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The Beginner's Guide to Protein Powder: Do You Need it? What's Best? How & When to Use it

the-beginners-guide-to-protein-powder-do-you-need-it-whats-best-how--when-to-use-it

Protein is one of the three macro-nutrients we need every day to build muscle, lose fat and stay healthy. It’s found in things like meat, fish, tofu and pulses, it's also one many people struggle to get enough of.

Protein powders and shakes are an easy and convenient way of making sure you're getting enough of it in your diet, but they’re not needed if you can get enough protein through your regular diet. They’re a helpful extra boost for when you struggling to hit your protein goal.

If never bought protein powder before, it can be a bit of a minefield.

So in this ultimate guide, we're going to cover;

  1. How much protein do you need every day?
  1. Do you need to add protein powder to your diet?
  1. Different types of protein powder
  1. Choosing the best type of protein powder for you
  1. How to use protein powder to make tasty drinks, smoothies and meals
  1. When to take protein powder for best results

 

How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?

The British Nutrition Foundation recommend 0.6g per KILOGRAM of bodyweight. This would mean that if you weigh 150lb, you only need 41g of protein a day. 

In our opinion, this is nowhere near enough to maintain muscle mass and growth, especially if you're active.

At Team RH, we've gathered data from the tens of thousands of members who have lost fat and built muscle. Using that data, we recommend you consume 1g of protein per POUND of body lean body mass (that’s your muscle mass, not including fat).

When you sign up to the Team RH life plan we calculate exactly how much protein you’ll need based on your height, weight and activity level. You can log in every day to see how close you are to hitting your goal based on the food you consume.

Building Muscle vs. Losing Fat

It doesn't matter whether you're trying to build more muscle or trying to lose fat. You need the right amount of protein in your diet.

Eat enough protein while:

  • Strength training in a caloric deficit - and you'll lose fat while maintaining or building muscle AND losing fat at the same time.
  • Building muscle in a caloric surplus/maintenance - you'll build muscle mass with minimal if any fat gain. 

 

Do You Need Protein Powder in Your Diet?

No, you don't! Don’t let those shady shake companies try and tell you otherwise. We sell protein powder but only for those who struggle to hit their daily protein goals – if you can hit your protein through your normal diet then do that!

Great sources of protein include:

That said, there are plenty of times when protein powder is useful;

  1. You struggle to hit your protein goal with real food – If you don’t eat a lot of meat or don’t get much protein through a regular diet, a protein shake could help you hit your goal.
  1. You're reverse-dieting or bulking – Protein is essential for building muscle, so you may need help to get extra protein into your diet.
  1. You want to lose weight – you actually burn more calories when digesting protein than other macronutrients (we could write a whole other blog on this, but trust us for now), plus it keeps you fuller for longer.

In any case, you should only use protein powder to supplement your daily intake. It shouldn't be your main source.

How Much Should You Take?

The serving suggestion on most protein powders is 30g.

Research suggests this is the ideal amount to repair the damage done to muscle tissue during exercise.

In reality, how much you take depends on;

  • How much protein you need - if you only need 15g to hit your goal, only use enough powder to get 15g of protein.
  • How you're using it - if you're using it as part of a recipe, use the required amount.
  • When you're taking it - if you're taking it after a workout to aid recovery, use the amount stated on the pack, usually 30g.

 

Are There Different Types of Protein Powder?

When it comes to shopping for protein powder, you'll come across a few types.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the most popular type of protein powder there is. That's because it's the cheapest and most readily available.

Whey is a by-product of cheese making. It's a liquid leftover from milk that has been curdled and strained. It contains all the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) which are essential for repairing muscle damage caused by exercise and is more easily absorbed into the body than other types.

Casein Protein

Casein is the main type of protein found in dairy products and makes up 80% of the protein found in cow’s milk. It contains the same amino acids as whey protein but takes a bit longer to absorb. 

Because of this, some people take casein protein before bed. The theory is it'll help muscle recovery ad growth during sleep. That said, some studies show this isn't the case.

Egg Protein

Made by separating egg whites from the yolk and dehydrating them.

Egg protein is a complete source. It contains essential amino acids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is a good option for vegetarians. Soy protein is one of the few plant-based products which contain the essential amino acids you need for muscle growth and repair.

It’s one of the cheaper options too, although soy is often genetically modified to boost crop yields and as a result, it can cause an increase in oestrogen levels which can cause an increase in fat storage.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is slow-releasing, which makes it a good plant-based alternative to casein.

It's not a complete source though so you'll need protein from other sources, and some people don’t like the taste so you might want to add something to it to improve the flavour.

Hemp Protein

Made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, hemp protein is high in fibre and essential fatty acids.

The psychoactive compound (THC) found in cannabis isn't there, so it’s safe to consume without feeling any ‘high’.

That said, hemp protein is low in leucine which is one of the most important amino acids for muscle growth.

 

Choosing The Best Protein Powder For You

It doesn't matter which type of protein powder you choose, here are a few tips when choosing the right one for you;

  • Choose a product with a high protein content - whey protein typically has the highest and a good one will have 80%+protein. Egg, soy, pea and hemp proteins have lower protein contents than whey and casein due to them being plant-based, although they are still good sources of protein.
  • Choose a flavour you like - you can buy protein powder in all kinds of flavours. Chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, etc. We make our protein SUPER tasty so you don’t have to add anything to it to make it drinkable. This means that it’s higher in calories but you actually want to drink it and you don’t have to add calories to it with peanut butter or chocolate to make it taste good.

Because whey protein is cheaper, readily available and quickly absorbed into the body, it's our preferred type.

Our Protein

After thousands of requests from our members, we decided to release our own range of whey protein powders. It took almost 2 years of trying to get it absolutely perfect, but now we’ve got something that people rave about. It still packs a powerful protein-punch too, with 80g of protein per 100g and only 125 calories per 30g scoop. There are a few more calories than other protein powders to make it taste lush on it’s own so you don’t have to add a load of calories in stuff to make it taste better.

It comes in 4 flavours.

  1. Chocolate
  1. Vanilla
  1. Strawberry
  1. Banana

 The best part?

It tastes fkn AMAZING! 

We call it 'Just Fkn Protein', because, well, that's what it is. 

 

How to Use Protein Powder to Make Tasty Drinks, Smoothies and Meals

It doesn't matter what your fitness goals are. Whether you're trying to lose weight or build muscle, you can use protein powder in a variety of ways.

You can use it to make drinks, smoothies or meals. 

Shakes and Smoothies

The first thing we recommend you do with a new protein powder is to mix it with water and see how it tastes.

Some taste epic in water, some tastes like sh*t, so, save yourself the time and money and buy ours!

Mixing it with water means you increase your protein intake while keeping your calorie intake as low as possible.

Perfect if you're trying to lose fat.

If you're bulking or you want to switch things up, you can add all sorts to it including;

  • Different liquids - milk, almond milk, orange or pineapple juice. All make a difference.
  • Fruit - bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries. Frozen berries are epic!
  • Veggies - kale, spinach, avocados etc. Especially good if you're not a 'veggie' person as they don't really taste of anything.
  • Other ingredients - like peanut butter, oats all add calories. Useful for when you're bulking and can't face a large meal.

The sky's the limit when you're making protein smoothies and drinks.

Chuck in whatever you want and see how it tastes. That said, calories can add up fast so make sure you track them!

Tasty Meals, Snacks & Treats

You can also add protein powder into your cooking to make nutritious meals and treats. Including;

  • Protein pancakes
  • Protein chocolate brownies
  • Protein ice creams
  • Peanut butter protein balls
  • Overnight oats

 

When to Take Protein Powder For Best Results

Many protein powder suppliers tell us to:

  • Slam a whey (or plant-based equivalent) protein shake straight after a workout
  • Drink a casein (or plant-based equivalent) or smoothie before bed

 to get the most benefit.

They also say we need to consume protein every few hours for maximum protein synthesis.

However, the results from this study state; 

" With respect to hypertrophy, total protein intake was the strongest predictor of ES magnitude. These results refute the commonly held belief that the timing of protein intake in and around a training session is critical to muscular adaptations and indicate that consuming adequate protein in combination with resistance exercise is the key factor for maximizing muscle protein accretion.” 

 In plain English: how much protein you consume in a day is more important than when you consume it.

If you can't neck a protein shake right after a workout, or you don't want to have to chug one before you go to bed, don’t worry.

Just focus on hitting your goal amount throughout the day.

 

To Recap

If you're able to get the protein you need from real food, you DO NOT need protein power.

It does come in handy and makes hitting your daily goal that bit easier, but it’s not a necessity.

There are several different types of protein powder, including plant-based versions. We prefer whey protein because;

  1. It's the cheapest
  1. Most readily available
  1. Has a high percentage of protein compared to other types
  1. Is quickly absorbed by the body

You can use protein powder to make epic drinks and tasty meals and treats.

The amount of protein you consume is more important than when you consume it.

Shameless plug: If you fancy a protein powder that tastes epic and has a full amino profile then you can get ours here.