If you ask any weightlifter what the best way to build muscle is, the number one response will usually include using some brand of protein powder. For the last decade or so, protein supplements have become a big business in the fitness world, promising maximum gains without having to change your diet drastically. As many people know, when you exercise your muscles, you are tearing the fibers. After your workout, the muscles repair themselves by building newer, stronger strands. To help with this process, your body utilizes amino acids and naturally forming proteins to create the muscle and mend the torn tissue. The idea is that the more protein you give your body after a workout, the more muscle mass you can generate. But is this actually the case? Let’s look at how protein powders work and determine if they are as handy as they claim.
Protein Powder Basics
Most protein powders are a heavily processed form of protein, usually created by breaking down the components of dairy products and whey. Some mixtures include other chemicals and nutrients to help expedite your body’s ability to absorb protein, as well as improve your health in other ways. The basic idea of a protein powder is that the more processed your food is, the easier it is for your body to absorb its nutrients. Much like how cooking meat breaks down the complex protein and amino acids within, a protein powder is designed to take the fast track to your body’s system, so you get your nutrients quicker.
Can Protein Powders Increase Mass?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated, as it is both true and false. The reality is that your body can only utilize so much protein for muscle creation. According to medical professionals, the amount of protein your body needs to generate new muscle tissue is anywhere from 10 to 14 grams added to your regular diet. Most meats have more than enough protein inside of them to reach this threshold. Protein powders, on the other hand, can have as much as 80 grams of protein per serving.
While it may seem like more protein ingested would equal more muscle built, unfortunately, your body doesn’t work that way. It will use only as much protein and nutrients as it needs, and flush the rest out of your system. To that end, providing yourself with extra protein via a powder will give you sufficient protein to build muscle, but ultimately you will literally be wasting excess powder that your body can’t absorb.
Are Protein Powders Better Than Eating Meat?
When it comes to breaking down nutrients, your body could not care less where it comes from. Whether the protein is from a pound of chicken or a 20-ounce protein shake, your internal system will utilize it the same way. That being said, however, too much protein in your system could cause long-term damage to your liver and kidneys as they will be working overtime to break down the extra nutrients. Thus, adding more meat to your diet or adding a protein shake has the same effect, but too much powder could add unnecessary stress to your organs.
Regardless of your diet plan, if you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, come to A4 Fitness. At our fitness studio in West LA and Santa Monica, it has never been easier to build muscle and get the body you’ve always wanted.
Adam & Amanda
We have spent most of our adult lives training and guiding thousands of people toward better health & fitness. We have created this A4 Blog in order to better educate our friends & members. We will answer any of your health / fitness / nutrition questions as well as keeping you posted on what's new at A4.