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Fitness & Health

03rd Oct 2016

This is the best protein powder for muscle building says Conor McGregor’s nutritionist

It's the last thing we expected...

Ben Kenyon

Protein builds muscles.

It’s an immutable fact. We need the amino acids in protein to help repair and build muscle tissue.

We all know it. But when it comes to supplementing with protein powders that’s where it becomes a little murkier and confusing.

There are so many different types of protein powder that it’s hard to know which one is right.

That’s why it’s always useful to listen to what the experts use to add extra protein into their diets on top of whole foods.

Where sports nutrition is concerned they don’t come much more experienced that Georges Lockhart. The man is a respected performance nutritionist for the likes of Conor McGregor and a host of UFC fighters, so he knows his stuff.

He dealt with the issue of protein powders in a video blog with Tristar Gym coach Firas Zahabi and what he said took us by surprise.

Everyone’s go-to protein powder post-workout is probably whey – because let’s face it, nothing tastes better than a protein-packed chocolate milkshake after you’ve just smashed the gym.

But it might not be the best choice for everyone, according to Lockhart who is preparing McGregor for Nate Diaz II at UFC 202.

He explained that a lot of people are actually lactose intolerant – in the UK around 5 per cent of people suffer the condition but in the US between 30 and 50 million people are.

It basically means your body can’t absorb lactose properly so it ferments in your system and causes symptoms like flatulence, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sickness.

“If they are lactose intolerant I want to give them a whey isolate. Isolate just means they removed all the lactose.

“If they are and they want to keep on the whey concentrate, we want to give them the enzyme lactase.”

Sport nutrition and bodybuilding fitness supplements concept - whey isolate, soy and egg protein cans on white background with reflection, wide angle shot from low point of view

Lactase basically helps the body process the lactose in milk and helps the body properly digest it – after all what’s the point of having a whey protein, if you’re not getting all the goodness?

This is where it gets interesting, as Lockhart revealed what protein he gives to his elite fighters that their bodies can utilise most efficiently to help them repair and build their muscles.

“A lot of times I don’t actually promote a protein, because I give kefir (a fermented milk probiotic) to a lot of people – kefir has the lactase.

“It’s got billions of probiotics which clean the system out and helps with the digestion process.

“The one though that is digested the most proficiently is actually vegetable protein. Like pea protein.

“Here’s the kicker – the amount of vegetables you’d have to eat is astronomical. So when they actually make the protein itself, it’s amazing stuff. It’s good for your body and your body absorbs it very proficiently and I will actually give it to a lot of fighters.”

Muscular shirtless male bodybuilder drinking protein shake from blender. Isolated on white, looking at camera

Pea protein has been gaining a lot of attention recently because of its incredible properties.

Contrary to popular belief, this plant based protein has a full spectrum of amino acids and holds its own against whey. It’s particularly high in arginine and lysine.

It’s fat free, allergen free and digests easily because it contains no gluten or lactose.

It also gave comparable muscle thickness gains to whey, according to this bicep study in The Journal of  the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

But one thing that Lockhart goes on to say is that there is no comparison between using protein powders and consuming your protein from whole foods.

The bioavailability of nutrients from actual foods is greater than from protein drinks. According to Precision Nutrition, it takes just one and a half hours for protein in liquid form to pass through your digestive system, giving less absorption time of that protein.

It’s a double-edged sword though as only 10g of protein per hour can be absorbed from whey. So if you do the maths on 50g of whey, that would be just 15g of protein absorbed before it’s passed through your gut.

Sports protein on the spoon, a banana and a glass of water on wooden table

Lockhart explains it like this…

“When it comes to drinking shakes, it’s not giving my body exactly what it needs. The bioavailability of that protein is not going to be as effective as eating chicken or eating fish. My body actually needs to eat these foods to get those nutrients.

“The big difference is the bioavailability. If I have a guy that’s just having shakes his body is not getting the nutrients. Just because I’m taking in nutrients doesn’t mean my body is getting them in the same way.

“Imagine plumbing. Your intestines are like pipes and you’ve got sludge in your pipes, which a lot of people do because they don’t take the right probiotics and clean out their system.

“But just because I’m eating the foods doesn’t mean they’re getting absorbed.

“A guy with clean pipes it’s absorbed a lot more proficiently.

“What I’m saying is if I’m taking those shakes, the way that my body does this, the time span and the amount of glycemic load it takes longer to digest so it’s able to get more of those nutrients.

“That’s why eating fibre is so important for people because it slows the digestion process down so my body can digest it and use those nutrients more proficiently.”

So the bottom line is, try and get as much protein from actual food as possible and your body will take up more of the nutrients. Snapchat