Since the beginning, athletic endeavors and sports supplements have gone hand in hand. We’ve come a long way from ancient Greek wrestlers chewing on rhodiola leaves to the multi-billion dollar supplement industry we see today and we will continue to make progress in the future. The purpose of this series is to educate you on the planning and implementation of a quality supplement protocol to help you meet your goals. In part one we will talk about protein powders. In the second part we will talk about the peri workout window and other performance enhancing supplements. Finally, in the third part we will discuss supplements for health and some of the lesser known supplements like nootroptics. But first, let’s begin with a little segment on the state of the supplement industry.
Just as supplements have been around for a very long time, so has the practice of misleading consumers when it comes to the effectiveness of different supplements. Snake oil salesmen still exist today in this industry. Because there is very little FDA regulation into the supplement industry, companies do not have to back up their claims. With millions of dollars to be made, there have been numerous companies who have been busted for not including the ingredients they claimed were in the product and for adding in ingredients that they didn’t list (sometimes even illegal ones). This is exacerbated by the false advertising that occurs including photoshopping photos to make results look more dramatic and using sponsored athletes who don’t even use their products at all. As much as this sucks, there are plenty of good companies out there that do have the moral integrity to do things the right way. The trouble is that without the correct education, it is very difficult to determine what companies are doing things the right way and which companies are trying to screw you out of your hard earned money. One simple way is to look at the claims they are making for their products. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Supplements are just a small piece in the process of improving health, performance, and physique and no matter how much money you pour into them, they will never be able to make up for a poor training program and a poor diet. Supplements can help make the process easier and slightly quicker but they are never going to be able to do alone what they could do with proper training and nutrition thrown in the mix as well. So, with that being said, the majority of the products that I am going to discuss in this series come from a company called 1st Phorm. They are a company that I know is doing things the right way. They don’t make outrageous claims for their products, they sell things that have been proven to work, and they promote and help educate people on the importance of quality nutrition and training. They also don’t use false advertising and instead let their customers promote their products for them. They make the supplements that I personally take and the supplements that I feel good about selling at NBS Fitness.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about protein. I tried my very first protein supplement in 8th grade. It was chalky and tasted like the most disgusting chocolate I’d ever had but being the hardcore teenager that I was, I choked it down anyways. Luckily for all of us, the protein products on the market now are a much higher quality and an infinitely better taste. When we start discussing protein powder, we need to first discuss the source. There are lots of different sources for protein powder to be derived from. The most common source is whey (the liquid after milk has been curdled and strained) but there is also protein powder made from casein (what is used to make cheese), soy, hemp, and beef. Unless you suffer from some sort of food allergy like lactose intolerance or follow certain dietary restrictions like a vegan diet, I highly suggest you make whey your source for protein supplements. The reason for this is because of it’s bioavailability compared to other sources. Bioavailability is basically a scale of how much use your body can get out of a certain protein. The term complete protein just means that it has all of the essential amino acids present but the varying amounts of all amino acids in a food will affect its bioavailability. Whey protein has a much higher bioavailability than any other potential source. When it comes to building muscle, having all amino acids present is necessary which means you need a constant supply of all essential amino acids in your blood stream. Whey is the best way to make this happen.
Now there are two different types of whey protein available: isolate and concentrate. Concentrate is the by product of the cheese making process. Once the water and casein is removed from milk, you are left with whey concentrate. To get whey isolate, the concentrate must go through a process in which the lactose, fat, and cholesterol are removed. The less extensive version of this process involves the use of high temperatures which then can cause protein degradation and leave a lower quality product afterwards. The better version is low temperature cross flow filtration which leaves the protein intact and a much higher quality end product. Another form of whey is whey hydrolysate. This is a protein in which enzymes have been added to help breakdown the bonds between the amino acids making it easier and quicker to digest.
Which Should You Take?
So which should you take? Well, that all depends on your goal. Whey concentrate is going to be less expensive since it doesn’t go through as many processes. This does however mean that it is going to digest a bit slower and has a bit more fat and carbs in it than isolate does. If you’re not necessary needing to manage your calories that precisely and are looking for a slower digesting protein to use as a meal replacement, concentrate is a good choice. Whey isolate is going to be a little more expensive because of the processes it must go through but it will be more calories from protein with less fat and carbs and it is going to digest faster. If you buy an isolate, make sure that you are getting one that is low temperature cross flow filtrated. It costs a little more but very important to have a high quality protein that hasn’t been denatured. If you’re dieting and have to account for all extra calories or if you’re looking for a post workout protein that will get into your system and start the recovery process, whey isolate is the choice to make. Finally, whey hydrolysate is going to have a bit of a bitter taste to it. Companies try to mask this as best they can but if you get a pure hydrolysate, it’s going to have a bitter taste. The best time for whey hydrolysate is post workout.
The two protein products that we sell and that I take and recommend are Level 1 and Phormula 1 by 1st Phorm. Level 1 is a protein blend with whey isolate, whey concentrate, and some egg protein as well. This is going to give you the perfect amount of slow digesting protein to use as a meal replacement with a little bit of quicker digesting isolate to get into your system quickly. With tons of different flavors, it tastes pretty dang delicious too. Level 1 is also a little bit cheaper than Phormula 1. Phormula 1 is a combination of whey isolate and hydrolyzed whey isolate. This is the perfect protein for post workout when you need all those amino acids in your blood stream quickly, ready to get converted into tissue or energy. It is also extremely delicious.
Now that our first part of the series is over be sure to check out part two next month and a reminder that both Level 1 and Phormula 1 can be purchased from NBS Fitness or from the supplement section on our website.