Does Protein Actually Work?

Protein. Let’s talk about the supplement you always hear about inside and outside of the gym. It seems to be the supplement everyone uses most, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Does protein actually work? What does it do? It’s time we really look at this famous nutrient and figure out what it actually does for our body.

Generally speaking as humans, we need protein. Period.  However, if you are lifting on a regular basis and are not getting enough protein through food or supplementation, you could be damaging your muscles by starving them of this essential muscular building block.

Why you need protein

If you read this blog, you probably lift fairly consistently. Protein is one of those things that everyone in the gym talks about and uses. In reality though, a lot of them actually have no idea what it really does and why they need it. Often times they go by hearsay:

“Yea man, that swole dude going heavy on bench told me I should drink this stuff,”.

Then they go buy a massive tub of it at GNC, drink it for a week and let it sit in their pantry the rest of the year.

So what actually is protein and why is it so important to people like us who lift on a regular basis?

First off, everyone needs protein. Not just us lifters, but everyone. Protein is an important component of every cell in our bodies. Our hair and nails are even mostly made of proteins. It’s essential for every human being. However, it’s even more important for those of us that lift because it is used to build and repair tissues, like our muscles… and that is precisely what we do on a regular basis.

Second, similar to fat and carbohydrates, protein is a macronutrient. This means our bodies need a relatively large amount of it on regular basis; more so than vitamins and minerals which are considered micronutrients.

In other words, it’s pretty damn important. It’s not bad for you, and if you’re not getting enough of it you could be damaging your body and your gains in the gym.

Common myths

Like everything else in this world, there are varying theories and opinions surrounding the use of protein. So let’s go ahead and confront those right of the bat.

Myth #1: Protein powders are bad for you

This is simply untrue. I’ve heard countless times from people who think they know what they are talking about tell me how bad drinking protein as a supplement is. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Protein powders are simply protein broken down into powder form for easier consumption. It’s no different than drinking milk or a raw egg (although that is little gross). The powder itself is derived from foods such as egg or soy. It’s not steroids it’s just extremely broken down food.

Myth #2: People that lift don’t require higher amounts of protein

I actually hear this one a lot unfortunately. While there has been a lot of debate on this, I think the reality of it is quite simple. If you are active, and lift on a regular basis you need more protein than someone who does not. You are burning more calories and tearing muscle whereas more sedentary (or lazy) individuals are not. If you don’t believe me, check out the study done by Dr. Peter Lemon, a well known researcher in the field of protein intake. You can find his study here.

In his study he also mentions that more active individuals also need around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. It may seem like a lot, but if your constantly tearing muscles and rebuilding them you might understand why this is necessary.

Myth #3: You only get good quality protein from meat

False. Protein can be found in a lot of foods. Whole grains, dairy, eggs, and nuts are just a few of some other sources. Even some fruits and vegetables have protein in them. To put it simply, there are plenty of other sources to get your protein from other than beef, fish, chicken, lamb and pork. Protein shakes are a common supplement found throughout the lifting community and I firmly believe they are a great source of protein (in addition to getting it from meals).

Types of protein supplementation

When your looking to get a protein powder, you’ll notice that there are several different types of proteins. This can get really confusing so I’m going to give you some insight on some of the most common ones. Hopefully you will be able to decide which form is best for you.


Whey is the most basic form of protein supplementation and is fairly common among lifters. This is often times the least expensive option. This makes it great for beginner lifters because it is light on the wallet and is a great way to add some protein to your diet. However, you may find it hard to digest if you have a weaker stomach because it’s not as “pure” as whey isolate.

Whey Isolate

Whey isolate is one of the more expensive types of protein, but for good reason. Isolates are one of the fastest absorbing proteins on the market. This means the nutrients your muscles need to recover are getting there when they need it most; great for you gains. It is also one of the purest forms of protein and can be easier to digest. Whey isolate also goes great with low carb diets because they have very low carbohydrates and sugars.

Hydrolyzed Whey

Hydrolyzed whey protein is the most expensive form of protein. However, it is also the purest of all the types of protein. This also makes it the fastest absorbing protein of them all. This protein is the easiest on the digestive system because it is so pure. So if you are worried about your digestion or have a weak stomach, this might be your best bet. You can take it pre or post workout.

Casein Protein

Casein differs from the previous proteins because it is not focused on fast absorption. Casein is designed to break down slowly and release protein consistently over a period of time. It’s great for taking before bed, that way your body is getting the nutrients it needs while you are asleep; this is when your body repairs the most tissue.

Soy Protein

Although not as common, soy protein is still a good source of protein. It’s common among vegetarians and people who are allergic to dairy. It’s not as widely marketed and will probably be a bit more expensive. However, it’s still a very viable source of protein if the others don’t work for you or your body.

When to take your protein

Generally speaking, the best time to take your protein is right after your workout. Anywhere up to 40 minutes after your workout is optimal, but it’s not the end of the world if you wait longer. The reason being, after your workout your muscles are starving for the nutrients they need to repair themselves. The faster you feed them, the faster they can begin to repair and rebuild.

On the other hand, if you are taking a protein not designed to be absorbed as quickly (like casein) then you would be better off taking it directly before bed or in the mornings; this way it releases overnight or throughout the day.


Protein is a hot topic for everyone who who lifts. It’s an essential nutrient to our bodies as humans but for those of us who lift weights it is even that much more important. We really must keep in mind how much protein our bodies actually need and often times it’s more than you think. As I’ve said before, don’t slack on your diet just because you feel lifting is that much more important. Having a good diet is half the battle and you can make it that much easier on yourself by supplementing with protein.

Now hopefully next time some asks you in the locker room: does protein actually work? You’ll be able to back up and support your actions and not just be going by what that swole guy told you.

Keep it real bros.

3 thoughts on “Does Protein Actually Work?”

  1. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading
    properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking
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  2. ok look i’m 15 years old weigh in at 145 lbs and i’m 5’8, i’ve been workking out since i was 13 not too long. when i streatd i was 95 lbs and in two and a half years i gained 50 lbs of takes commitment, you have to go the gym 5 days a week for at least 12 weeks to see a difference in muscle and weight. MEAT LIKE FISH CHICKEN AND STEAK HAVE PROTEIN AND WILL HELP YOUR MUSCLE GROWTH GREATLY. whey protein is very good for you as well. eat lots of food (not junk) and do cardio like is a good schedule:monday-workouttuesday-runwed-workoutthurs-runfriday-workoutHIT all your muslces different ones each day and dont be afraid to rest your body grows the most when your sleeping


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