If you go to the gym, the chances are high that you also use protein supplements, such as a protein powder, to increase your protein intake to help build muscle. But, choosing the best protein powder for you isn’t always the easiest task, considering the incredibly vast selection on offer, all of which claim to provide the best benefits to help you pile on muscle, quicker.
But, is there actually any difference in the protein powders we choose to consume? According to Adam Sullivan, fitness coach and owner of Evidence Based Training, an “online training and nutrition platform that provides individualised strategies to fat loss and other fitness related goals,” the answer is no.
Adam has been taking Instagram and TikTok by storm lately with his brutally honest videos, busting various myths surrounding fitness – and fat loss predominantly – taking a no-nonsense approach to fitness and nutrition advice.
One of Adam’s recent videos concerns protein powders, with him answering the question “do you need a protein supplement?” Getting straight to the point, Adam says, “they’re all the f***ing same.”
“Stop reading the labels with all these bullshit claims, fat burning, this or that. Shred protein 500, lean gains 300.”
He goes on to explain what protein supplements actually do in their most basic sense. “If you are not hitting your protein requirements through diet, you use the supplement to hit them.”
“A protein supplement is an easy way to help you achieve your protein goals. So, if you are not already consuming 1.6 to 2.2 grams [of protein] per kilo of body weight per day, then a supplement may be useful for you. If you are, it’s probably going to do jack shit.”
“So, which supplement should you get if you need one? Probably one you like the taste of because protein is protein.”
In the comments section of his video, posted to both TikTok and Instagram, one user asks if there is any tangible difference between getting your protein from whole foods, compared to powders. Adam admits, perhaps contrary to belief, that protein powders are indeed a great source of protein.
We have previously discussed protein powders, and ones you should perhaps avoid, in a previous article, with help from Mark Robinson, a practising Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science. In that post, Mark said you should avoid protein powders that contain vegetable oils and fats, artificial sweeteners and dextrins.
Protein powders, as a product, have always been the subject of debate. Nutritionist Max Lugavere has also previously weighed in on the debate, adding that some vegetable-based protein powders can contain heavy metals, and powders made with rice protein can even contain trace quantities of arsenic.
Going off Adam’s video, however, this isn’t something you need to worry about. If the goal is to increase your protein intake, and you can’t hit your target through whole foods alone – meals such as the My Muscle Chef meals can be an easy and effective way to hit your macro targets – then chugging a protein shake is a perfectly acceptable way to do so.
There is evidence to suggest the optimal time to drink your protein shake is within 30-minutes of completing your workout, according to Dr Gabrille Lyon. In a podcast interview with Max Lugavere, she says, “You have to drink it within half an hour. The goal for muscle health is to get the boldest amount of amino acids in the bloodstream at once.”
You may or may not agree with Adam’s message, but, the bottom line is, just use a protein supplement you enjoy the taste of and which you can afford. If you practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, then opt for protein supplements free of dairy products, of course. For the majority, we may just be sold on marketing, when the actual product is all the same.