Protein is a macronutrient the body needs for energy, proper functioning of the immune system, balancing of blood’s pH level, and muscle growth and preservation. Protein supplements are food products, nutrition and protein sources suitable for athletes and bodybuilders to achieve their daily desired protein intake. Protein bars, protein powder, meal replacements, and weight gainers are types of protein supplements available.
Generally, protein supplements are fortified with minerals and vitamins and contain 20 to 30 protein grams per serving. Sources of proteins used in protein supplements include whey protein, casein protein, soy protein, egg albumin, pea protein, wheat protein, goat milk, and whole dairy milk. However, it is important you take protein supplements not only in the right proportions but also at the right order to obtain the best results.
When to take protein supplements for best results
1. In the morning: The body needs a fast-digesting protein source after being in a ‘fasting’ condition through the night, Musashi suggests. The morning protein intake ensures a positive nitrogen balance in your body.
2. Pre- and post- workout: The pre-workout meal should contain slow-digesting protein powder to keep your body in positive nitrogen balance. The post-workout meal should be a mixture of slow- and fast-digesting protein sources for recovery from the workout and nitrogen balance maintenance before the next meal.
3. Between meals: You should take protein supplement snacks and meals from slow-digesting proteins that will ensure a stable positive nitrogen balance.
4. At night: The intake of a protein supplement that is slow-digesting keeps your nitrogen balance at its maximum while sleeping.
During gym training, you should ensure you take the right amounts of proteins — and other mineral and vitamin supplements, as well — to generate enough creatine, which helps in adding muscle mass and strength. Additionally, protein supplements contain nitric oxide and beta alanine as pre-workout supplements, waxy maize as an intra-workout supplement, and multivitamin supplements that supply minerals and vitamins to the body.