A lot of our clients at Raw Fitness ask about supplements. More specifically I hear questions like, “Which supplements should I be taking?”, “Which brands are the best?”, and “Will they help me lose weight or build muscle?” Well the good news is in this 3-part blog I want to help answer some of those confusing questions!
As fitness professionals, we are constantly researching quality sources of information in order to get our clients the best results we possibly can, and I have put together a list of the supplements we recommend for anyone who desires a high functioning, fat burning, “mega” metabolism that will help them in all phases of their fitness goals. Whether you are seeking to lose weight, maintain weight, or build lean muscle mass, these supplements will help get you on the fast track to optimum health and fitness! In this first blog I am going to specifically discuss one of the “big guns” of the supplement artillery: PROTEIN.
These days you see protein dietary supplements everywhere from the gas station to the super market and it can leave you with a lot of questions as to what protein sources, in what amounts, in what forms, and how much, if any, you need to be taking. The first thing you should know is that protein supplements, whether in powder, liquid, or in a pre-made bar forms, should not be your only source of protein consumption. Unless you are a vegan, chances are you get a majority of your protein from whole food sources like fish, poultry, eggs, milk, soy, and so on. However, many of us work for a living, and have a plate full of priorities so making sure that between work, the gym, our families, and a social life that we are getting good sources of protein to keep the body fueled can be difficult at times. A quick bag of protein powder, a pre-made shake, or a protein bar is easy to throw in your gym bag and simple to take on the go when you are traveling. A protein supplement is a vital weapon to have when fighting stubborn fat and a slow metabolism. Protein supplements are also great “in between” meals you can have throughout the day at the office, rather than heading for the sugar and fat laden snack machine conveniently located five feet down the hall from your desk.
As a female in the fitness industry, I can tell you I hear from a lot of my clients, especially other females, that they are fearful of taking protein supplements because they don’t want to gain weight, or “bulk up.” Let me clear up some misconceptions about protein. There are many more benefits to good, clean protein sources than just muscle growth enhancement. Although muscle protein synthesis does occur when we consume protein, it does NOT automatically equate to the biceps of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It takes hours of dedication in the gym, heavy weight training, and usually going well above recommended servings of protein supplements (and 9 times out of 10 steroids) to get to that level, so ladies fear not!
There are many reasons protein is beneficial to both men and women! When we eat protein, we naturally experience satiety and feel fuller quicker. In this way, protein consumption helps manage our weight and body composition. Protein also increases thermic effects within the body, which is just a fancy way of saying our metabolisms must work almost double time, in relation to the digestion of fats or carbohydrates, to break down protein. This naturally speeds our metabolism and aids in fat burning when dieting, and keeps us from adding too much fat to the body when we are muscle building. Another benefit of protein is increased glucagon. Glucagon is important because it helps aid in mobilizing fat stores in adipose tissue(body fat), as well as decreases the amount and activities of specific enzymes that work to make and store fat in adipose tissue as well as liver cells. Again, just another credit protein’s fat burning ability! A few other noteworthy benefits of protein are effective support of exercise recovery, a boosted immune system, and a reduction in cardiovascular risks. Studies show that a diet with a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio promotes lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, produces lower levels of triglyceride concentrations, and can actually increase your HLD (good) cholesterol levels!
Protein can come from a wide range of sources anywhere from whey to artichoke protein. Each protein source has its strength and weakness and there really is no black or white answer for which one is going to meet your individual needs. There are many different splits along the protein path, so I just want to highlight some caution signs to pay attention to. Whey proteins derived from milk tend to be the most prevalent sources of protein around. They tend to be the most affordable and come in a variety of flavors that often taste pretty good. If you have no allergy to whey and aren’t a vegan, this protein can be a great choice to begin with! However, whey proteins have been shown to be a little more taxing on the kidneys and usually the cheaper forms of this protein source are laden with artificial sweeteners, and other chemical fillers that you might not want to add to your diet. At Raw Fitness, we lean more towards plant-based proteins. You will find that a good quality plant based protein, like the Sun Warrior protein blends we sell, not only tastes great, but are also safer to consume. While they are a little more expensive than your generic protein, they payoff is much greater. Sun Warrior proteins are an amazing protein supplement because they are raw- meaning they have active enzymes in them that make them easier to digest and absorb! In addition to being raw, they are gluten/wheat free, soy free, dairy free, and non-GMO. Studies show that Sun Warrior protein blends actually increase the body’s ability to absorb other vital trace vitamins and minerals you are consuming in your every day diet!
If you still feel like picking out a protein supplement is like finding that proverbial needle in a haystack, fear not my fitness friends…. You just need to remember a few key things! You do need protein, whether you are losing weight, maintaining what you have, or muscle building. Protein supplements come in many varieties, so find one that meets you individual dietary needs. A protein supplement should be easy to digest, taste good, and have a high absorption percentage. Pay attention to your labels and be on the lookout for unnecessary artificial sweeteners and chemical fillers. In general, men need no more than 0.75-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight and women need no more than 0.60-0.80 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Try to get the majority of protein from whole food sources, but to optimize your results protein supplements are going to be critical, especially right after your workouts. As we train there is increased blood flow to the muscles; this is the body’s natural way of calling out for needed nutrients to maximize muscle synthesis and minimize muscle fiber breakdowns. There is a 30-minute window from the end of your training session where protein consumption will exponentially multiply your results.
SO DON’T WASTE YOUR WORKOUT! A tasty post-workout protein shake is not only a satisfying treat for you, but it’s actually the best reward you could give those hard working muscles of yours!
Try this yummy shake recipe the trainers at Raw Fitness use the next time you hit it hard at the gym!
1 scoop “Warrior Blend” Vanilla Sun Warrior Protein Powder (or a protein powder of your choice)
8-12oz. of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 medium organic banana
4-8oz. of organic baby spinach