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How to Use Protein Supplements for Maximum Results

When to Take Your Protein Powder

Protein timing is the science of when and how to take protein powder supplements for the best results. It isn’t as simple as just choosing a great tasting protein flavor, mixing and enjoying. Other factors come into play.

First Thing In The Morning. After waking, your body is in a fasting condition. You haven’t eaten protein for quite some time, and your body needs a fast digesting protein source to insure that you remain in a positive nitrogen balance.

At this time it’s a good idea to use both a fast and slow digesting protein powder. This could be a whey protein drink with a solid protein source such as eggs and cheese, or a whey/casein protein powder mix.

A fast digesting protein will quickly place the body into a positive nitrogen balance, and get the day off to a good, muscle building start. A slow digesting protein source, like casein protein, will continue to feed amino acids into the blood stream, and hold you off until your next protein meal.

Pre Workout. Your pre-workout meal should consist of a slow digesting protein powder that will keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance as you workout.

Post Workout. You should take the same approach post-workout as you did first thing in the morning. Consume a mixture of fast and slow digesting protein sources to help you recover from the workout, and propel you in a positive nitrogen balance to your next meal.

Between Meals. Regular protein supplement meals and snacks eaten throughout the day should be from slow digesting proteins, such as casein or egg protein. Slow digesting protein in between major meals assures that you will maintain a positive nitrogen balance throughout the day.

Night Time. Having a slow digesting protein supplement before bed maximizes your nitrogen balance while sleeping. Casein protein is a good choice before hitting the sack.

Meal Replacements

Meal replacements are one of the most underrated and underused supplements on the market. They are much more then just a protein source – they are complete and nutritious meals.

A meal replacement bar or shake can contain fast or slow digesting proteins, or protein blends. Before purchasing meal replacements, make sure you are familiar with its protein source. As with protein powders, meal replacements can be taken at various time of the day. It should be noted that some meal replacements are designed to help you during diets, and some are aimed to help you gain weight.

Meal replacements with whey protein (or whey blends) are best eaten first thing in the morning, as a replacement for breakfast. The fast digesting whey protein will help to restore a positive nitrogen balance, and will get your body on the road to building or repairing muscle.

Meal replacements specifically categorized as “lean” are for weight loss, and are best eaten as a replacement for a main meal such as breakfast or lunch.

Meal replacement shakes or bars with slow digesting, non-whey protein sources are best eaten as replacements for lunch or dinner. The slow digesting proteins will keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance for longer periods of time.

Protein and Carbohydrates for Weight Gain

For underweight “hardgainers” or trainees looking to bulk, quality carbohydrate intake is just as important as frequent protein feedings. Weight gainer protein supplements provide a great source of complex and simple carbs, and generally digest faster then whole foods.

To maximize weight gain, it is best to use a weight gainer protein supplement at least 2 to 3 times per day.  A solid approach is to drink a weight gainer shake in between meals, and then have a third before bed.

Enhancing Protein Uptake with Fast Digesting Carbs

Quality carbohydrates should be eaten with every protein meal. Quality carbs improve protein transport and utilization. There are numerous fast digesting carbohydrate products that are designed to compliment protein supplementation.

Waxy maize is a fast digesting complex carb source that is perfect before, during or after training. It is able to replenish glycogen stores faster the whole food complex carb sources, and is the king of all carb supplements.

Carb powders, such as Carbo Gain or Carbo Plus, provide quality complex carbohydrates. These powders mix easily with protein powders, and can be utilized throughout the day to maximize your gains.

Example Protein Supplementation Plan

Protein Supplementation Plan for Gaining Muscle.

The following is a list of suggested times for various protein supplements. It is not recommended that you eat only protein supplement foods. Protein variety is essential for good health and muscle mass.

  • Morning – Protein shake, whey/casein protein powder blend.
  • Mid-Morning – Protein Bar
  • Lunch – Protein shake, slow digesting protein source such as casein or egg protein.
  • Mid-Afternoon – Protein Bar
  • Pre-Workout – Whey protein shake, fast digesting protein source. Waxy maize.
  • Workout -  Whey protein and waxy maize.
  • Post-workout -  Protein shake, whey/casein protein powder blend. Waxy maize.
  • Before Bed -  Protein shake, slow digesting protein source such as casein or egg protein.

Protein Supplementation Plan for Adding Weight.

The following is a list of suggested times for various protein supplements. It is not recommended that you eat only protein supplement foods. Protein variety is essential for good health and muscle mass.

  • Morning – Calorie dense meal replacement bar, or whey protein based weight gainershake.
  • Mid-Morning – Weight gainer shake, slow digesting protein source such as casein or egg protein.
  • Lunch – Calorie dense meal replacement bar.
  • Mid-Afternoon – Weight gainer shake, slow digesting protein source such as casein or egg protein.
  • Pre-Workout – Whey protein shake, fast digesting protein source. Waxy maize.
  • Workout -  Whey protein and waxy maize.
  • Post-workout -  Protein shake, whey/casein protein powder blend. Waxy maize.
  • Before Bed -  Weight gainer shake, slow digesting protein source such as casein or egg protein.

Choosing the Right Protein Powder

Choosing a protein powder can be confusing. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of protein powder brands, variations, and flavors. Please read the following to help you decide on the best purchase.

Price vs. Quality

Not all protein powders are created equal. Choosing a protein powder based on cost alone is a mistake. There are many factors that go into the creation of a protein powder. Generally, lower cost equals a low quality of raw ingredients, and an inferior quality control process. A poor manufacturing process can decrease the quality of the finished product, making less of the protein bioavailable. Simply put…you may be flushing money down the drain because inferior protein that isn’t as easily digested.

As with most products, price equals quality. Take time and do your research. Generally, the more you spend, the more you get for your money.

Whey Protein:  Isolate vs Blend vs Concentrate

Whey isolates are the purest form of whey protein. A whey isolate is 90 to 98% pure protein, and contains very little fat and lactose. Because of this, whey isolate is a good, low calorie protein source for lifters who are watching their weight or trying to cut. Because of its purity, whey isolate protein is also more expensive.

A whey concentrate contains more fat and lactose then a whey isolate, and is approximately 70 to 85% pure protein. Whey concentrate is less expensive, and higher in calories. Because of these factors, whey concentrate is a better choice for lifters who are bulking or trying to gain weight.

whey protein blend is a good middle ground whey protein. If want a quality, cost-effective whey protein, and are not cutting or bulking, a whey blend is the best way to go.

Looking for a Good Amino Acid Profile

An amino acid profile is simply the amount of amino acids, BCAA, and essential amino acids that are contain in a protein powder. When looking at an amino acid profile, you look primarily at the amount of essential amino acids and BCAAs per serving.

BCAAs

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

Essential Amino Acids

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine

There are 12 non-essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by the body. It is far more important to have a protein powder with a good essential amino acid profile, then it is to worry about the protein powder’s non-essential amino acid content.