will not meet your weight-lifting or sports specific goals. What should you expect from using a supplement? Don't look for steroid like effects ( this is actually more common than you might think), look at it as a means of keeping protein intake where it should be and remember progress is not based on just one thing but rather on getting a lot of things right.

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Energy Supplements, Timing and Dosage

While powders are the primary way to get your extra protein, you can get chewable tabs as well. Powder is the most common source, however. So then, your choice comes down to things like the quality of the company making the product, taste, value and how well it mixes. This is where doing some research, including reading user reviews, comes in. By doing this, you will have an idea of how well the product is working for other people as well as how it tastes and mixes. You can mix your powder in any beverage of your choice, some people will add into things like yogurt and oatmeal as well. As to value, this really comes down to understanding, and not being fooled by, the amount of protein per serving and the gram size of the scoop provided to get the advertised serving. By this I mean, if you see a protein advertising, say, 50 grams a serving and one advertising 23 grams a serving, you would think the 50 gram product gives you more protein, right? Not necessarily. How big are the scoops in each product and how many do you have to use to get the advertised grams? You'll find most 50 gram products use either a really, really big scoop or require two scoops whereas the 23 gram serving size uses one smaller ( sometimes much smaller) scoop. With that said, you usually will get more servings with the smaller scoop size but this is adjustable because you can certainly use two smaller scoops per shake if you like to get more total protein per serving. The point here is that there isn't more protein in the 50 gram product, it's just a bigger scoop.

Timing is anytime you can't get to a protein meal and after the workout as part of your shake. This then becomes an individual thing based on your schedule and activity level. Remember, though, you need protein ideally every three hours. Dosage as I've explained above but remember, you can calculate your daily needs based on your weight divided by six. If you choose to go up to 1.5 grams per pound of body-weight, then that's more protein per feeding or perhaps more feedings. Before buying, check the label for total servings and check the gram size of the scoop so you know the serving size, remembering that different scoop sizes provide different amounts of protein – a common scoop size will provide about 18-23 grams. Most powders are very low in fat, sugar and carbs so as always, label reading is a must.

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