How Protein Shakes Can Help You Build Muscle
But how exactly do protein shakes help build muscle, and what's the best way to use protein powder as part of your muscle-gain goals? What are they?
There's no magic associated with protein powder and protein shakes, but they do make it very quick and convenient to get your nutrition right.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients (the other two being fats and carbohydrates), and it's particularly important for growing and repairing muscle tissue. You're unlikely to get big if you don't have enough protein in your diet. How much do you use?
How much is enough? Shoot for around 30-40% of your overall caloric intake, and at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
You could get all your protein from meat, fish, eggs and other foods. But it's difficult, time-consuming and a logistical juggling act, particularly if you're on the go.
That's where protein powder comes in. Protein powder is really just a powdered version of any other protein (whey protein powder is, literally, powdered dairy protein). So think of it as a quick, convenient, easy-to-transport form of protein to eat.
There are other benefits, too. Some forms of protein powder have very high levels of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and are highly bioavailable; meaning the nutrition gets digested and absorbed quickly.
That's why you'll often see bodybuilders drinking a protein shake after training. Not only is the drink easy to mix up in the gym, convenient to carry in a kit bag, and tasty after training. But the nutrition profile of a protein powder means it's ideal when your body needs a wide spectrum of amino acids, without much fat.
Post-training isn't the only time you could use a protein powder. It's a convenient (and sweet) way to add extra protein to any meal. If you struggle to eat enough protein at breakfast, for instance, drink a shake alongside your meal, or pour a protein shake over cereal instead of milk, or stir a scoop into porridge.