Compared to the average gym goer, bodybuilders need more protein. For one thing, they carry more muscle mass, which requires regular amino acid intake in order to prevent muscle breakdown (catabolism). Of course, as a bodybuilder you don’t just want to maintain the mass that you’ve got, you want to increase it. And that takes even more protein.
To get all of that protein into your muscle cells, you need to do more than just take in lots of protein – you need to take in lots of high-quality protein. That means having high bioavailability, low fat, lactose and carbohydrate conduct and the purest protein possible. In this article, we identify the 5 Best Protein Powders for Bodybuilders. We’ll also provide some key tips to help you get the most muscle building benefit from your protein.
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5 Best Protein Powders for Bodybuilders
Best Type of Protein Powder for Bodybuilders
When it comes to packing on lean mass, bodybuilders need a protein powder that will provide them with the highest quantity and quality of amino acids possible. According to the research, that means taking both whey and casein protein. They are also the best for stimulating protein synthesis.
Whey protein digests more quickly in the body, making it ideal as a post workout supplement that will fast track amino acids to your stressed and damaged muscle cells. It will rapidly spike protein synthesis for a short duration. In contrast, casein is a slow digesting protein. It will provide the constant supply amino acids over an extended period of time. This makes it ideal to be taken in the evening before you go to bed, so that it can slowly release amino acids throughout the night time. It is during the night while you are sleeping, that your body does the majority of his repair and rebuilding work.
Whey protein contains more of the amino acid leucine, which is the most important of the BCAA’s. It has also been shown to be better at increasing protein synthesis than casein protein. So, if you have to choose between the two, go for whey. The purest form of whey protein is whey isolate. This formulation has removed the fat, lactose and carbohydrate to provide you with a higher protein account.
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How to Get the Most Out of Your Protein Powder
When to Take your Protein Powder
Having identified the best type of protein powder for bodybuilders, we next need to work out when is the best time to take it. For many years, it was believed that there was an anabolic window of between 20 and 30 minutes straight after your workout when you have to get your protein in. The belief was that your muscles are crying out for amino acids at that time in order to repair the muscle stress that has occurred during your workout. However, recent studies have debunked this myth.
The renewed understanding is that, provided that you had a pre-workout meal that contains a decent amount of protein, there is no need to rush to take in more protein immediately after your workout. Of course, if you go into the workout in a fasted state (such as when intermittent fasting), then you will want to take in a decent amount of protein within the hour after your workout.
The consensus from the research is that there is no need to worry about timing your protein intake around your workouts. So long as you are regularly taking protein with each of your meals (you should be getting 20 to 30 g of protein at each feeding), then you will be getting sufficient protein to repair and rebuild from your workout. That being said, however, there is nothing wrong with taking a post workout protein shake – it’s just that it is not essential.
As we mentioned in the previous section, you should get into the habit of taking a casein protein powder shake before going to bed. This will provide you with a steady supply of amino acids throughout the night and help to boost your body’s natural release of testosterone and hGH. You should take 40 g of casein protein each evening.
How Much Protein to Take
There has been a lot of debate about how much protein bodybuilders should take each day in order to maximise their muscle growth potential. The current consensus, based on research, is that taking 20 to 25 g of whey protein powder as part of a shake is about ideal to stimulate muscle growth. However, a recent study from 2016 suggests that a higher dosage may be more beneficial. In this study, participants who took 40 g of whey protein powder in their shake had greater muscle gains than a group who took just 20 g. Therefore, we recommend taking anywhere between 20 and 40 g per dosage.
So, how often should you take a protein shake throughout the day. This depends on what your total daily protein requirement is. You should always prioritise whole foods over protein supplements. Concentrate on getting your protein from eggs, chicken, beef, and fish.
You should aim to take in between 0.73 and 1 g of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you are working at the higher end of this scale and you weigh 180 pounds, you will be wanting to take in 180 g of protein per day. You should look to take about 120 g of that through whole food sources. That leaves 60 g to come from your protein shakes, which would equate to 2 shakes at a dosage of 30 g of protein per shake.
You do not want to take in too much protein. Excess protein can be metabolised into glucose and either used for energy or stored as excess body fat. That’s the last thing that any serious bodybuilder wants.
What to Take Your Protein With
When it comes to the question of what to take your protein powder with, the research indicates that protein synthesis is not slowed down by any other additives that are contained in the shake. What this means is that you can add whatever you like in order to increase the flavour of your protein shake. To increase the protein count, you can have it with milk. However, if you are lactose intolerant, you will want to use non-dairy milk. The highest protein count non-dairy milk is goat’s milk.
Feel free to also add fruit such as banana strawberries, peaches or blueberries. You may also wish to throw in a tablespoon of flaxseed or cinnamon.
If you are in a bulking phase, it would probably be wise to take your protein powder with dairy milk, if you are tolerable to this. As well as the additional protein, dairy milk will give you an extra hundred calories per serving. However, if you are in a cutting phase leading up to competition, you are better advised to take your protein powder with water or almond milk. This will help you to save around 100 cal per serving.
How Protein Builds Muscle
When you work out, you are damaging your muscle cells. This causes micro tears in your muscles that needs to be repaired. The amino acids that you get from protein are the material that is used for that repair work. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into its constituent amino acid parts. They then form into new proteins that are transported to your muscle cells in order to repair the micro tears that have occurred as a result of your training.
The damage that is taking place to your muscle fibres also stimulates what are called satellite cells. These satellite cells flood the damaged area where they multiply and fuse onto the damaged muscle fibres. In this way they repair the tears, making the muscle bigger and stronger.
This muscle repair strengthening and building process will only take place if you have a sufficient amount of the amino acids to create the proteins that are the building blocks of this whole process. In fact, you want enough protein coming into your system that there are actually excess amino acids that can be used to further muscle growth.
If you do not provide your body with a sufficient amount of protein, the damaged cells will not be able to fully repair your muscles and, as a result of that, you will end up weaker and smaller than you were before you worked out. In fact, in the absence of protein, your muscles are likely to start kept catabolising, or eating away at themselves.
Protein Foods for Bodybuilding?
You’re going to be focusing on a lot of lean proteins like chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, protein powder, and for the vegans, you can look at seitan or texturized soy protein
Whey Protein Side Effects?
If you are experiencing side effects from eating protein, the quality or quantity of protein in your diet is too low or high respectively
Best Protein powder for Muscle Gain for Beginners
For beginners a standard whey protein concentrate is going to be best, like the last one on this list of proteins