Whey Protein: what it does, who needs it, and why it's important

Walk into any supplement store and you’ll be immediately bombarded by 100s of products that you HAVE to have to be healthy. Ask the clerk what they recommend and they’ll probably rattle off a list that includes whey protein, casein protein, BCAAs, multivitamins, mass gainers, thermogenics, nootropics, antioxidants, pre-workouts, creatine, and this list could keep going.

While most of these products do serve of some use, they are still just supplements, and don’t replace eating real food in appropriate quantities. While I’m not at all vilifying any of these supplements, I think that a lot of people are missing the low hanging fruit when they elect to load up on a bunch of expensive supplements and justify eating poor quality food.

If someone religiously gets adequate sleep, eats the highest quality foods in correct proportions, and trains hard then I would say that all of these supplements could certainly aid them in stepping up their game but for most of us our time and money is better spent cleaning up our diet or improving our sleep quality.

The one supplement that I would recommend to everyone that can make an immediate impact on your progress in the gym is whey protein.

What it does: Whey protein is a byproduct of cheese but contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs to build and repair muscles. It comes in a powder form and is easily mixed in water, milk products, smoothies, or pudding. Whey protein is awesome because it metabolizes much faster than other protein sources and most high quality brands won’t sit heavy in your stomach.

Who needs it: Whey protein isn’t just for hulking bodybuilders who train three times a day, its for anyone who struggles meeting their daily protein requirements which is most Americans. It is also super convenient for anyone who is super busy and doesn’t always have time to have a full blown meal.

Why it’s important: Consuming adequate protein is vital when it comes to repairing muscle and promoting new growth. Lack of protein can be one of the top roadblocks when it comes to making progress in the gym. Protein can also be more difficult to get enough of in a day for multiple reasons. All protein sources regardless of if they are animal or plant based are going to cost more than carbohydrates or fats. Next, they aren’t always readily available when in need of a quick snack. Cooking a chicken breast will certainly take more time than grabbing a Poptart at the gas station. Lunch meats can be easy on the go snacks but they still need to be refrigerated. Whey protein is super convenient since all you need is a water bottle.

Whey protein is a great option anytime of the day regardless of busy schedule. I always train first thing in the morning so a scoop of whey protein doesn’t sit too heavy in my stomach but also gives me adequate fuel to get through workouts. Plus it takes less than 30 seconds to mix it with water and drink it on the way to the gym.

Bonus Shameless Plug: Now that you know some basics about whey protein, it's time to talk about the different kinds! Just like regular food, there are varying qualities of whey protein. When researching for a brand one the most important thing to look for is the label. If the ingredients list is longer than a word document then you probably want to avoid it as it contains lots of fillers. Also watch out for added sugars. Most high quality brands will contain only protein so if the label shows it has a lot of carbs or fat, it is probably best to avoid it.

At CrossFit Auburndale we sell Ascent Native Fuel Protein. Ascent is on the higher end when it comes to quality as its only ingredients are whey protein, cocoa (chocolate variety) natural flavors, soy lecithin, sea salt, monk fruit extract and stevia leaf extract. Just because it is high quality doesn’t mean it is overpriced. A bag will run you $42 which breaks down to just

$1.55 per serving.

My favorite flavor personally is the chocolate but we also sell vanilla, cappuccino, and lemon sorbet at the gym. I love Ascent because it tastes awesome, doesn’t break the bank, and I can take it anytime of day and it doesn’t upset my stomach.

Article written by Cameron Andrews, Owner/Operator - CrossFit Auburndale

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