People love protein powders.
They’re like the religious iconic symbol for all that is good in the universe.
But there is nothing good about taking something that should taste like absolute crap, and turning it into something that tastes like cheesecake, or chocolate, or peanut butter, or whatever other flavour you like.
That is just another day in the life of a food processor and manufacturer.
If you asked me, people who use protein powders for desserts are trying to justify that they’re eating ‘healthy’ when they’re not. Desserts are desserts.
So they make cookies, brownies and pancakes with protein powders and tell themselves that it’s okay, because it’s ‘protein’.
That’s not to say all protein powders are created equal. There are some pure, unflavoured protein powders on the market, but the brands that do sell them are so few you can count them on your fingers.
And even then, you’re better of using plain flour in your desserts because they just taste like crap.
Repeat after me…
Protein powders are not for everyone.
AND even the people who can tolerate it should only ever have it post training. Not as meals, not as snacks, not as a bedtime mass gainer…
The market is clever in marketing it as ‘protein’, when really, the majority of it is made up of highly toxic compounds.
So, let’s set some simple ground rules:
- If you are a male and not sub 12% body fat, no protein shakes.
- If you are a female and not sub 14% body fat, no protein shakes.
- If you don’t tolerate dairy, no protein shakes.
- If on the BioSignature, your priorities are supra, no protein shakes.
- If your body fat goes up taking a shake, protein powders are not for you.
Before spending money on a protein powder, it’s worth considering using BCAAs first.
Especially if you’re on comp prep, and you want to increase muscle mass whilst decreasing body fat, BCAAs are essential.
Here are some quick facts to get you started:
- Leucine is an important regulator of protein synthesis. In other words, it ‘spares your muscles’
- When consumed during training, BCAAs raise both growth hormone and insulin, hence promoting anabolism (muscle building) and suppressing catabolism (muscle breakdown). 1 ,2
- BCAAs can be used as a form of energy by the muscles. They can have a glucose sparing effect (Side note: this can be undesirable as they can affect glucose levels in the body and insulin sensitivity) 1
- BCAAs not only prevent a decrease in testosterone levels post workout, but also increase testosterone levels. 2
- BCAAs create an anti-catabolic effect by favouring better testosterone/cortisol ratios.2
- BCAAs can reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) 3
- BCAAs can prevent exercise induced mental fatigue 4
If you are going to use BCAAs, opt for the unflavoured powder or capsules (which are also unflavoured).
Research supports pre, post and during training supplementation of BCAA’s, and the total dosage depends on body size.
Examples of dosage:
- 3 grams pre, during and post training.
- 3 grams pre, 3 grams post training
But beware of overdoing it, because high doses of BCAAs can cause undesired health issues.
A downstream regulatory enzyme (Branched-Chain α-Ketoacid Dehydrogenase Complex, BCKDC) involved in BCAA metabolism also requires 4 other cofactors: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5). These B vitamins are essential for many physiological processes in the body and overdosing BCAAs will deplete your levels of B vitamins, which is important in anxiety and mood regulation, mental clarity and cognition and many more physiological functions. 5
1 Yoon MS. The emerging role of branched-chain amino acids in insulin resistance and metabolism. Nutrients. 2016 Jul 1;8(7):405.
2 Sharp CP, Pearson DR. Amino acid supplements and recovery from high-intensity resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2010 Apr 1;24(4):1125-30.
3 Shimomura Y, Inaguma A, Watanabe S, Yamamoto Y, Muramatsu Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism. 2010 Jun;20(3):236-44.
4 Blomstrand E. A role for branched-chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue. The Journal of nutrition. 2006 Feb 1;136(2):544S-7S.
5 Harris RA, Joshi M, Jeoung NH, Obayashi M. Overview of the molecular and biochemical basis of branched-chain amino acid catabolism. The Journal of nutrition. 2005 Jun 1;135(6):1527S-30S.
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