Whey protein: why is it so important for sportspeople?

Whey protein: why is it so important for sportspeople?

Whey Protein, is one of the most used nutritional supplements among sportspeople

It provides a series of characteristics that are truly useful for those who practice sports, regardless of the modality or discipline, from aerobic activities to strength training. Let’s see what are the virtues of Whey Protein.

Benefits of taking Whey Protein

A protein supplement or shake is an excellent way of taking proteins to meet the nutritional requirements. Any athlete or sportsperson knows that having healthy habits is the only way to get the best results and to face the energy demands of each workout and competition. Protein shakes are nothing else than a source of this important and essential macronutrient.

The main reason is that it has a great potential to increase the strength and encourage muscle recovery.

The success of this product lies on its optimal balance of essential amino acids (EAAs) and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are necessary for anabolism and the regeneration of muscle tissue, apart from having a high percentage of glutamine. Many consumers have many doubts regarding the dose, the frequency, which sport disciplines will benefit more from it, and what is the best moment to take it and obtain the best and most efficient results.

Click here to learn about the different Types of Protein.

Why is whey the best protein for sportspeople?

Whey protein is “perfect” for sportspeople due to its essential amino acids supply (which are vital for muscle growth) and its high biological value (the amount of protein that the body retains):

Essential amino acids balance

A protein needs at least eight essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and theonine) in order to be a complete protein. Moreover, it needs proper amounts of glutamine, cysteine, and arginine, which are essential to promote muscle anabolism, strengthen the immune system, and enhance the production of the growth hormone, which is involved in the growth and regeneration of tissues.

Biological value of proteins (BV)

It is measured through the nitrogen balance in the body and it refers to the amount of protein that the organism absorbs compared to the amount it consumes. Nitrogen is used by the body to enhance the synthesis of tissues and to block the catabolism or protein breakdown. The use of proteins with a high BV allows a better growth and repair of muscle mass. The biological value is a standardized number that expresses how adequate a protein is for human consumption. Whey protein possesses the highest biological value.

Whey protein, the ideal supplement for all sports

Normally, whey protein is specially used in strength sports (anaerobic sports)

As we have previously mentioned, whey protein is a great source of essential amino acids which are absorbed quickly and which increase the amino acids in the blood plasma. All in all, it provides the necessary elements for the preservation and recovery of muscle mass.

Strength Training

Whey protein is specially rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAA). The supplementation with this type of amino acids before and after strength training and workouts results in a enhanced activation of the physiological systems that regulate the absorption and synthesis of protein in the cell system. Therefore, the use of whey protein after training encourages muscle growth and regeneration.

Endurance Training

However, whey protein is also an excellent choice for endurance athletes. Runners, swimmers, or cyclists tend to worry more about consuming carbs that will help them to cope with long workouts and competitions. But, sometimes, they tend to underestimate the consumption of proteins. Endurance athletes also need a higher protein supply since it can improve their physical performance and significantly contribute to regenerating the muscle fibers that are broken down due to physical stress.

The organism mainly uses glycogen and fats as a source of energy during endurance sports, but when the session is too long and the body runs out of glycogen, there is an enzyme that becomes active to oxidize the branched chain amino acids (which are essential amino acids that are mainly located in the muscle). This helps to produce energy directly in the muscle, which also releases alanine in the blood that travels to the liver in order to be transformed into glucose, which can also be used as fuel.

Fixing this protein breakdown is one of the main objectives of intra and post-workout supplementation, in order to reduce muscle damage and favor the state of the athlete for the following workout session or competition

How much protein should I take depending on the sport I practice?

General Advise

The general advise for most people is:

1.7 – 2.5 grams of protein per kg of weight

However, for sportspeople it is advised to consume more depending on the sport and other factors.

Endurance Sports

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) if you practice endurance sports (like running, swimming, etc) you will need 1-1.6g of protein/kg weight/day. Using more or less will depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise, which will be higher for a performance athlete and lower for an amateur.

Strength and Power Sport

On the other hand, it is advisable to consume 1.6-2g/kg/day in strength/power sports. It is also advisable to take 1.4-1.7g/kg/day on average for intermittent exercises like football or basketball, even though there are less studies.

power-athlete-whey
High intensity activities require a higher protein supply for athletes

When should we use protein shakes?

According to what we said at the beginning of the article, protein shakes meet the requirements of those sportspeople who need a protein supply in their diet. For this, the choice is clear when it comes to taking a protein shake:

Take it whenever you need a protein supply

However, there are some moments when taking a protein shake is going to be more useful.

Some of these moments are (we have chosen the most efficient choices, which can be replaced or combined with others):

Breakfast: our choice would be a Whey Protein Concentrate
Before training: we would take a Whey Protein Isolate
After the workout: a Hydrolyzed Whey Protein would be a great choice
During the workout: another Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Before sleeping: the best choice would be a slow release protein like in the case of Casein

If you want to know what are the effects of Casein, click here
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