Protein powders have become a widely accepted “necessary” supplement for dedicated athletes, weightlifters, runners, or anyone who leads an active life, due to their ability to add convenient and accessible nutrition to people’s increasingly busy and hectic lives.
But how necessary is protein powder? Could you get enough protein through the food you eat without relying on supplements?
In this article, we’re going to look at how your body utilizes protein post-workout, how specific proteins have different effects, and how much protein you really need.
Why Protein Matters
Every cell in your body relies on protein in one way or another, which makes it a critical component for healthy body function. It’s one of the three macronutrients (along with carbohydrates and fats): essential nutrients that you simply cannot live without or would have an extremely difficult time attempting to do so. Protein is used to repair damaged tissue, produce hormones, manufacture enzymes, maintain organ function, and so much more.
Protein is particularly important because it’s a primary nutrient used to produce ATP, a source of energy utilized by your muscles. In essence, the more protein your body absorbs (via your diet), the more energy is “banked”  in your muscle fibers.
The combination of weight lifting and protein consumption triggers “muscle protein synthesis,” encouraging tissue growth to repair the fibers broken down during your workout. Therefore, getting enough protein immediately after intense muscle-building exercise is crucial for increasing muscular growth, if you are looking to maximize your recovery and growth parameters. However, you would still receive benefits from protein consumption up to hours after you have finished your workout.
The Best Protein Sources for Muscle-Building
For your body to produce ATP, form new muscle fibers, and repair existing broken down muscle, it needs essential amino acids, which include:
Foods containing all essential amino acids are called “complete proteins” because they are required to become truly calorically bioavailable for use by your body. The best protein-rich foods include:
- Chicken breast (31g of protein in 100g serving)
- Turkey (29g of protein in 100g serving)
- Eggs (13g of protein in 100g serving)
- Salmon (20g of protein in 100g serving)
- Tuna (28g of protein in 100g serving)
- Beef (26g of protein in 100g serving)
- Pork (27g of protein in 100g serving)
- Shrimp (24g of protein in 100g serving)
Other excellent complete protein sources include dairy products, shellfish, and quinoa. Incomplete proteins that can be paired to provide all the essential amino acids include barley, brown rice, legumes, nuts, seeds, corn, and millet. You can form complete protein sources by combining two or more incomplete sources of protein. For example, pea and rice together form a structurally complete protein.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The average person needs roughly 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass throughout the day. Athletes and those who exercise regularly require a bit more, about 1.2 g/kg of lean body mass. For muscle-building, it’s recommended to eat upwards of 1.4 g/kg of lean body mass.
All experts agree that eating protein immediately following your workout increases muscle protein synthesis, facilitating repairs and restoring depleted energy. There is a 90 to a 120-minute window when your body is at peak production, and that’s when you want to eat enough protein to fuel the repairs and muscle-building process.
To get enough essential amino acids to build muscle, you can eat a serving of pork, beef, fish, chicken, turkey, or shrimp right after your workout. You can get along just fine without protein powder and still see real strength gains and muscle-building results by eating these protein-rich foods, although it may not always be accessible or feasible for people. Additionally, not everyone is eager to wolf down a skewer of shrimp immediately after exercise, and that is where a great-tasting protein supplement can come in.
The Benefits of Protein Powder
Before we get into the more profound explanation of why protein powder is good for you, here are the primary benefits provided by protein powder:
- Stay fuller for longer; satiate your appetite
- Eat smaller, controlled portion sizes
- Reduce blood pressure, and cholesterol
- Reduce body weight and fat mass; combat obesity
- Accelerate post-exercise recovery
- A concentrated dose of easily digested protein
STEEL Supplements is a supplement company that formulates protein powders using only the highest-quality ingredients, tested for purity and accuracy, and backed by scientific research. They specialize in protein powders that provide the benefits above.
The Argument for Why You NEED Protein Powder
As we discussed above, you can get a lot of protein from protein-rich foods. You see, some nutrients (like carbohydrates) digest quickly, while others (such as fat) take longer. Your body will immediately process the carbs, then move on to the proteins and fats. High amounts of fat in your protein can slow down the digestion process just enough that you only get some or most of the amino acids in the food during that 90 to 120-minute window following your workout. This means your muscles may not be “filled up,” so your results are fractionally less than they could be.
That’s where protein supplements have a slight edge, being highly efficient and nutrient-specific formulations solely focused on protein replenishment.
Whey protein, in particular, is a fast-acting protein that maximizes amino acid uptake, delivering a rapid infusion of energy to quickly fill your muscles while they’re in the muscle-building window. With all that energy banked, your muscles will have everything they need to make repairs, build new fibers, and expand their energy storage capacity—all of which translates into better strength gains and muscle growth.
Suppose you are an athlete or active person looking to capitalize on your efforts to train hard. In that case, protein powder provides you with a convenient, highly effective form of protein that will deliver better immediate post-workout results than alternative protein sources. So it’s definitely worth considering adding a protein supplement to your diet for that reason alone!
If you’re looking for a top-quality protein powder, STEEL Supplements’ Whey Pro is exactly what you need. It’s made using fast-acting, easily bioavailable whey protein that will maximize post-workout recovery and amino acid uptake, and it’s pure protein free of gluten, fillers, impurities, or unnecessary ingredients. Not only does it deliver 20 grams of protein per scoop, but it provides digestive enzymes to diminish gastrointestinal stress. With just one serving of Whey Pro, you can provide your body with the protein required to replenish depleted energy and repair your tired muscles.