A guide to taking protein supplements – Do’s and Don’t’s
Protein. It’s one of today’s buzzwords. More and more products are getting protein added variants (protein soups anyone?!?!). But what does science say about this key nutrient and who should be taking supplements?
Protein. Why do we need it?
A world without protein = no amino acid building blocks to give our muscles and bones substance, no anti-bodies to fight viruses, no hormones to send messages around the body, no oxygen transported in blood. Protein is involved in a HUGE array of processes which help our body to function correctly.
How much is needed?
It depends on your exercise levels. A typical couch potato needs 45-55g of protein daily but actually eats 65-85g. Mostly as meat and dairy foods. Someone taking regular exercise needs a lot more as the guide below shows. As it can be difficult to work around training and a busy lifestyle, protein supplements are a useful addition to the diet.
Proteins are complex structures made up of tiny chains of amino acids. There are 20 types of amino acids. Nine of these are essential as we don’t make them in our bodies. A good source of protein is one that contains most or all of the essential amino acids. We call these high biological value proteins. Good natural examples are
– lean meat
Examples of protein ingredients in supplements are collagen peptides (made from gelatin) and whey (made from milk).
While our diet should be based on real foods, as these contain a range of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibres, protein supplements can help active people reach their recommended intake and are a convenient portable source of protein.
Who should take supplements?
Studies show that protein supplements have their optimal effect when combined with regular exercise.
A review published in Sports Medicine in 2015 examined the results from 38 clinical studies and found that muscle size and strength were boosted by protein supplements when individuals trained regularly and for a set amount of time each week. Protein supplementation also led to faster gains in both aerobic (endurance) and anaerobic (sprinting, dynamic) power.
In contrast, protein supplements had no effect on untrained people, or in the first couple of weeks of beginning exercise. So, extra protein needs the stimulus of regular training before you see a change in muscle size, function and aerobic power.
Given that protein works best when spread out across the day and combined with carbs, it’s a good idea to eat some protein at every meal and use protein supplements after exercise, or when you’re on the move.
If you are interested in learning more about protein, you can head to the Vieve protein water wesbite and blog where you’ll find the information above and lots more!