Shelve your confusion about protein powder with this scoop from David Pearson, CSCS, director of strength research at Ball State University.
Benefits of protein
Protein serves as a building material for all the structures in your body, including muscle, skin and bones. Post-exercise, protein can also help reduce muscle soreness.
You need about one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. To figure that out, Pearson offers this formula: body weight [lbs] /2.2 x 1 = daily recommend amount of protein For instance, if you weigh 185 pounds, you need about 84 grams of protein daily. Pearson recommends getting protein from real food, like milk, eggs, fish and lean meat; however, a protein powder can supplement your diet if it provides less than your total daily amount. He advises against more than one serving of protein powder per day, though.
Related Video: Calculating Your Daily Protein Needs
When to consume
Refuel within 60 minutes of a workout, because that’s when your muscles are best able to use the protein. According to Pearson, taking protein before a workout is counterproductive. “It sits in your stomach and may give you gastrointestinal distress [stomach cramps],” he says.
Supplementing your diet with a protein powder is most appropriate at the beginning phase of conditioning or when your strength training is at its heaviest.
Type of powder
Aim for a powder that contains whey protein, which is derived from cow’s milk and is regarded as the highest quality natural protein.
Pearson also recommends powders that are rich in branched chained amino acids [BCAAs], especially valine, leucine and isoleucine. “Those three are the ones that really work the magic in muscle repair, post workout,” he says.
EAS 100% Whey Protein
*Calories: 120 // Protein: 23g // Carbs: 3g // Fat: 2g
$14.99 [30-serving container]
Designer Whey All Natural
Flavor: French Vanilla
*Calories: 100 // Protein: 18g // Carbs: 2g // Fat: 2g
$15.99 [12.7 ounce container]
Cytosport Complete Whey
Flavor: Strawberry Banana
*Calories: 90 // Protein: 18g // Carbs: 1g // Fat: 1.5g
$19.95 [16 oz. container]
Body Fortress 100% Premium Whey Protein
*Calories: 100 // Protein: 23g // Carbs: 3g // Fat: 2g
$18.99 [two-pound container]