Here is Emil Hodzovic, Medical Doctor & Coach, on the basics of whey protein. The who, why, what and when – Emil tells all!
Despite the huge range of protein varieties available these days, whey protein is always going to be the biggest player when it comes to protein shakes and for good reason.
It is a complete and balanced protein with high branched chain amino acid (BCAA) content and, importantly, it is fast digesting, rapidly getting vital amino acids to where they need to be. This makes it ideal as a meal replacement and before and after workouts.
Who is whey protein for and why?
Whey protein is an extremely useful tool for anyone who needs a convenient source of good quality protein. A lot of people incorrectly believe that drinking protein shakes will automatically cause them to gain muscle and become bulky, or that if they consume shakes and don’t train, the protein will turn to fat. Both of these misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth!
For people who train hard, whey protein is a prime candidate for convenience and can provide the perfect blend of amino acids. What’s more, it promotes the recovery and repair of damaged muscle fibres when taken immediately after gruelling sessions, whether those involve weights, cardio or training for sports.
Whey protein can be used by anyone, including people of all ages who are just starting out in their exercise careers. Even people who don’t train or are injured can take advantage of whey protein to increase their protein intake or use it as a low calorie, highly nutritious meal replacement.
Whey protein can also be used in cooking and to reduce the calories of a recipe as well as adding that important protein hit! Using different flavours of whey can add a twist to otherwise bland or boring recipes.
What to look for in a good protein supplement?
An effective protein supplement should be complete and balanced with a high proportion of BCAAs. Whey protein fits the bill perfectly and generally speaking beats most other sources of protein including soy protein. Soy protein is used a lot in the supplement industry and is the cheaper, poorer quality alternative to whey protein.
On top of this, when buying protein, you want a powder which mixes easily and is tasty to consume. This means finding a flavour that you like. My personal favourites at the moment include Instant Whey Pro Raspberry Delight and Chocolate Perfection as they are versatile and taste great whether I mix them with water, milk or almond milk. They also work well with oats or stirred in with yoghurt.
When is the best time to consume protein?
First thing in the morningIt can be difficult to find the time for protein first thing so this is a perfect time for a shake. This applies to anyone, whether you’re dieting, trying to build muscle or just need a convenient tasty snack before work. Personally, I am rarely hungry in the mornings and always in a rush but muscle retention is a priority for me so a shake with unsweetened almond milk and some fruit hits the spot perfectly.
Immediately post workout
This is the traditional time to use whey protein as you want a fast digesting, good quality protein with a complete amino acid profile to optimise the effects of the training session. It’s also hugely convenient and it means you don’t need to rush home or think about your next meal for a few hours.