Protein powder and other sports nutrition supplements have soared in popularity in recent years. They’re no longer consumed only by bodybuilders and athletes, but regular gym-goers and people wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle too.
Research from Mintel published in 2016 showed that people in the UK spent £66 million on sports nutrition products in 2015, with 1 in 4 consuming a product from this category in the previous 3 months - and these figures are only likely to have grown since.
Of those surveyed, 9% had consumed protein powder, while another 9% had eaten a protein bar. What’s more, 24% were interested in adding protein powder to their meals to further increase their protein consumption.
Emma Clifford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, commented: “Sales are booming, and at the heart of this strong performance is that the appeal of these products is expanding beyond the small pool of the most elite sportspeople and fans.
“The category is increasingly attracting ‘lifestyle’ users who see these products fitting in with a healthy, active lifestyle.”
The research showed that 41% of Brits were using high-protein products simply to make sure they were getting enough protein, 37% were trying to support a healthy lifestyle, 36% wanted to feel fuller for longer, and 25% used sports nutrition products to either lose or maintain weight.
Although there are lots of different products that fall into the sports nutrition category, protein powder is among the most popular. Here, we’re going to take a detailed look at what exactly it is, how it works, and when it’s best to use it to help you achieve your goals.
What Is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a type of sports nutrition supplement that’s designed to help you increase the amount of protein you’re consuming.
Protein powder is often used by people who want to bulk up and build muscle; achieving these goals through diet would require a lot of expensive ingredients and time-consuming food prep, which is why many people choose to use protein powder instead.
You can use protein powder to kickstart your morning, as part of a post-workout meal, or throughout your day to satisfy your protein requirements.
There are new protein supplements coming to the market all the time, with the most popular types of protein powder including:
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
- Soy protein
- Egg protein
- Brown rice protein
- Hemp protein
- Mixed plant protein
What Is Whey Protein Powder?
Whey protein powders are made using proteins that have been isolated from whey - a liquid byproduct from cheese production that’s naturally high in protein. Whey protein can be absorbed much quicker than casein protein, so it’s a good option when you need some last-minute protein before your workout. The nature of whey protein of course means that it isn’t vegan, but there are other plant-based options on the market.
At Complete Strength, we have both whey isolate and whey concentrate protein powders, designed to help you increase your protein consumption on your journey to your goals.
The difference between whey isolate and whey concentrate is that whey isolate typically undergoes more processing than whey concentrate. As a result, whey isolate protein tends to contain more protein, but fewer fats, carbs, and lactose.
Complete Strength Whey Isolate contains less than 1g of fat per serving, and it’s seriously easy to use. Available in both 1kg and 2kg tubs, you can try it in flavours including:
- Salted Caramel
- Chocolate Coconut
- Eton Mess
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Coconut Cream
- Chocolate Orange
- Chocolate Banana
Meanwhile, Complete Strength Whey Concentrate contains 23g of protein and 2.2g of fat per serving, and it tastes great, thanks to flavours including:
- Coconut Cream
- Cookies and Cream
- Chocolate Banana
- Eton Mess
- Salted Caramel
- Cinnamon Cereal
- Chocolate Orange
- Vanilla Ice Cream
What Does Protein Powder Do?
Protein powder can have multiple benefits, depending on the formula and brand you choose. Some protein powders can act as a meal replacement, while others can be used to support weight loss by helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Many athletes incorporate protein powder into their training regime because:
- Protein powder can help to build and tone muscles
- It can help to repair post-workout muscle damage
- It helps to repair damaged tissue too, which is particularly crucial after a workout
Ultimately, protein powder allows you to incorporate extra protein in your diet, which can be necessary for lots of reasons, but is especially important for people who follow a vegan diet. Look for plant-based, pea-based, or soy proteins if you need a vegan protein powder.
Is Protein Powder Good For You?
There may be many benefits of protein powder, but it’s important to make sure you’re consuming it in the recommended way to ensure it continues to be good for you.
Protein powder is designed to help people to meet their nutritional needs, which is of course a good thing. However, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of how your protein powder is made and exactly what ingredients it contains, as some formulas may contain hidden sugars.
Complete Strength protein powders are made using the highest quality ingredients, and you can be sure you’re getting an athlete-approved product.
How To Use Whey Protein In Your Training Routine
If you already consume a high-protein diet, you won’t necessarily need to use a protein supplement - speak to your personal trainer or a nutritionist if you’re unsure of your individual needs.
However, if you have a big race or competition coming up, or you need to build muscle and strength quickly for a bodybuilding content or another reason, incorporating protein powder into your routine could help you to:
- Build muscle
- Lose fat
- Increase strength
Aim to incorporate protein powder into your training regime before your workouts to make sure your body has the nutrients it needs for muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth).
Some athletes also like to consume protein powder after a workout to help repair damaged muscles and tissue.
How Much Protein Powder Do I Need Each Day?
The amount of protein you need to fuel your body each day will depend on your goals; you’ll need to consume more if you’re trying to bulk up, for example. The British Heart Foundation explains that most adults need to consume 0.75g of protein for every kilo of their body weight each day. For women, this comes in at around 45g of protein per day, with this rising to 55g for men; active athletes should double these quantities.
If you’re using protein powder, it’s usually recommended that you use 1-2 scoops a day, depending on your goals. Check the protein content of the powder you’re using to see how much you need to top this up with protein-rich foods.
Does Protein Powder Make You Gain Weight?
If you’re consuming a lot of extra protein, whether via your diet or from protein supplements, it’s natural to wonder if weight gain is a risk. However, incorporating protein powder into your diet shouldn’t cause you to gain weight, unless you’re regularly consuming more calories than you’re burning.
This means that you need to think about everything you’re consuming during the day to make sure the additional protein powder isn’t increasing your caloric intake too much. If you’re unsure what to cut from your diet to balance out the extra protein, speak to a personal trainer or nutritionist.
How To Make A Protein Shake
Making a protein shake is much quicker than preparing a high-protein meal, which means you can easily fit protein powder into your lifestyle, even when you have a busy training schedule.
Here’s how to make a protein shake:
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 100ml of liquid (water or milk - either plant-based or dairy)
- In a shaker or blender, add the protein powder and liquid
- Shake or blend until all of the powder has dissolved
- Drink immediately
You can also try adding protein powder to smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, and even some baking recipes. In each case, you simply need to make sure the protein powder is thoroughly dissolved to avoid any unpleasant clumps.
When Should You Drink Protein Shakes?
Whether you drink a protein shake or eat a protein-rich meal, you need some protein in your system before you exercise to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to kickstart the process of muscle protein synthesis.
If you do consume a protein shake before your workout and you’re trying to build muscle, it’s important to make sure you’ve eaten as well; otherwise, your body may start to burn muscle rather than fat, potentially hindering your progress.
There is lots of debate around exactly when you should drink a protein shake after a workout, with some recommending between 15 and 60 minutes after a workout, and others suggesting that anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours can still be beneficial.
Ultimately, you need to make sure you’re consuming protein soon after your workout during what’s known as the anabolic window, which is when your muscles are able to absorb the most protein.
Why Complete Strength?
Complete Strength protein powders are made for athletes, by athletes. Designed with real results in mind and made using high-quality, patented ingredients, you can be sure you’re choosing the athlete’s choice.
We pride ourselves on innovation and on using the highest quality ingredients in the game, setting the standard in the market by creating supplements we truly believe in.
Try our 5-star quality service for yourself today and #BelievetheHype. Shop the full Complete Strength collection here, or contact us if you have a question about any of our products.