Despite protein powder (or “protein shakes”) being by far the most widely consumed supplement within the fitness industry, most people are lost when it comes to how to choose the best type of protein and even moreso when it comes to how to best use protein powder to build muscle. In this video, I’ll cover everything you need to know about protein.
First off, let’s discuss the best type of protein. Although there’s several types of protein out there (whey protein, casein protein, plant-based protein, egg protein, hemp protein, vegan protein, pea protein, etc.) research shows that whey protein and casein protein are the two best options in terms of essential amino acid content and elevating protein synthesis. Whey is a fast-digesting protein whereas Casein is a slow-digesting protein. Research shows that Whey protein powder is superior to Casein protein powder and also has a slightly higher leucine content, so I’d stick with Whey – and more specifically, I’d stick with Whey isolate protein since it’s the purest form of Whey protein and contains the least lactose (if that’s an issue for you). However, as you’ll see, Casein does have a special application as well which you might want to consider. As for plant-based protein powders, although they spike protein synthesis to a smaller degree as animal-based protein powders do, this can be mitigated by ingesting a greater amount of plant protein powder and/or ensuring you get enough essential amino acids through your diet.
Next, when it comes to when to take it, most people think you have to take your protein shake immediately post-workout. But, research shows that it depends on whether or not you’re in a fed or fasted state. If you’ve had protein prior to your workout, a post-workout protein shake isn’t necessary and you can take it at anytime. Whereas if you worked out fasted, having it immediately post-workout is ideal. And if you haven’t eaten before the gym yet, then research suggests taking your Whey protein shake before your workout is the better option when compared to after.
As for how much to take, sticking to around 20-25g is enough to maximize protein synthesis – with 40g eliciting a slightly higher response. And as for how often to take it, you can take it daily (workout or not) to help you reach you goal daily protein intake.
Lastly, when it comes to what to take it with, although co-ingestion of protein powder with carbs and/or fats does slow down digestion, it does not affect protein synthesis rates. Thus meaning you can take it with whatever you’d prefer. With that being said, taking your protein powder with dairy milk when bulking and taking it with almond milk or water when cutting is a good option to help you easily increase/decrease your calorie intake.