A whirlwind of branding, testimonials and tanned muscle men that look nothing like your reflection in the mirror can leave anyone feeling swamped by options. With powders, shakes, liquids, bars, capsules and snacks, the array can be baffling. But, armed with a little bit of know-how, you’ll be navigating the health supply aisles with ease in no time.
Sportsmen take on extra protein to increase muscle mass, gain weight, improve athletic performance and erode body fat to reveal defined muscles. Additional protein can also boost metabolism, however, it is not going to exercise your body for you. So be warned, the work is down to you.
Types of protein: Whey Protein, Milk Protein and Soya Protein are some of the main ones. To avoid being bamboozled, just make sure your chosen snack doesn’t have too much fat, processed junk, salt or sugar. Some formulas will include branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) which help the body build muscle.
Forms to take it in: If you’re intimidated by a heavyweight commitment, try out a protein-enriched snack bar or spread which is similar to what you already eat. If the additional nutrition suits your exercise regime then why not explore a wider range of its guises?
Health risks: Several studies have pointed out the increased pressure on the kidneys which protein supplements can cause. Other research has detected excess calcium loss with increases in protein powder consumption and long-term use can increase the risk of osteoporosis. It's therefore very unwise to go over the recommended maximum intake.
Do I really need it? As with any food supplement, it’s important to ask yourself if the extra nutrition you’re putting into your body is absolutely necessary. As well as being expensive and space-invading, protein additives could just be downright bad for you, depending on your lifestyle. Unless you’re prepared to pull your weight at the gym (although not literally), give the power powder a miss.