Is Your Protein Doing Anything?

After reading this, do not be upset, but the protein you are taking is probably doing nothing more than checking the box on your daily macro intake.

The supplement industry has become such a lucrative business over the last 20 years with the fitness industry’s growth. Anyone who was into fitness 10+ years ago knows how excellent supplements were. From fat-burning supplements to post-workout supplements, we use to have the best products available. Since then, more regulations have been placed on the industry, so these companies’ profit margins have also been affected. Like any other business, they have learned to cut costs in different places, and protein powders and ready-to-drink (RTD) proteins have taken an enormous hit.

We take protein powders or RTDs post-workout because of the branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) that they contain. Our body uses these to repair the damage that we caused our muscles during our exercise. Of all the BCAA’s, there is one amino acid that is more important to building muscle than all the others, and that is Leucine.

As regulations on supplements started, this amino acid has begun to be cut more and more from protein powders and RTDs. More and more companies are sourcing their protein from cheaper sources and losing a lot of its potency. Their only goal is to trick people into thinking that the protein is good because of its grams.

For most people, we need just over 3 grams of Leucine for every protein intake, including our post-workout shakes. (the more muscle mass you have or bigger you are, the more Leucine you need.) If you took the purest protein source, one that has not lost any of its potency, in 25 grams of protein, it would contain 2.5g of Leucine. So in most cases, the purest forms of protein do not have enough Leucine to support muscle growth in the everyday person. So imagine how little Leucine you are receiving from lower-grade protein powders and RTDs.

My suggestion is to check the labels of all your protein supplements. Look to see if they list the amount of BCAA’s on their label. Most likely, if they do not, you’re looking at a supplement to your macros and not your recovery. Sometimes protein powders and RTDs will have a proprietary blend of BCAA’s. This means they can list the number of grams it contains for all BCAA’s but avoid listing how much of each. Most likely, they cut corners here as well, but better than not listing at all. The best protein powders will detail precisely how much each they have. If no additional Leucine is added, you’ll have 2.5g of Leucine for every 25g of protein on the label. This means you will need to supplement with additional Leucine, which is not a big deal; it is a cheap supplement that you can buy on amazon. Depending on how much protein you eat with each meal, you may need additional Leucine supplementation with every meal.

Do your research, buy quality products, and be price-conscious, but buy products that help you meet your goals.

I hope this helped!