Protein is consumed to help aid muscle repair and increase muscle growth, but protein itself does not constitute a negative repercussion unless the consumer mismanages their protein intake.
Protein consumption is a common aspect of many people’s normal workout procedure. The amount of different kinds of protein that is available to people ranges from organic, to powder, to shakes and to bars.
Kurt Escobar, a UNM Ph.D. student and undergraduate professor specializing in Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, said the idea that different forms of protein have different varying levels of effectiveness is not true.
He said the human body recognizes amino acids, not where these acids come from.
The idea is that protein is protein wherever you get it from. However, Escobar said there is a difference in the quality of protein that people can consume and protein supplements are known for having a concentrated level of high-quality protein. Although you can still get this same high-quality protein from organic foods as well, it’s just up to one’s preference.
Diego Rigales, a UNM architecture student and avid gym user, said he works out often and sees the results of his protein intake combined with his regular work outs.
Rigales prefers protein supplements that are unaltered and that are as natural as possible, even the ones that taste bland, he said. He usually takes his protein supplement about an hour after he works out to maximize his results.
A common misconception people have about the timing and intake of protein is that they believe in the anabolic window which specifically is targeted toward resistance training, Escobar said. The window directs people to consume protein within about 30 to 60 minutes post-exercise for it to be most effective.
“It’s not like an anabolic window per se, it’s more like an anabolic garage door. If you consume protein, your body becomes anabolic, building muscle and recovery and repair, for about three to four hours, if you consumed a sufficient amount,” Escobar said.
“As long as you consumed some protein source between a three-to-four-hour window of exercise, whether that be before exercise or after exercise, you’re fine. So, the whole premise of you having 30 to 60 minutes to consume protein and if you consume protein after that, you’ve wasted your work out. That’s shenanigans.”
Protein is used as a dietary supplement to help muscle growth, not used to reduce body weight, unless the calorie intake is less than the energy of calories expended during workouts.
There are other types of supplements people use to help gain maximum results from their workout endeavors, Escobar said. However, he warns people to be cautious about what they put in their body.
“Protein is a benign supplement…In order to be able to sell a supplement, it doesn’t have to be approved by the FDA,” Escobar said. “They could put anything on the label, any sort of claim…There doesn’t have to be any data that shows that…It’s essentially a free-for-all.”
He warns potential consumers that if you see an outrageous claim on the packaging of a supplement, it’s probably too good to be true. He also warned people that these other supplements could have hundreds of ingredients in them and that not all of them are benign.
Escobar gave an example of a popular pre-workout supplement, a couple of years ago, that he tried but thought it was horrible.
Later he found out that a fit, young adult male consumed the same pre-workout that Escobar did and went for a run. The young male was put into cardiac arrest and died.
Escobar said that you run the risk of something like that happening to you, though it is unlikely — but it is still a potential risk.
Marco Torrez is a freelance multimedia reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @marcopolo7721.