10 INNOVATIVE IDEAS CONCERNING YOUR FAVOURITE SUPPLEMENT
By Jenevieve Roper PhD (ABD), CSCS
Protein is easily the most commonly used supplement in the sports nutrition world. Protein can come in many forms, including whey, casein, egg, rice, hemp, and even beef. Just about all of them are considered complete proteins, so you get all of your essential amino acids in a single serving. And with so many forms, it’s almost impossible to go wrong when supplementing with it. That said, there is more to it than simply “mix-drink-repeat.” Take these tips, and, with the right regimen, you’ll be experiencing maximal muscle growth.
#1: Cook with protein powder. When doing so, be sure to add moisture. This is particularly true if you’re baking or making pancakes. A lot of times, products made with protein powder can end up dry and very thin. Try adding ingredients like cottage cheese (this works particularly well for pancakes!), pumpkin or sweet potato puree, applesauce, bananas, etc. This keeps your food from falling flat and tasting great!
#2: Bake with egg protein. If you do plan on baking with protein powder, be sure to select egg protein. Other proteins tend to denature at higher temperatures, leaving their ability to elicit an anabolic response slightly altered. But because egg protein comes from, well, eggs, it’s perfectly safe to use at higher temperatures, as it withstands the heat better. Again, add a little moisture, and those muffins or protein bars will be magnificent.
#3: Lactose intolerant? Avoiding dairy? Unfortunately, whey and casein protein are made from dairy products and can potentially cause you some problems. A solution? Give hemp protein a try. It’s naturally lactose-free, yet still has all of your essential amino acids. And since it’s made with hemp seeds, it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have great heart-protecting benefits. It’s also great for vegans! If you are set on using a whey protein, stick with whey protein isolate, as it has less lactose content compared to the others.
#4: Use casein to cure your late-night munchies. One of the hardest things to manage when dieting is waking up in the middle of the night with a stomach growl. The cure? Have a casein protein shake just before you go to bed. Casein is a slow-digesting protein that will keep you feeling full overnight.
#5: Take hydrolyzed whey protein post-exercise. Right after you exercise, one of the things we preach in the fitness industry is consuming protein to maximize your anabolic window. While it’s still debated how long that window lasts, it’s best to try to consume some protein as quickly as possible. This is when hydrolyzed whey protein is best used. Unlike casein, it’s a fast-acting protein that gets absorbed quickly, maximizing your anabolic response. And it helps muscles absorb glucose to help replenish those glycogen stores.
#6: Stack your protein with other supplements. The thing about protein is that it goes well with just about everything. But there are a few things, in particular, that you should know help increase protein’s ability to build muscle. The main one is another crowd favourite — creatine. Creatine is known for its ability to increase lean mass, so stacking protein with creatine will give you that extra boost you want.
#7: Make a protein dip. Sometimes shakes can get boring and you just need a change. Try adding protein to some of your favourite dips. Guaca- mole is great for this — add a scoop of hemp protein to it to help keep you even more satisfied. The protein and fat combination will keep you feeling full, and eating it with your favourite veggies will make it a guilt-free snack.
#8: Don’t take more than 40 grams per sitting. One mindset that people often fall into is that the more protein you consume, the better. This is only true to a certain extent. Because your kidneys and liver work overtime when you are on a high-protein diet, trying to excrete the excess nitrogen, this can strain those organs and leave you feeling awful. One way to avoid this is to not consume more than 40 grams in a single sitting. Your body is only going to break down and absorb so much, and the rest goes right to the toilet. So don’t pay for expensive bathroom breaks; sometimes less is more.
#9 Try smoothies instead of shakes. Another popular way to use protein is in a smoothie. Sometimes you can get flavour fatigue (or just overall fatigue!) from making a protein shake with the basic powder and water. The consistency is thin, and taste can suffer. Try using unsweetened vanilla almond milk to thicken its consistency, and mix in some fresh fruit. Strawberries, half a banana, ice, and ground flaxseed mix well for a great-tasting, wholesome, and healthy alternative to your typical shaker bottle concoction.
#10: Indulge in high-protein snacks. Depending on the time of day, a shake just isn’t going to cut it. This is a good time to grab some high-protein snacks and meal replacement bars. There are plenty of varieties out there, and it takes some searching to find one that satisfies your taste buds, but once you find one you like, you can use it instead of (or in addition to) protein shakes. Now, be cautious, as these tend to have higher carbohydrate content than basic shakes, but they can be just as good as long as you adjust your macros in other meals appropriately.