Hey readers, sorry about the delay between posts! I hope everyone is doing fine after the hurricane and snowstorm we encountered these past two weeks. School work and volunteering at my campus have occupied a majority of my time, everything should be back up and running smoothly from now on though!
I hear this all the time, and it couldn’t be further from the truth…
“If I start drinking protein shakes, I’m going to bulk up.”
Oh. I forgot that’s the consequences of protein intake. Bulkiness. I guess I should just start drinking 6 protein shakes a day to get to my set goal of 210 pounds. Okay in all seriousness though, this conception of protein has to change because it’s the key ingredient to achieving the goals that you truly are looking for when it comes to fitness, besides actual fitness. First thing’s first, however, what is protein?
Protein is one of the big three macronutrients that are a necessity in any diet. The other two, of course, are carbohydrates and fats. Protein molecules are made up of a chain, or multiple chains, of amino acids. In elementary school, we were all taught how amino acids are the building blocks of the body. This is how they come into play. There are twenty different amino acids that are used to create various proteins. To create these protein molecules, they align themselves up into different sequences due to the genetic code. Basically, amino acids are assigned a spot in line and create the specific protein with the help of a process called translation. Now that the boring stuff is out of the way (hopefully I didn’t put you guys to sleep!), let’s explain why protein won’t cause females to bulk up.
Testosterone is the main factor when it comes to dealing with bulking up. As you all know, testosterone is a hormone. This hormone exists in both males and females, but is seen at much higher levels in males.
So what the hell does this have to do with anything?
Well, testosterone effects muscle growth both directly and indirectly. Testosterone’s direct relationship with protein synthesis occurs when it connects to receptors on the face of muscle cells. When protein synthesis is increased, the muscles targeted through resistance training have the ability to adapt. In other words, these muscles grow! The indirect relationship testosterone has with muscle growth comes from its interaction with growth hormone (GH). Testosterone allows for the production rates of GH to increase. GH also increases protein synthesis as well as enables muscles to develop in size.
Because females do not have sufficient testosterone levels to support the increase in muscle growth the same way males do, protein supplements will not make them bulky (when used properly). Rather than growing in width like a bodybuilder, protein will help repair damaged muscle cells that lead to soreness after working out. This repair allows them to function stronger as well. Without protein, the ladies busting their asses in the gym are limiting their production of lean muscle, which could be the big difference between having that beach body or having that decent/mediocre/not as dreamy body.
Now that we’ve explained how protein works, we must discuss the types of protein out there. There’s multiple proteins available to us, we just have to make sure we’re making wise choices with the ones we buy.
Whey protein is known as the “post workout” protein. It is also easily the most popular protein supplement out there. Whey is rich in three amino acids key for muscle building: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. This protein can be digested in approximately two hours or so, basically meaning it is rapidly digested.
Casein protein, unlike whey, is a slow digesting protein. It takes approximately 8 hours or so to digest. Because it takes a while to digest, it is usually recommended that it is taken before bed. Another beneficial factor of casein is, it is not used as an energy source. Because of this, carbohydrates and fats are burned instead to produce energy. Casein has a much thicker texture than whey and is commonly found in weight gainers. (Females stay away from weight gainers!)
Eggs are a food product that supply a great level of essential amino acids to the body. Of the 20 amino acids that the body uses, 9 of them are essential. An essential amino acid basically means that the body cannot produce these on its own. Egg protein consists of the egg whites of an egg. The yolk is taken out, which causes the cholesterol levels of this protein to drop. I have never experimented with this protein, but it would definitely be a great alternative for people lactose intolerant.
Soy protein is a fast digesting protein source, like whey. However, soy does not have the amino acid density of these other three proteins. Therefore, it is my least suggested protein supplement. Soy protein does contain estrogen however, which could be beneficial in certain aspects for females.
Well, these are the 4 most common proteins you hear talked about, in my opinion. I personally have stuck to just whey and casein products, which have worked fine for me. It doesn’t hurt to experiment though, just make sure you’re doing it in smart and effective ways. By this, I stress that you read the nutrition labels on products you are buying. Some of these protein supplements out on the shelves are just plain garbage, glorified milk shakes. How is a shake with 20 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and a ridiculous number of sugars going to benefit me in the long run. Something like this will easily do more harm than good!
I am a big fan of BSN products, especially there protein powder called Syntha-6 (label above). They’re great tasting and produce results that you’re looking for!
Hopefully I convinced a reader or two on here that protein supplementation could be crucial if your protein intake is inadequate. Protein, and nutrition in general, could be the difference that makes or breaks your body for this upcoming summer! Got a question? Drop a comment below!