People who spend a lot of time in line at sports stores will notice something. Protein is everywhere. Bars, supplements, powders, nutritional guides, and the like are everywhere. Bodybuilders go through it in buckets. Vegetarians are constantly asked if they have enough. But what’s the real deal? What is protein? How much do we really need? And what does protein do?
What is it?
Proteins are made of amino acids, and make up every little bit of us. From the muscles in our legs, to our strands of hair. Proteins are useful, because when we exercise, muscles are broken down, and rebuilt stronger using amino acids. So to wrap, you need protein when you’re exercising to help your muscles get stronger.
We get those amino acids from proteins we eat. Most sources of protein are from meats. Things like steak, chicken, fish, and eggs. But we also get proteins from some nuts, milk, tofu, and many other things. Most health food stores also sell protein powders, bars, and supplements now.
How Much Do I Need?
Realistically, an adult male only needs around 56 grams of protein a day. What does that mean in real terms? Half a breast of turkey has over 90 grams of protein, while a grilled ribeye steak packs 69 grams of protein in it.
Realistically, most meat eaters get more than enough protein in one day. Vegetarians however, should be more careful about their protein intake, and ensure they get enough each day, though alternative sources like tofu, soy milk, and protein heavy vegetables, like peas and kale.
Should I Take Supplements?
Probably not. Just by managing your diet, you should be able to get the protein you need for muscle gain. What’s more, protein the body can’t use, gets converted to glucose – a.k.a. sugar. That glucose is easily converted to fat, which is sort of counterproductive.
However, there aren’t any side effects to taking in too much protein in your diet. You’ll just probably get fat, as the protein won’t get used. We’re not saying that nobody needs protein supplements. It’s just the majority of people who aren’t looking to pack on pounds of muscles, it won’t do as much.
But What If I Am?
But if you are the kind of person who’s looking to add some muscle, protein powders can help make up the deficit. Most bodybuilders take it mixed as a shake with milk, and some other stuff for a fairly simple reason – it tastes awful. Protein powders are usually taken from a whey base, and on their own are almost uniformly chalky, unpleasant messes. Try sticking it in a blender with milk, bananas and peanut butter. Peanut butter and banana, two strong flavours, should help cover up the taste.