Protein powders are the biggest-selling supplement on the market today. After all, it takes a great deal of protein to build muscle and powder makes for a convenient way to get in the extra protein you need, especially when you need it most—around workouts. Study after study confirms that the use of protein powders, particularly those containing whey, along with a weight-training program, enhances muscle growth and strength gains.
But if you’re gonna be dropping paper on product, then you need to be a bit more discerning. Any protein powder worth the jug its dropped in will contain three key ingredients: whey, leucine and digestive enzymes. You can train yourself to be a label hawk with the info that follows but we also provide a handful of quick picks for you if you’d prefer to cut out the guesswork.
There are many types of protein from which to choose and they all have their benefits but whey is the undisputed king of proteins for physique-minded gym aficionados. It’s quick to digest, which means that you’ll be getting that much needed dose of its component amino acids in a hurry. This amps up your rate of protein synthesis (read: muscle-building), making it a no-brainer for keeping your gains on track. As a bonus, whey boosts blood flow, helping you get more of those aminos where they need to go. One study showed that those who supplemented with whey for 14 weeks had 25 percent more muscle growth than a group that abstained from the stuff. Oh yeah…whey also supports body composition. Twelve weeks of whey supplementation – two shakes a day – helped one test group lose an average of five pounds of bodyfat and an inch in their waistline.
Your daily protein intake of about 1-1.5 grams per pound of your body weight daily—particularly when a large amount of it comes from whey—leads to significant gains in muscle and strength. The three best forms of whey available are: whey concentrate, whey isolate (which is purer protein), and whey hydrolysate, which is the purest form of protein avaliable on the market today.
Research confirms that leucine acts as a critical switch that turns on the muscle protein synthesis, which leads to building muscle. Study, schmudy, you say? Well, consider that the data showed adding leucine to a protein drink during exercise increases muscle protein synthesis by over 30%. Think that 30 percent can do anything for those lagging pecs of yours?
Why is leucine a wonder supp? Dropping some fancy labcoat speak on you, leucine activates a complex called mTOR, which jacks up protein synthesis, helping you to recover faster and more completely than you would in a leucine-less existence. Leucine also increases the release of insulin, making it especially critical post-workout, when this effect drives more aminos and nutrients to beat-down muscle bellies.
Consuming leucine helps to ensure that more of the amino acids from whey will be utilized to build more muscle.
When you’re investing in a protein supplement, you want to make sure that the stuff is getting where it needs to go. Some products are tougher to digest than others, meaning incomplete uptake of those muscle-building aminos that your body needs for growth. Some manufacturers have wised up to this fact and have added digestive enzymes such as proteases, peptidase, pepsin, trypsin, chymotrypsin, bromelain, papain, and enzymes to the mix to ensure more efficient delivery. This helps to ensure that you’re wasting less of your protein powder. Less waste translates to greater growth and better overall bang for your buck.