Why You Need Protein & Why It Doesn’t Make you Look like Arnie

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] remember when I first started going to the gym; the not knowing of what to eat, how much to eat and the FRUSTRATION it caused. It was driving me MAD, I just ended up eating what I read in Men’s Health (true story) and never learning WHY I was eating something.


I totally underestimated the importance of protein and how protein supplementation really worked. “Surely if I drink loads of these shakes I’m going to get massive” Oh how naive I was back then haha!


Anyway, it struck me the other day that I get asked this question A LOT by clients, especially female clients: “why do I need to eat so much protein, won’t those shakes make me too muscly?”. So I thought Id put it in writing for all of you to have a quick read over…


The answer in short is, you won’t get “too muscular”.Especially you ladies, I haven’t ever seen it happen in all the years I have been training people. If only it was that easy, eh?

If it was that simple to build lean muscle, every lad in the gym would be walking around looking like Arnie, but they aren’t. So if males are struggling to get more muscle, with much higher natural levels of testosterone (a very important part of muscle building), how likely is it that a female trying to add muscle, becoming “too muscular”? Bearing in mind that females have a lot less natural testosterone then their male counterparts.


Proteins only fall second to water in hierarchy within the human body. They are the building blocks of our muscle tissue, organs, bones, hair and they play a vital part in the bodies chemical reactions, regulating your metabolism and hormones. They also provide us with energy.


For our bodies to run efficiently, we must provide it with its bare minimum requirements of protein on a daily basis. So if we are now training and taxing our body regularly and causing damage to our muscular tissue, expending more energy and looking to improve our metabolism, it makes sense that we increase our protein intake, to accommodate for this, right?


Would you supplement with protein instead of eating from lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs?

Definitely not, food ALWAYS comes first. Supplements are exactly that, they supplement healthy nutrition. The majority of your protein should come from eating, not supplementation.


So where do whey protein shakes come into play?

The most beneficial place for a protein shake is immediately post-workout. This is due to the high bioavailability (BV). BV is how fast our body can digest and use a protein. All different sources of protein have differing levels of BV, whey isolate having the highest score. Post-workout, we want to start repairing and recovering as soon as possible, meaning that using a whey protein shake straight after your workout would be the most beneficial source of protein as it gets to work quicker.


I also recommend client’s to use protein shakes when they are on the go, as having a protein shake is FAR superior to picking up a chocolate bar. Try sticking to the one a day rule. On training days use a whey protein shake post-workout, on non-training days use it as a snack if you need to bump up your protein for the day.


Take home notes:


  • Protein intake needs to be increased if you are training regularly (even if your goal is weight loss!)
  • Protein shakes WON’T make you look like Arnie (sorry fellas!)
  • Protein shakes shouldn’t be used as meal replacements
  • Protein shakes are best used post-workout


Hopefully that has cleared up some common questions and myths about protein for you guys and gals just getting into a gym routine. Remember, if you are unsure; contact a professional and take out the guess work.



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