Fun and Fitness: The protein problem: What to buy?

We seem to be hearing a lot of questions regarding protein as of late. Should I take protein shakes? Will they help me build muscle? Are there side effects? Which one is good? Where should I buy it? Is isolate protein better than regular whey protein? These are typical questions that will be asked around the fitness industry until the end of time. That is because protein is one of the macronutrients we need on a daily basis. Needless to say, protein supplementation has been around for a very long time and it is here to stay.

I honestly believe protein supplementation can be a little confusing to the “average Joe” for one simple reason: people often love to overcomplicate things. Like many things, the answer is pretty much summed up in the phrase itself. Supplementation in the dietary sense is exactly that: you are “adding” something to your diet in order to complete it. Maybe you don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, so you supplement with a multivitamin to ensure you get your vitamins and minerals. Vegetarians often take iron supplements because they don't get enough iron due to the lack of meat consumption. Protein supplementation isn't any different.

That being said, there are pretty much two camps of people. The first camp includes those who use protein powders to make sure they get enough protein on a daily basis. The second camp includes those who use protein powders as an alternative to a typical food protein source. Most of us are a combination of the two. Now that we have that straightened out, we can move on to answering some other frequently asked questions. However, let's not overcomplicate things. Let's keep it simple!

Should I take protein shakes?
Nobody can truly answer this question other than yourself. Maybe you get enough protein from your meals and you're easily meeting your daily requirements. Maybe you are an athlete or a weight lifter who needs more protein and powders offer a convenient way of meeting that demand. Most people don't have multiple chicken breasts and steak meals waiting for them in their back pockets, and so protein shakes are a way to ensure they get this macronutrient on a consistent basis.

Will it help me build muscle?
Ask yourself, does protein build muscle? If you answered yes, then you are correct. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and we get these through dietary protein. Meats and alternatives and, yes, protein shakes have the much needed amino acids you are looking for.

Which one is good and are there side effects?
A good way of looking at it would be to consider which one is good for you and doesn't have any side effects. Protein powders have been around for a long time now and they may pose some gastrointestinal or lactose issues for some individuals. These issues are usually minor and, for the most part, the lactose has been refined and filtered to a point that it isn't a concern. Too much protein can make one gassy, which is never fun. These are issues that are easily fixed by regulating your intake and finding the right brand.

Where should I buy it?
Anywhere you can get it! Spartan Nutrition downtown on Richmond Street offers quality product and expert advice from Aaron Brady, who has been looking after Fanshawe's students for over a decade now. If you know what you want, online shopping sites such as offer great rates and fast shipping.

Isolate whey protein or regular whey protein?
This is a never-ending debate. Basically, isolate whey protein is further processed and the result is a more pure protein. The downside is that it comes with a higher price tag. There are other benefits to isolate protein powders, however research has shown that some of these may be negligible and not worth the extra money. Isolates may be a great alternative for severely lactose intolerant individuals due to the extensive refining process.

Okay, thanks, but where do you sit on the whole idea of protein supplementations?
This is often the last question I get asked. My two deciding factors when buying a protein powder, in order of importance, are taste and price. I don't typically have any stomach issues, and if I ever do, I'll simply move on to a brand that doesn't cause problems. I don't get caught up in all the isolate/regular hoopla myself. Until isolate prices become similar to regular whey proteins, I'll continue getting my amino acids from the cheaper source. But hey! Different strokes for different folks. I hope this helps you decide which protein is best for you.