Everything you need to know about protein
Protein is derived from 'Prota', an Ancient Greek word literally meaning 'of primary importance'
Where your training, nutrition and overall body composition are concerned, this is definitely the case. Such is the prevalence of protein - and protein powder in general - that questions are frequently asked regarding its use.
With broscience a big problem in spreading fit myths, here is the authoritative word on all your common questions.
How much protein do I really need?
Protein is essential for both muscle gain and fat loss - so it's worth working out how much you need.
In terms of your daily intake, the American College of Sports Medicine recommend anything from 1.6 to 2 grams per kilo of bodyweight each day.
For an 80kg guy, that's anything from 128 to 160 grams per day.
Might sound a lot, but three to four meals with one or two additional shakes around training will easily hit this target.
Can protein help me lose weight?
Protein isn't just about mass-building.
Your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does carbs or fat, so it's also important from a weight loss perspective.
Due to its role in fuelling growth, protein also protects muscle mass when you're looking to get lean.
Losing fat is far better than losing weight for the sake of it, and muscle has a greater density than fat.
Is protein powder better than real food?
Protein shakes are a hugely convenient tool if food is impractical - e.g. pre or post-workout, when travelling or if you're busy at work.
Whey in particular is rich in leucine, the most potent of the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), and is rapidly-absorbed by the body.
With the exception of this convenience, however, real food is always the priority.
Your appetite is regulated by the amount of chewing you do, so liquid nutrition alone will not cut the mustard.
Protein sources such as salmon, turkey, chicken and steak also contain many beneficial micronutrients that you won't obtain from supplements.
For instance, fish oil and B vitamins boost your brain function and energy production.
Is too much protein bad for my kidneys?
Too much food of any kind could cause obesity if you consume excessive calories. Obesity is linked to poorer kidney function.
Beyond this, there is very little evidence that high protein intake damages your kidneys.
A study conducted by the University of Connecticut found no link between protein intake and kidney issues in healthy people.
Those with pre-existing kidney problems should consult their GP prior to taking any supplements or beginning any fitness regime.
Is whey protein a steroid?
If your Mum, wife, mate or girlfriend has thrown this accusation at you, rest easy knowing that protein powder is not an anabolic steroid.
That's not to say it won't help you get jacked though.
As above, the amino acids that comprise protein are absolutely essential for building, repairing and growing muscle mass after resistance training.
Don't expect to get guns like Popeye from just downing a few shakes, though.
Your training needs to progressively overload each muscle group, and you need sufficient sleep in order to recover.