For over four decades fitness enthusiasts, athletes and bodybuilders alike have used protein powders as the foundation for their nutritional programs to help them repair and rebuild lean muscle mass. Contrary to popular belief, supplementing your diet with proteins like whey protein is not a relatively new concept in the field of health and fitness. About 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates recommended “serums” or drinks which were rich in lactose, minerals and fast-absorbing proteins. And, ever since then, the importance of whey protein as a nutritional supplement has been building in popularity.
But what can protein do for you?
Regardless of your goals, protein should be regarded as a nutritional staple in your diet. Needed by everyone on a daily basis, protein has a number of different roles in the body including:
- Repairing body cells
- Building and repairing muscles and bones
- Providing a source of energy
- Providing the building blocks for tissues, enzymes and hormones that control metabolism and movement
- Protecting your body from infections
Proteins are made by linking amino acids together into a long chain, the sequence and shape determining its function. While all of the proteins your body needs to be constructed from the 20 identified amino acids, your body can’t make all of the amino acids it needs. Of the 20, nine are considered essential because they have to be supplied from outside the body. In order to prevent deficiencies, you should eat foods containing these every 48 hours.
Foods that contain all of the essential amino acids, in sufficient quantities to meet your metabolic demands are considered complete proteins. Complete proteins include:
- Some dairy products
- Whey protein
When you’re constantly on the go between work, the gym, activities and family and friends, you don’t always have time to prepare meals but you can get your protein needs fulfilled with protein shakes. Protein shakes are not only quick and convenient; they are also an incredibly healthy alternative to fast food. Whey protein is ideal for everyone, not just professional athletes and bodybuilders.
If you train regularly, the best time to utilize the benefits of a protein shake is immediately following your workout since your body starts to heal the muscle right after a workout and consuming protein within 30 minutes of your workout will give the body the fuel it needs to heal and grow your muscles.
Other key times to make sure you are utilizing the benefits of protein, especially in the form of protein shakes, are right before bed so your body doesn’t become protein depleted overnight and for breakfast to make use of a convenient protein shake, especially for those of us with limited time in the morning. This will get your body fueled and energized for the day.