Protein is often referred to as the building block of muscle, which is why so many people consume a lot of meat, fish and nuts, for example, and why people will consistently knock back a few protein shakes every day in order to increase their intake even further.
Indeed the protein supplement industry seems to be growing all the time because you will find hundreds of these products online, with more being added all the time, and as well as being available to buy from health stores and sports shops, they are now being sold in supermarkets as well.
Nevertheless, despite their growing popularity, there are still many people within the health and fitness industries who are skeptical about their overall effectiveness.
So in this article I want to discuss whether or not protein shakes actually work, and share with you the results of a new study that has come up with some interesting findings.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a group of Canadian researchers looked at the results of 49 previous studies comprising a total of 1863 people, all of whom regularly worked out in the gym.
Their goal was to see if those people who consumed extra protein, whether through food, protein bars, powders or shakes, were able to build lean muscle mass more successfully.
After looking through all of this data, they concluded that ‘dietary protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged RET (resistance exercise training) in healthy adults‘.
Robert Morton, the lead author, said:
“Performing resistance exercise is an effective way to maintain or increase lean muscle mass.”
“Protein supplementation is sufficient and necessary to augment increases in muscle mass and strength during periods of resistance training.”
The Most Interesting Findings
These results will not come as any great surprise to those people (and I am including myself in this list) who have been working out for many years and consuming protein shakes and supplements on a regular basis.
However this group of researchers did make some very interesting observations:
– consuming more than 1.62 g of protein per day for every kg of bodyweight doesn’t seem to help you build any additional muscle mass
You will often hear industry experts telling us that consuming excessive amounts of protein will not necessarily benefit you any more, and this seems to be borne out by this latest study.
So as a general guide, you should consume no more than 81 g of protein per day if you weigh 50 kg, no more than 121.5 g of protein if you weigh 75 kg and no more than 162 g if you weigh 100 kg.
– protein doesn’t help older people as much as it helps younger people
Many people will notice that it becomes harder to control their weight and harder to build muscle as they get older, and the findings of this study suggest that consuming extra protein isn’t going to dramatically boost muscle growth either.
Therefore men might wish to take a natural testosterone or HGH booster as well in order to build muscle, and people of both sexes may well have to work harder in the gym to make gains.
– the benefits of extra protein were more pronounced for newer exercisers than for people who have have doing resistance training for a longer period of time
This is one of the more surprising findings, but I guess it would make sense that those people who are new to the gym have plenty of growth potential, and the combination of increased protein and regular strength training is sure to have a more noticeable effect.
Seasoned fitness fanatics, however, are more likely to have reached a plateau and may have limited potential to make a lot more gains.
The point is that protein supplements will indeed help you build muscle, but they will only be effective if you are doing plenty of muscle-building exercises at home or in the gym as well.
Furthermore, you should be wary of consuming too much protein because taking more than 1.62 g of protein for every kg of bodyweight has no added benefits at all, and will probably do more harm than good.
If you read this article, you will discover some of the drawbacks of protein shakes that no-one ever tells you about, such as the excessive bloating that they can cause, for example, and you will see that there are a few adverse side effects that you should be aware of.
So the best strategy is to get as much protein from your diet as you can, and use supplements to increase your intake even further if you are serious about building muscle, but only up to the maximum recommended amount.