Protein is a nutrient that is essential for growth and development. Protein is the second most abundant compound in the body after water and is fundamental to the structural and functional properties of all cells in our body. Our muscles are made of protein and some of our most important anabolic hormones are made of protein including insulin and growth hormone. Proteins are involved with the metabolism of energy and nutrients in our body. In terms of sport, protein is the primary essential nutrient capable of building new muscle and repairing damaged muscle. Protein is found in both animal and plant sources, with animal sources being the best source of complete protein due to high availability of all amino acids. Plant sources of protein often lack one or several important amino acids. While we derive most of our protein from food sources, consuming our protein through supplements is an easy way to maintain increased protein needs as a result of exercise without consuming bulky and often calorie high foods and meals. There is a huge variety of protein powders and formulas in the market. The most common sources of the protein in these supplements are from: Milk (whey and casein), Soy, Egg Whites, Hemp and Rice. Whey protein, derived from the cheese and milk making process is thought to be the best protein supplement for bodybuilders and weight trainers as it contains high levels of all the Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) as well as the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – which are essential for muscle recovery and growth.
While protein needs differ between individuals, the consensus is that exercising individuals consume between 1.4 – 2g/ kg/day. For those participating in resistance exercise this figure should lean towards the higher end to ensure positive nitrogen balance and to sustain an anabolic environment. Extra protein should also be ingested pre- and post- workout for maximum muscular gains. Not meeting these protein requirements can severely hinder your ability to gain muscle mass and to repair damage to the muscles from exercise. Aside from proteins effects on muscles, it may have additional benefits in terms of aiding weight loss. High protein meals are often more satisfying, making you feel fuller for longer and preventing binges throughout the day. Protein unlike carbohydrates does not create fluctuations in blood glucose which is one key drive for hunger response. Those consuming increased protein often have favourable fat mass/fat free mass ratios. That is, people who have higher protein diets have more muscle and less fat.
Protein Powders are commonly presented & sold as Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia. Protein Powders are not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read the label prior to use.1. Jackson (2007), Protein, in Essentials of Human Nutrition. Ed. Mann & Truswell. Oxford University Press