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PROTEIN 101: The Basics about Usage and Types

There was a time back-in-the-day when upping your protein intake meant raw eggs and baked potatoes 15 times a day. Not only is that difficult to consume, but you risked gettin sick form the eggs and bloated form the excessive digestion. Nowadays, proteins have become safer, more convenient, and more effective( not to mention much better tasting than raw eggs).

Now, with all the different kinds of protein you may be wondering" Well, George, which protein is right for me?" The answer to that may be simple or complicated. Each will have a different use and effect based on your level of activity, fitness goals, and your body's natural tendencies. For the sake of thouroughness, I will break down proteins into six basic categories, and three major structural forms.

1. Concentrates (lower protein level, more economical),
2. Isolates (higher protein level, more expensive), and
3. Hydrolysates (partially broken down for faster digestion & absorption).

Each type of protein has a different use and results. By better understanding the types of protein and what they do, you can pick which would best fit into your lifestyle.

1. WHEY PROTEINS (Hydrolysate)
Arguably, the reigning champ of all proteins, with the most versatile applications, and usually the quickest results. Whey proteins are quickly and easily digested (which is why they are extra useful as a post-workout drink), they are loaded with Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)–including the three Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs, MORE ON THESE LATER). Whey protein account for a large percent of the protein in most foods, including 20% of the protein in milk. This is the most common form of protein, regularly used for weight gain and muscle building, or as a quick high protein meal replacement. CAREFUL with these if you have a light/easy workout routine. If you are not burning off enough carbs/calories the high protein concentration will make you gain weight in body fat.

My personal favorite because of my fast metabolism. This is considered a slower acting "Time Release" type of protein. It is actually the other 80% of the protein in milk. Casein proteins are great to take if you are a heavy lifter/high cardio athlete right before bedtime. They digest slowly in 5-8 hour periods, and can be great in stopping catabolic states (another topic we will discuss at length later). Catabolic states in the body break down amino acids and muscle fiber, which defeats the purpose of trying to gain muscle. This protein ensures you stay fed overnight without destroying muscle you worked so hard to gain. It is also extra responsible for helping recovery times by letting your body focus on building muscle tissue and breaking down lactic acid(the acid that fatigues you and makes you sore, again, another topic for later) in order to prepare for the next day. This can be taken if you are in a position where you will not be able to eat for several hours during a work or schoolday for example. Casein proteins combine well with Whey proteins for total muscle supplementation.

3. MILK PROTEINS (concentrates, soy is included here)
Milk proteins are dried milk with most of the fat and carbohydrate removed. Like liquid moo juice, powdered milk proteins
are about 20% whey protein and 80% casein, so utilization is intermediate. The soy counterparts, such as Muscle milk are great for people on diets because of the low carbs, and help build muscle which is the best fat burner known to man.

4. EGG PROTEINS (concentrates)
HI in albumen, these egg based proteins have everything you need since eggs have become the standard for protein consumption. Egg based proteins are a great dairy-free ALTERNATIVE for those who arevegetarian, allergic to components in protein powders, or have lactose intolerance. Be aware that Amino acid supplementation is a good idea since eggs have most EAA's(essential amino acids) and lack BCAA's (branched chain amino acids). These are great for the casual gym-goer, and women as well.

5. BLENDED PROTEINS (all three)
Blended proteins are usually a combination of all three forms of protein and are readily available in the forms of bars, powders, and even baking materials. This protein is similar to Egg based proteins except that they will usually help hold off hunger a bit longer, because they are obviously longer lasting than a single source protein because they take longer to break down in digestion.

6. RECOVERY PROTEINS (all three)
There are moderate calorie, fast-acting protein and carbohydrate combinations specifically designed to be consumed immediately after workouts when nutrient needs are great and glycogen and muscle protein re-synthesis are at their peak. Many also contain whey protein hydrolysates and supplemental ingredients like creatine, BCAAs, and glutamine to further aid the recovery and rebuilding process.


Look, BUYING A PROTEIN ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE, but don't just pick stuff up randomly either. Choose the wrong type and you'll intake too much, which probably won't agree with your stomach very well. Worse yet, don't get enough and get maximum gains – or any gains at all. The form (or forms, remember you can combine) of protein you select, how protein per serving, and the absence or presence of carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, are other things can make all the difference.

For most people, the rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. People who are trying to bulk up/add size may need as much as 1.5 g protein/lb. body weight/day.
You should also plan on eating some extra protein (1.25-1.5 g/lb/day) if you’re trying to lose weight on higher-protein, lower carbohydrate diets, as some of the amino acids will be burned for fuel. These amounts include all of the protein consumed through foods, beverages, and supplements. What’s more, your daily protein allotment should be spread out over 4-6 smaller meals to enhance absorption and utilization. If you’re a big meat, fish,
poultry, egg, and dairy food eater, you can probably get by with a smaller “hit” of protein from your drink. Vegetarians and others who eat lots of starchy foods will benefit more from a higher-protein since they don't need as many carbs.

Here's how to calculate how much protein you're actually getting based on the nutritional facts on the protein.

PURE PROTEIN PERCENTAGE is a way to compare proteins. While the Nutrition Facts panel tells you how much
protein is in each serving, the protein percentage tells you how pure your protein is. To calculate, Divide the grams of
protein in a single serving by the serving size and multiply by 100. Here’s an example using two different proteins.
The first contains 24 grams of protein and has a serving size of 29.4 grams; the second contains 26 grams of protein in a
35 gram serving size.

24 g protein / 29.4 g serving size x 100
= 81.6% pure protein

26 g protein / 35 g serving size x 100
= 74.3% pure protein

So although the second one looks like more at first glance, upon further inspection, you can see you're getting more pure protein in the first protein and that would be the smarter choice.

Remember, you are attempting to TRANSFORM your body, it won't happen overnight. Allow up to 3 months to saturate your system and notice impressive gains/losses. All good things come with time, reshaping your body is no different. All too often people quit on a protein/workout before they've alloted sufficient time for the changes to begin taking place.

STEP 4 : TIMING! (When you take protein is just as important as what you're taking!)

FIRST THING IN THE MORNING: The period between when you go to bed and wake up in the morning is the longest that your body goes without food. “Break the fast” with protein, or a good protein rich breakfast. Either will do fine.

PRE-WORKOUT: By drinking a protein shake about an hour before your workout, you’ll “prime” your body for growth with BCAAs and other essential amino acids. Whey and egg proteins are a good choice, because they are easy to drink and quickly digested.

POST-WORKOUT: The 30-60 minute time frame following exercise is the single most important time of the day to get protein. Enzymes and hormones are actively repairing and rebuilding exercise-induced damage as well as replenishing glycogen stores, so your muscles are especially receptive to nutrients. By supplying a post-workout recovery protein containing whey, casein, egg, and simple carbohydrates during this “window” of
opportunity, you’ll help ensure that you’re recharged and ready for your next training session.

BETWEEN MEALS: Consuming a protein shake in between meals not only helps keep muscle synthesis maximized, it also helps keep body fat and body weight in check. Proteins help stimulate the release of gut hormones that trigger a feeling of fullness or satiety. Dairy proteins (whey, casein, and milk) are considered to be better appetite blunters than other protein sources – especially when combined with dietary fiber – so choose a product with
one or more of these proteins if weight control is part of your goals. THIS IS IMPORTANT IF YOU'RE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT. When you skip meals, you slow your metabolism! Eat small, eat often! IF YOU'RE TRYING TO GAIN WEIGHT EAT OFTEN, EAT BIG, LIFT BIG, SLEEP BIG.

BEFORE BED: Prepare your body for the long fast ahead with a casein protein shake a half an hour before bed. Unlike whey which is rapidly broken down in the gut, casein is digested at a much slower rate releasing its amino acid constituents over several hours throughout the night while you sleep.

This one speaks for itself. Do what you do, do it right, do it consistently. Be motivated, and when you're not, look for motivation. Work hard, often people don't push themselves hard enough or long enough. Either work out lighter for longer or shorter and super hard. But don't work out lightly for 20 minutes. You're not helping the supplements do they're jobs. Don't cheat, and keep positive. Earn respect from your body, and it will respond accordingly.

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