It’s important to remember that supplements are there to enhance your nutritional plan, says Marliëtte Hugo, who works in training and development at GNC South Africa. “The biggest misconception is that you only need to drink your shakes and forget about what you eat,” she says.
As well as sticking to a healthy eating plan, when, how much, and which supplements you take can make all the difference to achieving your goals. Hugo tells us what we need to know…
1. What should you look for?
Always look for the highest percentage of protein per serving when choosing a protein supplement. If you need a fast-acting supplement after a training session, try a whey protein. For a slower-releasing option before bedtime, opt for a casein-based formulation. Check the ingredients for enzymes like amylase, protease, bromelain and papaya, which all help with the absorption of protein.
2. What are the benefits?
Hugo explains that the combination of macronutrients in your diet (nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats that provide calories or energy) and a protein supplement can put your body in an anabolic state – the state that allows muscle growth to occur. Other factors like the correct training regime and adequate rest also help with muscle growth.
3. When should you take it?
Whey protein is ideal for directly after a workout because of the fast absorption of the amino acids. Have a blended shake containing whey, milk protein isolate, casein, and egg albumen or an amino acid blend about 90 minutes before a workout.
4. How much do I need?
If you are an active person, you need 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. “Try and get the majority of your protein from solid foods and the rest from supplementation,” suggests Hugo.
5. Should I choose pure protein or include carbs?
According to Hugo, this depends on what you want to achieve. “If you are on an extremely low carbohydrate or ketogenic eating plan, then pure protein is best. If you want to use it as a meal replacement, get a shake with a ratio of roughly 60% protein and 40% carbohydrates, and make sure it’s high in fibre,” she says.
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