The Importance Of Protein

The Importance Of Protein

The Importance Of Protein

Protein intake is one of the most researched topics related to sports nutrition today. Proteins are important structural and functional elements that are present within cells and are involved in a wide range of cellular interactions. Proteins are essential building blocks for muscular growth and repair, and maintenance of overall good health.   

A good protein source should help promote muscle growth and post exercise recovery by ensuring that your body receives crucial amino acids. The reference nutrient intake for protein is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day for most adults1. However, this value is likely to be higher in athletic and highly active individuals. The majority of us will obtain this through a balanced diet, however, it can at times be difficult to difficult to eat the right foods without consuming unwanted calories. Protein supplements or shakes will be helpful for such individuals who require a higher macronutrient intake (i.e. higher protein), whilst maintaining a specific diet.

The power of protein shakes

Good sources of protein include lean beef, poultry and fish to mention a few. However, protein obtained through food isn’t always accessible, can be expensive and can contain high amounts of saturated fat (for example Lamb can contain up to 5g of saturated fat per 100g whilst providing 25g of protein).  Protein shakes can be an affordable, suitable alternative to help you conveniently reach your targeted daily protein goals. The Pharma Fitness whey protein powder, allows you to consume a high-quality, fast-absorbing protein source without consuming too many unwanted fats and carbohydrates.

There is a variety of protein shakes available, the 3 most common of which are whey concentrates, whey isolates and whey hydrolysate.  Concentrates are the least processed form of whey, and can contain between 45-80% of protein by weight. Whey isolates often undergo a ion exchange filtration process resulting in a product that is more than 90% protein by weight. Whey hydrolysates are further enzymatically processed and have reduced particulate size to help speed up absorption. [sb1]

The importance of a balanced diet

No single food contains all the essential nutrients required to keep our bodies fit and healthy. It is therefore important to consume a variety of different foods and have a balanced diet. As mentioned earlier, athletes and highly active individuals may be required to consume more protein than what is normally recommended, this is where supplementation with a protein shake may be beneficial. And because protein shakes are a quick and convenient way to supplement the bodies nutritional demands, they are often a go-to product of choice. After all, it's far easier to shake up a drink then it is to cook a beef steak.

How much protein should be taken?

The amount of protein that a person should be using to supplement their dietary intake is dependent upon their individual nutritional goals. For example, a sedentary person who isn’t exercising and trying to change their physique would need approximately 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. In contrast to this, an athlete or highly active person, who is trying to preserve lean muscle whilst reducing their body fat should aim for a daily protein intake of around 1.5 gram per kilogram of bodyweight. For overweight people, following the suggestion above will not prove beneficial as calculating daily protein intake based on bodyweight would result in a very calorific value. As a result they look to calculate their total calorie and protein intake based on an ideal BMI. [r.2]

Many individuals may be able to obtain the necessary amount of protein through a varied and balanced diet. If daily protein targets are met in this way then it may not always be necessary to use additional supplements!

Some of the frequently asked questions about protein supplements are:

Q: You should only have a protein shake after a workout?

A: The metabolic window is regarded as a 30-minute period after exercise. There is a long-standing theory printed in countless bodybuilding publications that suggest that you have this window of opportunity to replenish the body with essential amino acids to cause the body to shift from a catabolic state to an anabolic state (a state of rebuilding muscle). However, a recent study conducted in 2017 on the effects of pre- versus post-exercise protein intake concluded that “the presence of a narrow anabolic window of opportunity was not demonstrated2” by participants consuming protein within 30 minutes of resistance training. This study, therefore, concluded that the effects of protein supplementation would be similar whether you choose to consume protein immediately before or after a workout.

However, if you start your training session more than 4 hours after your last meal, you would want to then consume around 30 grams of protein to ensure that your body reverses the catabolic state that it may be in and help flood your system with the essential amino acids that it requires.

A lot of the older studies which investigated the “metabolic window” only took into consideration the effects of consuming protein post work out. These studies did not take into consideration the overall daily caloric intake and it could have been the lack of dietary control which led to improvements in strength and muscle size. This could potentially indicate that it is more important to consume a balanced diet, with adequate portions of protein (25-30 grams) and carbohydrates as opposed to chasing the metabolic window.

Q: There are a few different types of proteins available. Which one is the best? Does more expensive mean better results?

We touched on 3 different types of whey powders earlier, but in actual fact, the range of different powders is far greater than that. For example, there is mixed plant protein, soy protein and casein protein to mention but a few. For purposes of simplicity, we will concentrate on the 2 most commonly used forms of whey amongst people exercising in the gym and athletes.

Whey concentrate is a form of whey which has undergone a process to remove the excess water and lactose. The process aims to achieve a protein content of up to 80% protein, with the remaining 20% of the powder consisting of carbohydrates and fats. As a result of this, whey concentrates are often cheaper than other forms.

Whey isolates are one of the purest forms of protein powders that are available. To achieve a protein content greater than 90%, the product is further treated to remove excess carbohydrates, fat and lactose. One disadvantage to using an isolate is that due to the separation method involved in achieving a greater bioavailability of protein, there is a theoretical risk that some of the protein may become denatured and therefore reduce its effectiveness. However, isolates are normally lower in fat and carbohydrates and so are often preferred by individuals looking to lose weight. In addition to this, the treatment process removes a large amount of lactose, and so the resulting product is well tolerated amongst individuals who are lactose intolerant.

Regardless of the method of treatment, both types of whey protein contain a high concentration of branched chain amino acids which play an important role in preventing the catabolic breakdown of muscle protein during bouts of strenuous exercise.

The type of protein which is most suitable for you will, therefore, depend on a number of reasons. Firstly you should consider your goal, if it is to lose weight and count every single macro then you would want to use an isolate. If you don't mind an extra gram or two of carbs and fats then a whey concentrate may be a more suitable option for you as well as being slightly cheaper. More expensive does not necessarily mean better results.

For more information or advice on the types of protein supplements available visit us at

Every reasonable has been made to ensure that the information provided in this blog is accurate and clear. If you think you may have noticed an error please contact us on [email protected], and we shall try to correct it as soon as possible. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your GP on any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

1: Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. H.M. Stationery Office; London, UK: 1991. Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom; pp. 1–210.

2: Schoenfeld, B., Aragon, A., Wilborn, C., Urbina, S., Hayward, S. and Krieger, J. (2017). Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations. PeerJ, 5, p.e2825.