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Are Protein Supplements Necessary To Build Muscle?

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Are Protein Supplements Necessary To Build Muscle?

Although protein intake is important, the wrong amount of it might cause serious health issues. Less protein content weakens the muscles, whereas high protein content causes weight gain. Know the right amount required and regulate your diet accordingly. Always prefer natural sources of protein (vegan or otherwise) in your diet over supplements.

It’s no doubt that protein supplements are big business these days. The amount and variety of products is dizzying! But are protein supplements really necessary for muscle gain?

It depends, of course, on who you ask, so let’s examine the situation thoroughly and help you make an informed decision.

How Your Body Uses Protein

Protein is in every cell of the human body. It’s called a macronutrient because your body needs relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. It’s also one of the most bountiful nutrients in your body.

Proteins contain essential amino acids, which means your body cannot produce these and must rely on dietary intake to supply them.

When you eat protein, your body must break it down like any other food. Protein breaks down into amino acids that the body can put to use for replacing old cells, building tissues, and things like fingernails and hair.

Why Use Protein Supplements

Of all the protein supplements available these days, the most popular type is undoubtedly protein powder. It seems like this magical formula has worked its way into almost everyone’s life, from performance athletes to weekend warriors.

Everyone is carrying around a shaker bottle, but is that really necessary? According to some health professionals, maybe not. Take a look at the list below to see if you fall into any of these categories:

  • Recovering from an injury: Professional athletes usually require more protein when they’re recovering from an injury, and there’s no reason why a casual athlete can’t benefit from this as well.
  • Starting a new workout routine: If you’re just starting working out and trying to build muscle rapidly, a protein supplement might work well for you.
  • If you’re a youngster: Younger people, and especially teenagers, need more protein in general, especially if they’re in a workout routine.
  • Vegetarian or vegan: Many people who have adopted a plant-based diet are always looking for more ways to get the protein they’re missing from lean meat, fish, and, in some cases, dairy.

Men Vs. Women

Men and women have different nutritional requirements, mostly due to body makeup and muscle mass. The recommended daily amount of protein for men is around 56 grams, and for women it’s closer to 46 grams. On average, men intake about 100 grams per day, while women consume around 70 grams.

So it seems we already get plenty of protein. And remember that any excess protein that doesn’t get used by your body will get stored as fat.

On average, men take in about 2500 calories per day, while women consume around 1800. The recommended amount of protein in your diet should be between 10 and 35%.1

Not Enough Protein

Not consuming enough protein can lead to all kinds of problems. We already mentioned essential amino acids, and if your body doesn’t have enough of these, it will begin to cannibalize itself and find the amino acids it needs.

What usually suffers here is the muscle, because your body will tap into this area to supply your heart and other organs with the stuff they need to be healthy. This is especially true as we age.

Consuming too much protein can also lead to weight gain and gastrointestinal issues.

The flip side of this is getting too much protein, and this can be bad as well. Too much protein can cause your kidneys to become overworked as they try to filter the blood.

The Best Source Of Protein

Asking questions about nutrition, even when you’re dealing with trained and experienced professionals, can get you answers that have as much personal opinion as scientific facts. But one thing that most experts agree on is that when you’re trying to add specific nutrients or vitamins to your diet, it’s best to get them from real food and not supplements.

Some of the best sources of protein include the following:

  • Fish – salmon, tuna, cod
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Eggs

For vegans and vegetarians, some of the best sources of protein include the following:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Peas
  • Nut butters

These lists are just small samples of the many tasty and nutritious sources of protein available for every type of diet. If you feel you aren’t getting enough protein and must use a supplement to make up the deficit, a high-quality protein powder is always an excellent choice.

Working With Protein Supplements

Undoubtedly, the most popular protein supplement comes in the powder form. And the best way to use these powders is in some sort of drink or smoothie. Some powders are tasteless, while others have a distinct flavor that some people just can’t get past.

If it’s been a while since you’ve tried protein powder as a supplement, you may want to try again. Today’s modern powders dissolve better and are more palatable than ever before. And with the wide variety of high-quality powders, there’s sure to be something for everyone’s taste.

Food First, Then Supplement

Remember that real food is always your best source of protein. But if for some reason you’re unable to get all you need from the foods you eat, protein supplements are an excellent way to increase your protein intake.

References   [ + ]

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Ted Begnoche
Star Expert

Ted Begnoche is a writer and avid researcher on the subjects of nutrition and holistic wellness. He has recently published books on Sugar Detox as well as the inflammation epidemic, and continues to improve his knowledge by constantly remaining up to date with the latest news and trends in the nutrition world. When not busy writing, you can find him playing the banjo or guitar, outside fishing, or working on his blog, http://holistichealthpath.com

Ted Begnoche
Star Expert

Ted Begnoche is a writer and avid researcher on the subjects of nutrition and holistic wellness. He has recently published books on Sugar Detox as well as the inflammation epidemic, and continues to improve his knowledge by constantly remaining up to date with the latest news and trends in the nutrition world. When not busy writing, you can find him playing the banjo or guitar, outside fishing, or working on his blog, http://holistichealthpath.com