Protein nutrients are dietary supplements intended for athletes, especially those practising power sports. They are used to enrich their diet with protein, which is the basic building block of muscle mass. Protein nutrients have been recognised as effective by a team of experts from the Sports Medicine Centre and the Medical Commission of the Polish Olympic Committee.
How do protein supplements work?
As mentioned above, protein is the basic building block of muscle mass, responsible for muscle growth, muscle development, and also strength and endurance. In general, in supplying protein to your diet its richest sources are, among others, meat, eggs, milk and its products, as well as legumes. However, the need for protein is much higher for people practising sports than for others. According to some calculations, the minimum daily protein dose for fitness athletes is 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. It is not always possible to consume enough of it in your diet, so in such cases the including of supplementation is advisable. Protein supplements are characterised by high biological value, and are easily absorbed by the body.
Forms of protein supplements
The three basic forms of protein supplements are
- whey-protein concentrate (WPC) - contains up to 80% protein, is characterised by low content of lactose, cholesterol and fat, and is a very-valuable source of growth factors and cysteine, which is an amino acid essential for the development of muscle tissue, and is also recommended as a supplement to all who work out
- whey-protein isolate (WPI) - contains up to 90% protein, and no lactose, cholesterol or fat, and recommended as a supplement to support muscle mass increase and post-workout regeneration
- whey-protein hydrolysate (WPH) – is the most-advanced protein product, with the highest protein content, dissolves very well, so it quickly affects the growth of muscle tissue, and does not cause problems in the digestive system.
The ingredients of protein supplements
As far as the composition of protein supplements is concerned, various substances can be found in them. These include
- micellar casein natural-protein fraction - obtained from milk by means of the ultrafiltration process, supports the functioning of the digestive and immune systems, ensures the constant release of amino acids into the blood, and can be used as a meal substitute
- calcium caseinate - also derived from milk, obtained through the chemical-treatment process, is characterised by low lactose and fat content, and is associated with calcium and sodium
- egg albumin (EA) - obtained from hen-egg white, with a very-wide application, and is characterised by excellent solubility in water
- soybean protein (SP) - obtained from soya beans, has very-high nutritional values, is a rich source of fibre, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc and B-group vitamins, and lowers cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides
- organic rice protein (ORP) - obtained from rice grains and recommended mainly for people with intolerance to glucose and gluten because it is free of these substances (unfortunately it is not a complete protein)
- organic hemp protein - obtained from hemp seeds in the grinding process, a rich source of amino acids, vitamins, fibre, fatty acids and albumin, recommended for people looking for replacements for animal proteins (e.g. vegetarians)
- beef protein (BP) - obtained from beef meat, is an excellent source of iron, B-group vitamins and creatine, but at the same time containing large amounts of cholesterol and fats.
How do you use protein supplements?
The recommended methods of using protein supplements can be found on the packaging of individual products. In general, however, protein supplements should be used in three situations.
- Immediately after training the proteins contained in the supplements will accelerate muscle regeneration (after training there is sometimes no possibility to eat a high-protein meal, so you can then drink whey isolate).
- Immediately before bedtime they will stimulate muscle regeneration during night rest (here, the supplements rich in slowly-absorbed protein will be the most suitable: caseins, casein-albumin- and whey-concentrate mixtures).
- In a situation when it is not possible to eat an appropriate amount of protein in a specific meal.
What else should you pay attention to?
When choosing a specific protein supplement, it is necessary to pay particular attention to the protein content. which should be at least 85%. It is also worth checking the manufacturer of a given supplement and selecting only proven and well-known brands which pay great attention to the quality of their products, and apply for certificates from recognised institutions, etc. Only then will you be sure that the supplement composition is actually what the manufacturer states on the packaging.