05 Oct Food or Powder – Is There Really A Difference With Your Protein
As an avid gym goer, someone who trains 4-6 times a week, protein is a must for me. Protein has so many benefits for the body. I need enough protein for muscle gain and recovery, fat burning, and for overall health. Due to the high metabolic demand, eating enough food tends to be challenging and pricey. This is where supplements come into play. There are many out here who believe supplements are a waste of money and don’t do anything. Others swear that supplements are needed because it’s impossible for a trained athlete to meet all their nutritional needs through food alone. In this article, I will give my thoughts and advice with protein powders.
There are many out there who say whether a nutrient is in its natural state or synthetic form, the body will absorb it because it doesn’t know the difference at a cellular level. I believe this is true to a point. Let me share a story from early lifting days. When I first got into strength training, I was a skinny weak kid who, like most, got his workout advice from muscle magazines. A common theme was how much protein these muscular guys were consuming. Being a broke high school student I went to the supplement store and bought a large tub of protein at the best price I could find. I was drinking 3 shakes a day on top of eating 3 meals a day. Leading up to football season I had to get a sports physical and my doctor also had me take a urine test. What showed up was tons of crystals (proteins) in which he freaked out and thought my kidneys were leaking protein. He asked me to come back in to take another test ASAP. I went in the next day and decided not to drink any of those shakes. As you can guess, my test came up normal. Clearly, my body was not absorbing the protein for whatever reason.
Now, after reading this you may think I’m one of those anti-supplement guys. Well, I’m not! I’m very pro supplements. What I learned over the years are that supplements are not created equally. Cheap supplements don’t work. You must go with a high-quality supplement company. The better quality supplements do get used by the body and I’ve had tremendous success by using the proper ones. Keep in mind, food is my first priority. I spend so much money per month on food because food is my fuel. I would not be able to do what I do daily by drinking protein shakes only. Protein powder should be used for convenience when you can’t get to food. For example, if I know I’ll be really busy on a particular day, I’ll bring a shake with me to tide me over until I can get to food. I’ll bring a shake to the gym with me to drink immediately post-workout to refuel after a grueling day. Another scenario, I’ll use a shake in the morning if I’m running late and don’t have time to make breakfast. I use it as a supplement to my diet (that’s why it’s called supplements and not replacements).
My take with this is that diet should be your top priority. Make sure each meal contains protein and the proper carbs and fats that support your goals. Also, you need to eat at least 3 meals a day and have snacks as well. If you’re going to fall short on your protein goals for the day, fill in the gap with a quality protein shake. Remember cheap supplements aren’t good and good supplements aren’t cheap!