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.
You’ve done the powders. You’re done with the shakes. Here are some alternative ideas when desire for a protein-filled pick-me-up strikes:
Eggs: Unless you’re slightly unhinged, we don’t recommend eating these raw (although it would be perfectly safe to do so).
Biltong: Don’t forget that good meat doesn’t have to mean hard work. Why not try Safari Biltong?
Peanut butter: Enjoy a sweet treat guilt free as peanuts are a natural source of good fats and protein.
Yoghurt: Combining casein and whey protein, this low-lactose snack can be eaten plain to reduce unnecessary sugar.
Protein flapjack: Watch out for bad fats in some brands, but Battle Oats have a range of low-GI, high protein oat bars.
Sushi: Look for a good quality retailer or make your own with salmon, tuna, crab, prawn and more. If you’re not the biggest fan of raw fish, opt for a sweet omelette nigiri.
A bit thin on top? If you’re not content with the grin-and-bear-it approach or wearing a hat, there are international institutions that will help you. A good indication of reliability is accreditation through the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), which has members in 70 countries. But the procedure is no quick fix, a scalp op is serious business and involves recovery time, health risks and will cost a pretty penny.
London, UK: Harley street is world-renown for its cosmetic surgery clinics, and a quick search will bring up numerous trustworthy institutions. Wayne Rooney famously had his scalp serviced here.
New York, USA: It is no surprise that the world’s elite gather in major cities. For a thicker head of hair, you could do much worse than swing by the Big Apple.
Istanbul, Turkey: A growing number of positive reviews from various clinics in Turkey’s capital is upping its hair replacement reputation. Indeed, the European-Asian nation carries out more of these procedures than any other country. Transplants are cheaper here, but don’t base your decision on this factor alone.
Delhi or Mumbai, India: Although it’s a long way to go, the southern Asian nation is highly regarded for its scientific research in the field of medicine. The Indian Association of Hair Restoration Surgery has some sage advice on how to choose a doctor.
Hungary: Again, if you’re looking to save some dough, this eastern European region could be the way to go. Unlike Asian or American nations, surgeries here must adhere to EU standards.