Should I take protein supplements?
Protein is definitely a new buzz word in the fitness industry and many 4321 members ask if they should be adding protein bars or shakes to their diet. As you may expect there is no clear answer to this question, but there are some good guidelines to follow when deciding whether or not to use protein supplements.
I would say that if you are just starting your health, weight loss or fitness journey definitely introduce more protein to your diet, but do it with food and not supplements. Adding protein to your meals will help you build a more healthy, balanced diet and this should be everyone’s top priority when starting a new regime. Always start with the fundamentals, get them right and then build from there. So, once you have an adequate amount of protein in your main meals then you can start to think about supplements and if you need them.
Men and women normally require extra protein for a few specific reasons. The first being because they are specifically trying to bulk up and therefore their need for protein is well above average. It is still possible to get this amount of protein from food sources, but the portions may need to be so large that getting that protein in supplement form is just far more convenient. There is also an issue of timing. So if, for example, you train in the morning and then want to head straight to work, you might not have time to make an adequate protein packed breakfast to help repair and rebuild your muscles at the ideal time. In this instance a protein bar or shake is perfect to keep in your gym bag and consume on the way to work. Finally, if you are vegan or vegetarian, you can get protein from beans and pulses, but as they are generally not as protein dense as meat sources, you may not be getting enough to support your training if you are lifting weights regularly. Again, in this instance a protein supplement is an ideal option and there will be plenty on the market that support your dietary requirements.
Therefore, protein supplements are more often convenient rather than essential. This leads me on to the issue of having protein bars as a healthy snack. Protein bars can be a healthy snack, but there are some issues that you need to be aware of when making your choice as some protein bars and shakes can be packed full of sugar. Traditionally, protein supplements were designed for professional athletes and bodybuilders who would use them post workout to boost their protein intake as quickly and efficiently as possible and also use them to replace sugars that had been depleted during their workout. When you train as much as these athletes, this energy needs to be replaced as efficiently as possible to help them maximise their sessions. Most gym goers do not have the same requirements as they are not training as hard or for as long as professionals. Therefore, it is important to read the ingredients of any protein supplement that you buy to make sure that they are high in protein, but low in sugar. There are plenty of different protein options on offer so you will find one that fits your needs. If you are aware of the ingredients and stick to a protein bar that is low in sugar then having one as a snack and not specifically for supplementation is fine. Just do not kid yourself on that these new protein packed Mars bars or Snickers are healthy!
If you are ever unsure about your protein requirements be sure to speak to a professional but ideally not one that is on commission to sell you supplements.
The 4321 Method®