How to choose the right protein and when to use it? You will find these and other frequently asked questions about protein supplements in this article.


Do I need to consume proteins to gain muscle mass?

Yes, that is essential! You cannot substitute protein intake with increased consumption of carbohydrates or fats because our organism cannot turn those into proteins. And proteins are the building stones of the muscle mass since they allow the contractions of muscle fibres – meaning they allow movement, the basic muscle function. We do not only produce proteins continuously, but we also use them up continuously, and these two processes are running at the same time, so we need to supply our body with protein constantly. In an ideal situation we would be capable to get enough proteins from our natural diet and we wouldn’t need any protein concentrates. But the ones who work out and aim for muscle mass gain have a significantly higher demand for proteins than more passive individuals, so no matter on what performance level they are, they practically cannot do without proteins. You can find tips for bodybuilding beginners here.

How much protein shall I consume daily?

What is the ideal dose of protein to support muscle mass gain? We use a so-called recommended daily dose (RDD) for non-exercising individuals, and of protein that is 0,8 to 1 gram to 1 kg body weight (BW). These RDDs are slightly different internationally, but there is some general agreement on the dose.

On the other hand, the recommendations for sportsmen are much more divergent. Starting at 1,2–1,4 g for endurance athletes, through 1,6–1,8 g for endurance-strength athletes, to 2,2–2,5 g for strength-pace athletes (bodybuilders, weightlifters, sprint runners, etc.) – all to 1 kg of BW.

I would recommend an average dose around 2 g per 1 kg BW for conditional training in gyms. If you encounter dosage 3–5 g of protein per 1 kg of BW at top or professional sportsmen’s’ diet, I wouldn’t recommend following this way. This is a dosage that can be “processed” only assuming a massive use of anabolic steroids. You should keep in mind that any recommended dosages are very broad and are designed to fit the largest number of individuals, but there are significant individual differences. The total protein intake equals all proteins contained in the natural sources and in protein concentrates.

How to pick the right protein for my needs? Which indicators shall I follow (price, source, aim, ingredients)?

Given tens and tens of protein concentrates on the market, this question is only seemingly difficult. It is important to realize that if we sort proteins out to groups based on their composition and the required aim, the choice is then much easier and other criteria like price and understandably the taste, if you have a chance to try the protein out, become only supportive. It is also practical to ask your more experienced gym buddies for advice.

You need to reflect on the aim of your protein intake – the first protein choice should always be the whey protein concentrate since it is used after workout and that is the most important phase of protein concentrate intake (further intakes include before workout proteins and daily proteins consumed as a snack). It takes one look at the label to know whether the given protein is a single ingredient protein (containing whey protein only). The second protein choice is a bedtime protein (before sleeping). Here you need to go for a different composition where the main ingredient should be the protein called casein. It usually also contains whey protein, for an anabolic “go” phase, and often egg white protein (ovalbumin), and soy protein. To know the reality, you can just check the label.

Do not rather buy any proteins that do not have clear and defined ingredients on the label.

Another group of proteins are the ones with a maximum lasting effect that should exceed 5 hours. Night proteins should serve the same purpose since the target is more or less the same, therefore the composition should be more or less the same. These proteins are used when the optimal protein intake (every 3 hours) is not possible.

Watch for proteins with a suspiciously low price (except for special offers) and read their labels carefully – they often contain large amounts of plant proteins such as wheat protein and have a high level of lactose and milk fat. On the other side, higher price does not necessarily mean better protein. If you aim for muscle shaping or losing subcutaneous fats, look for proteins not only low in fats, but also low in carbohydrates.

What time is suitable for consuming protein?

The general idea in bodybuilders’ diet is a frequent protein supply – at least six times a day, approximately every three hours. The reason is that our organism doesn’t have any “storages” for proteins, unlike for carbohydrates (that are limited) and especially unlike for fats. That means that it is impossible to store protein for times of protein deficit. Proteins are the essential building stones of muscle mass! If we don’t supply them (as we know, muscles grow when we rest), the creation process of muscle mass is slowed down. For those exercising individuals who want to create optimal conditions for muscle mass production and for muscle strength – the more often the protein intake, the better (of course with some limitations for the single dose). Those who eat only three times a day cannot expect significant results.

Shall I consume protein before breakfast? If yes, how long ago before breakfast and shall I have breakfast afterwards? How should the breakfast look like?

Yes, it is very convenient, but it must be whey protein that is quick to digest and absorb. Your amino acids level in blood is low after a long night break and it is probable that catabolic processes have started in your organism (even if you used night protein). So, if you consume protein concentrate 20 to 30 minutes before breakfast, this level will go up and the anabolic process necessary for muscle protein production will start. With that you will prevent their destruction (breaking down). The pre-breakfast protein use should be followed by a filling carbohydrate breakfast (oats with yoghurt and honey, cereals, potentially Flapjack, etc.).


Is night protein important? What should I include it in my diet?

One of the main rules of bodybuilders’ diet is the frequency of protein intake – every three hours. Our organism cannot store amino acids and frequent protein consumption help us maintain continuous, solid amino acid level in blood that is crucial for creation and renewal of muscle mass (proteosynthesis).

Several hours long night break in protein supply results in lowered amino acid level in blood which threatens the production and regeneration of muscle mass during night time – optimal conditions for these anabolic processes. Given these facts, consuming these so-called “slow” proteins before bedtime (casein type proteins that are slow to digest and absorb) is very important. If we don’t have night proteins (MICELLAR CASEIN) at hand, it is possible to use curd as an „emergency“ substitute.

Bc. Veronika Pokorná, DiS.

Bc. Veronika Pokorná, DiS. 1.1.2021

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