Protein Supplements – Who, What, When, Why, How?

Firstly what IS protein and how does the body use it?

Protein forms the major solid matter of our muscles (and everything else for that matter), and ‘Amino Acids’ are its building blocks.

There are 22 Amino’s in total, 8 of which are essential to the body. When Amino Acids are released into the body through digestive chains, protein synthesis (muscle growth) occurs.

Dairy, egg and flesh foods are the only ‘complete’ sources of protein. You should always attempt to derive your protein from natural food sources,


Taking a protein supplement will cause protein synthesis to occur much FASTER than from natural foods. Normally this would not mater so much, but is IDEAL after a workout where there is a window of 30 minutes you have to get nutrients into the body to help it recover, before the body starts repairing itself!

When you train with any form or resistance exercises, you cause micro tears in muscles which obviously repair, if they are NOT given any assistance (nutrients), they will basically repair back to their natural state (the same size they were BEFORE you worked out). HOWEVER, if these small tears are then ‘filled up’ with the right stuff, they repair, to an increased size. They get BIGGER!

Protein Supplements - FAQ

So it’s decided:

Most of the time you need to get your body’s protein requirements from natural foods. BUT there will be times when you need some fast acting amino acid release – A supplement.

Collectively, dairy based protein is more anabolic than plant protein, and there are two main sources of dairy protein:

Whey protein (FAST RELEASE of Amino Acids) + Casein protein (SLOW RELEASE of Amino Acids).

We have established you need a FAST release of Amino’s after working out (the 30 minute window), so for best results during the day Whey protein is the one to go for.

There are 3 types of Whey; Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysate.

To cut a long story short – Concentrate = Good, but with more fat. Isolate = Great, with the fat taken out + the most expensive. Hydrolysate = Good, the protein has been chemically pre-digested so when you take it, the impact is almost immediate, however the process used to pre-digest it is said to harm the Amino Acid quality.

I choose Isolate, I also recommend it.

Taken once in the morning (as directed on the tub) and immediately after working out will give you the best results. Mix with water, mostly because mixing with milk will constantly leave your house with no milk for breakfast, which is a pain in the ass to say the least!

We haven’t written off Casein protein just yet, it has its benefits!

Because of its slow releasing properties, Casein is best taken right before bed. Overnight, there will be a constant release of Amino Acids into your muscles, causing further protein synthesis while you sleep! This is a HIGHLY effective way to increase your muscle mass.

So for best results, combine Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Casein Protein with a well balanced diet and training schedule and the results will be there for everyone to see when you get your kit off at the beach.

**Note: I am NOT a qualified nutritionist and the views expressed in this article are my own, formed by what I have studied and the results I have witnessed.

by Kris Cochrane

Kris is one of the fantastic TBC Gym personal trainers, and you can read more from him on his website