IS YOUR PROTEIN AN INVESTMENT OR A RIP-OFF?

IS YOUR PROTEIN AN INVESTMENT OR A RIP-OFF?

Do you just pick up the first protein you see on the shelf without analysing its nutritional value? Are your supplement choices based on tall advertising claims, unaware of the true compositional facts? Does your mirror disappoint you by not showing any rewards of your supplementation investment?

If your answer to any of the above questions is yes, it’s time for a reality check!

Remember: Your selection of an effective protein supplement can make or break your fitness program!

Arm yourself with the know-how to make an intelligent choice.

WHICH SUPPLEMENT DO YOU REALLY NEED?

Choice of an effective supplement begins with understanding your own requirement based on your fitness goal and the limitations of your lifestyle.

FIVE simple questions will give you your answer:

1. Can you eat high-quality protein such as egg whites, chicken, fish or skimmed paneer daily with all your meals?

If your answer is No, you need a WHEY protein.

You can take it pre-workout in skim milk and post-workout in water, along with carbohydrates. Any meal lacking in protein can be completed by adding a whey protein shake.

For example, if you are able to have egg whites in breakfast and any one of skimmed paneer, chicken or fish in dinner, your whey intake will be required in lunch, pre-workout and post-workout meals.

2. Can you eat 5-6 meals daily of good wholesome carbohydrates?

If No, then you need a WEIGHT GAINER or a MEAL REPLACEMENT.

If you can’t eat good quality carbohydrates such as whole cereals, fibrous fruits and vegetables (as per your requirement) every 3-4 hours, you need a supplement supplying the specific protein-carbohydrate combination as per your fitness goal and body type.

For example, if your goal is muscle gain, a Weight Gainer is the ideal choice to supply both protein and carbohydrates in-between meals as a mid-morning, evening or a bedtime snack. It would also be a good fuel source for your pre- and post-workout meals. If your goal is fat loss, then instead of a Weight Gainer, a Meal Replacement is your snack-time supplement.

3. Do you have a limited supplement budget?

If Yes, then choose only one supplement – either a WHEY or a WEIGHT GAINER. But remember, choosing only one supplement may cost less – but it comes with a price!

A Whey protein is an economical option for muscle gain, but only if you can spend the time to eat 5-6 good-sized meals a day full of whole cereals such as oats, chapatti or brown rice.

If you can’t eat 5-6 times a day, buy only a Weight gainer. But then you must take egg whites with your breakfast and skimmed paneer, chicken or fish with lunch and dinner; and take ½ serving of the weight gainer (as per your requirement) 2-3 times daily in-between meals, pre- and post-workout.

Ideal choice?

Invest in both: a Whey and a Weight Gainer and divide your protein intake between the two! You’re not spending double, just being doubly sure that come rain or shine, your protein intake is guaranteed!

The Weight gainer is your mainstay to supply your protein-carb every 3-4 hours and Whey, as a back-up, to add to any meal lacking protein!

4. Are you weight-training regularly at a high intensity?

If Yes, then add a Creatine and/or Amino acids such as Glutamine and BCAA (branched-chain amino acids).

Boosting power and recovery with creatine, anti-catabolic amino acids and creatine-amino acid combos will further accelerate results from your protein supplements.

5. Do you have any current or past health problems?

Only if your answer is No (after a complete medical check-up), add Creatine, Creatine-amino acid combos or Fat burners.

But not until your nutritionist gives you the green signal! Advanced supplementation will only work if the foundation of your diet, water intake and protein supplements is strong.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WHEY?

Analyzing your whey protein is a pre-requisite to any supplementation program. Whey protein is usually the first encounter with supplements for most users. Selecting the best-quality Whey is therefore crucial for initiation into an effective supplementation program.

Veteran supplement users also depend on the highly bioavailable whey protein to trip the switch from exercise-induced muscle catabolism to accelerated post-workout recovery.

Next time you pick up your whey, follow this checklist:

1. Check the Ingredient list whether it’s a Pure Whey

Buy a Whey rather than a Protein blend. All pure proteins are not pure whey. Protein blends supply a mixture of protein sources such as whey, casein, egg white and soya.
A protein blend cannot be taken post-workout and its use is only limited to pre-workout and other meals. Always choose a pure whey for its best amino acid profile and super-fast digestibility. Nothing beats a pure whey post-workout! It is also adaptable: for pre-workout and other meals, its absorption can be slowed down by mixing with a glass of skim milk.

2. Look for a Whey Protein Isolate

Check the ‘ingredient’ list whether the product is a pure ‘Whey Isolate’ or a ‘Regular Whey’, i.e. a mix of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. A pure Whey Isolate is preferred as it is a highly purified form of whey that is lactose-free, highest in protein percentage and extremely light on the digestive system.
For marketing purposes, few brands of Regular Whey highlight the product as ‘whey protein isolates’ when actually it is a mix of whey concentrate and whey isolate. Don’t choose a product by merely reading the front advertising panel of the label! Always verify with the ingredient list.

3. Calculate the Protein%

The primary purpose of a good protein supplement is to supply a high protein percentage.
This is calculated simply as: Protein % = Protein (gm) per serving x 100

Serving size (gm)

Regular Whey proteins generally supply 75-80% protein, while pure Whey Isolates go upto 85-90% protein.

For example, out of the top international brands currently available in India, Ultimate Nutrition’s ISOSENSATION93 wins the rank of the highest protein percentage in its class. A super-light pure whey isolate supplying as high as 93% protein!

4. Check if the Purification method is filtration

Cross-flow microfiltration is the purification method of choice for a high-quality whey isolate as it preserves all the whey sub-fractions and its superior amino acid profile.

5. Look for Add-ons

Be demanding as a consumer! Why be satisfied merely with a high protein percentage? Check the ‘Ingredient’ list for special add-ons!
These could include amino acids such as glutamine and BCAA (branched-chain amino acids) for muscle recovery, colostrums as added growth factors, insulin optimizers for better uptake of protein, and digestive enzymes.

6. Check the cost factor

After the pure whey has passed all the above criteria, calculate its cost per pound (lbs) or per gram of protein.
For example, for a Whey Isolate containing 90% protein:

a) 5lbs jar contains 90% x 5lbs = 4.5lbs protein (or 2.05 kg of protein)

b) Rate per lbs of protein = Cost of 5lbs jar / 4.5lbs protein (or 2.05 kg of protein)

A good quality brand of whey isolate such as Isosensation93 may actually turn out to be costing slightly more per gram of protein than a regular whey! Not a high cost for the easy ride!

SELECTING THE BEST GAINER FOR YOU

Selecting a Gainer needs an even deeper analysis than a Whey! You’re scrutinising not just the protein, but also the carbohydrates!

Never pick a weight gainer simply because it ‘sells’ more or because your friend is seeing results. All weight gainers are not the same. What is best for your friend may not be best for you!
Remember: Your choice of a Gainer seals your final fate: Muscle gain or Fat gain?
Before you order a Gainer, better do your home-work first:

1. Select the type of Gainer to suit your Body type and Fitness goal

If your goal is muscle gain, a Lean Muscle Gainer is the perfect choice for you!
A lean muscle gainer supplies better quality protein and carbohydrates ensuring muscle gain with minimal fat gain.
If you are a thin and skinny ectomorph, a High-Carb Weight gainer gives a good start.
In the first phase of your weight gain program, it will help you gain weight faster but with a risk of fat gain, depending on the calories in the rest of the diet. It is advisable to then switch to a lean muscle gainer to ensure quality muscle gain rather than fat gain.

2. Verify if the Protein-Carb ratio is ideal

In a lean muscle gainer, look for a 1:1½ protein-carb ratio, i.e. about 55-65gm of protein with 80-90gm of carbohydrates per serving.
This ensures a higher proportion of protein along with good-quality complex carbohydrates per serving.
In a high-carb weight gainer, the ideal protein-carb ratio is 1:3, i.e. 55-65gm of protein with 150-160gm of carbohydrates per serving.
A higher protein-carb ratio such as 1:4 or 1:5 increases the possibility of fat gain, rather than muscle gain and also reduces the proportion of protein, depending on the quantity of powder taken at a time. Only extreme ectomorphs with very poor diets may burn off the high calories of a 1:4 or 1:5 weight gainer.

3. Look for a blend of Proteins

A blend of whey and casein proteins is preferred as the fast-absorbed whey and slow-releasing casein ensure a timed-release continuous supply of amino acids from one meal to the next.

4. Look for special Add-ons

Special add-ons are the USP of an advanced lean muscle gainer! These include creatine, amino acids like glutamine, BCAA and arginine, and good quality fats such as omega-3 fats and MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) to support muscle growth, improved power and recovery.
Always check the quantity in which each is present. Higher quantities of add-ons are expected to translate into better results, while smaller quantities may serve only for marketing purposes.

5. Analyze the Costing vs. your Budget

Comparing the costing of a weight gainer is most misunderstood and has led many-a-consumer to make wrong choices. Make sure your analysis is on the right track:
a) Check the number of servings per pack.
That equals the number of days the pack will last if you consume one serving per day. Check whether the big-sized weight gainer pack e.g. a 10lbs or a 12lbs is a 15-day supply or a 1-month supply.
b) Compare the cost per serving NOT the total cost per pack.
Cost per serving = Total cost of the pack / Number of servings

You may be surprised that an advanced lean muscle gainer such as Ultimate Nutrition’s ISOMASS XTREME GAINER with high-quality protein and carbohydrates packed with massive add-ons can actually turn out to be cheaper (per serving) than other high-carb weight gainers!

Finally, select the product with highest quality yet easy on the pocket!

Remember, fitness and protein are bonded for life!

So make a choice that will keep your body healthy and your budget happy!

Printed in Mens Health, India (July 09 issue)

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