Before I start I just want to mention that all the information below is based on personal opinion. This is the knowledge I have built up in the fitness industry and my experiences on supplementation and health in the gym environment.
The subject on supplementing your body with a bunch of different powders and pills can get very scientific and we can go very deep into this matter but nobody wants to sit and read about how your body digests branch chain amino acids and how our hormones react to artificial testosterone boosters. So let’s keep it simple.
Let’s talk about protein powders. So you get loads of different protein powders with the most common one’s being your Whey Protein and Mass gainers so for a start let us focus on them. The main idea of a mass gainer as the word says is for weight gain(obviously). These products are usually very calorie dense and some can contain around 400+ calories per 100 gram of powder with around 72 g of carbs 2.5 g of fats and 25 g protein. This is only half a serving. If I can put it into perspective a full serving of this mass gainer would be equal to 8 eggs in protein content and the carbohydrates will equal out at around 7 slices of brown bread. Though this does not mean that a mass gainer is some kind of magic thing that if you drink it after hitting the gym that you will turn into some kind of mini hulk in 3 weeks. This is a common misconception many beginner gym goers and teenagers have on supplements. For a beginner who wants to build muscles the main focus is to get in a certain amount of calories so that he can gain weight at a substantial rate, right? Yes, but taking a supplement like a mass gainer is not always the best solution as it does not have all the needed micro-nutrients and quality carbohydrates your natural foods like oatmeal and eggs have and this is crucial for giving you energy for your workouts and making sure you get the best possible recovery. Yes it can be hard to get in all that food that equals out to a protein shake but sacrifice a bit of calories and get in a proper meal with an abundance of benefits than just slurping down a protein shake.
As a beginner make your “bodybuilding” journey a fun one. How does pancakes sound? Yes pancakes! Slap a few pancakes together pre-workout with some peanut butter or honey and there you go(remember moderation) or throw some extra peanut butter on your sandwich for school. Sneak in extra calories wherever you can. Just keep healthy choices in mind and don’t go overboard on the sugars and takeaways. Try and get in most of your foods from whole food sources(Veg, eggs, potatoes, steak) and limit refined food sources(Pastries, candy, pizza, soda). Prioritize your mass shakes for times when you will not be able to get a meal in or when the day is going to be too busy to make food.
What Is Whey Protein? Well whey is probably the most used powdered supplement in the fitness industry. It is used for building lean muscle and losing weight by men and women. To me this is a great supplement to always have close by. It is great for adding to smoothies and supplementing your daily energy needs. It contains small amounts of fats and carbs and is mainly a protein source, but same goes for your whey. This is no fancy powder. Most whey proteins are made from milk using filtration technologies. This means your are actually just drinking powdered milk and in some instances egg whites with some flavour added to it.
So my personal opinion would be that there is nothing wrong with a good old protein shake but nothing beats a proper balanced meal. As we all know a protein shake just is much easier to get in and there is no effort into throwing some powder into milk/water shake it up and off you go. So here’s what I do. Always keep a good quality mass gainer/ whey protein in your cupboard. Use it only when really needed such as long road trips or busy days where you will not get time to make a proper meal. You can even use it to make great smoothies which I would definitely recommend and is probably the best way to make use of such supplements as you get in a wide variety of nutrients(p.s. give it a go in your oats). Nutrients from whole food sources will always be our best option so focus on that first before jumping into a tub of powder and hoping to see the best results.
I hope this will help you kickstart your fitness journey in the right direction. Always remember that nutrition is the cornerstone of any athletes performance and results. So strive to work on your nutrition and you will see the difference in not time.
JW Le Roux