Written by Matt Couch, head coach at Train Heroic.
Before we get into what kind of protein powder we actually need to “see gains” lets talk about what happens (structurally) when we workout or play a sport.
When we workout, we create “micro-tears” in our muscles, nothing severe, but we need to recover and repair those muscles before we have a chance at hitting another workout any time soon. The macronutrient we need to repair muscle tissue is PROTEIN. There are two ways to help aid during this breakdown and “re-building” phase and both involve protein. Protein is the basic building blocks of the human body. Without protein, the body will start to break down your own muscles for its needs; this is a BAD thing. The first way to help aid in the breakdown is through whole foods, I am a huge advocate of eating real food whenever possible. The best forms of whole food proteins for building muscle are chicken, turkey, lean red meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. For the athletes that can’t stand the sight of real food or have trouble keeping food down post workout then a protein shake might be the next best option. Protein powder shakes are our second way to help restore our depleted bodies after working out.
Some common types of protein powders that you will see are WHEY, CASEIN, SOY, and most recently PEA. WHEY protein is viewed as the easiest and most effective source out there and it is what we at Train Heroic suggest you take. WHEY protein is a prime pick for a post workout protein powder because of its relatively high concentration of essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) and its fast digestion. We are trying to get anywhere from 20-40grams of protein within our 30 minute “window” after we workout. During this “window of opportunity,” your muscles are primed to accept nutrients (protein) that can stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth, and muscle strength!
What To Look For When Buying Whey Protein Powder
It is a marketing specialist’s job to convince and entice you to use their product. Be wary of the gimmicks of bright colors and over-promises on the label to catch your attention and ultimately get you to buy their product. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside, it’s what’s “inside” that counts. Here at Train Heroic, we encourage you to dig deep and find it within yourself to excel in a workout. Now we challenge you to “dig deep” into your ingredient labels and know exactly what you are actually putting into your body. The best protein powder isn’t always the most expensive and eye-catching but the perfect combination of quality ingredients taken at the right time.
What you should look for in buy a Protein Powder:
- At least 20 Grams of Protein
- 2 grams or less of Fat
- 5 grams or less of Carbohydrate
- Limited amounts of ingredients (you should be able to pronounce and know off the top of your head all the ingredients that are going into your protein powder. Be wary of long lists with words that sound like a science experiment i.e. “Red No.40, Titanium Dioxide, Magnesium stearate, silicone dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose”
- No wheat, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated vegetable oils
Protein Powders That I Recommend
- PRO – 24g
- CARB – 2g
- FAT – 1g
- 7 Ingredients: Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Peptides), Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Natural Flavor, Lecithin, Acesulfame Potassium, Salt
- Price – $51.49/2lbs
- PRO – 23g
- CARB – 3g
- FAT – 1g
- 5 Ingredients: Whey Concentrate, Natural Chocolate flavors, Sunflower Lecithin, Setvia
- Price – $44.99/2lbs
- PRO – 23g
- CARB – 3g
- FAT – 2g
- 6 Ingredients: Grass Fed Whey, Xantham gum, stevia, natural chocolate, salt, apple pectin
- Price – $69.99/2lbs
- PRO – 31g
- CARB – 11g
- FAT – 1g
- 5 Ingredients: Whey Protein Isolate (hydrolyzed), fructose, leucine, isoleucine, sucralose.
- Price – $69.95/2lbs
“Train Heroic strongly recommends that you first consult your physician or other qualified health care professional before using any dietetic or nutritional supplement. Read all packaging labels closely and follow the recommended servings carefully. Generally speaking, a healthy diet of non-processed foods, comprised of a balance of fresh leafy vegetables, fruits, and meats and free from processed sugars will sufficiently prepare you to win in the gym.”
New to the recruiting process? See what college programs you might quality for by creating your free NCSA Athletic Recruiting profile