Monday, 17 August 2015

Supplement Series: Protein Shakes

As many of you will be aware, various supplements can be taken in addition to a regular diet to give health, performance and weight benefits. This post will feature protein and protein shakes, specifically the pros/cons and the optimal time for consumption. 

It goes without saying that protein is found naturally in the diet in both meats and plants, which when eaten in appropriate amounts is adequate for the synthesis of muscles, red blood cells, enzymes and the synthesis of other regulatory compounds (e.g. DNA and hormones). However, when exercising excessively or doing large amounts of strength training additional protein in the form of protein shakes may be beneficial. 

To give an idea of how much protein is required for different people etc. an endurance athlete requires 1.2 - 1.4 g per kg BW (for example, a 100kg person would require 120 - 140g of protein) and a strength athlete would require 1.2 - 1.7 g per kg BW. To induce a training adaptation e.g. increasing muscle mass, a higher rate of protein synthesis is required, therefore more protein is needed within the diet.

A typical protein shake serving will include around 20 - 25g protein which is fairly similar to that of 100g of chicken breast (27g). The key benefit of a protein shake over consuming a high protein meal, is convenience. You can easily take protein powder to the gym for example, allowing you to consume protein straight after a workout. In addition, you can buy protein powder which is fat and carbohydrate free, therefore not impacting upon daily macro content.

Benefit:
- The ingestion of protein (1.2 - 2.1 g.kg.BW) over a 12 week period of resistance training has been found to increase lean body mass by 5%.

Timing of ingestion:
- There has been no differences found between ingesting 20g protein immediately before or after exercise.
- Protein synthesis was higher ingesting 10g protein immediately after exercise compared to 3 hours later.
- Therefore, the optimal timing of protein ingestion appears to be immediately following exercise termination.

Negatives:
- Additional fat gain can occur if consuming protein with a high fat/carbohydrate content.
- A high protein diet can put excess strain on the kidneys due to excess ketones.
- Protein shakes may also cause gastro-intestinal discomfort.

Overall, when consumed in appropriate quantities, protein and protein shakes seem effective in increasing muscle mass when taken alongside resistance training and immediately after exercise.