Protein powders are widely used for many reasons, but a lot of people still have many misconceptions about it. Many people believe that drinking protein powders will make you bulky, or that it will give you muscles. Okay, it does give you muscles — but not in the way you think.
When you weight train, you break muscle fibers. When these are repaired with the right elements, they rebuild even stronger than before, which creates muscle hypertrophy ( aka "gains"). Protein shakes help you replenish and repair the muscle fibers you have broken, and as a result, you build muscle.
There are many types of protein powders, but whey is among the most popular ones. I, however, have switched to plant based protein powders, because whey (dairy) powders were making me bloat.
Here are some of the proven benefits of protein powder:
- It's the most convenient and readily available source of protein.
- It's lighter on the stomach before and after workouts.
- It helps you obtain necessary dietary protein with minimal added carbs and fat.
- It's easier to metabolize than solid plant or animal protein.
- It enhances recovery when consumed after training.
- It replenishes glycogen levels.
- It prevents catabolism of the muscles.
- It provides essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that the body needs but does not produce to build, repair, and Mantain muscle mass.
When should you drink a shake? Try one after training, or even as a snack.
Remember to rely on mostly whole foods to get all your macro and micronutrients. The shakes will help, but they shouldn't substitute full meals.