Protein for a bodybuilder, is like pizza for the Ninja Turtles. Without protein, we would not be able to build a sufficient enough amount of muscle to make any noticeable gains, and from a bodybuilding perspective, that is obviously a very big problem. Protein is vital for muscle growth, repair, and maintenance, and this is one of the key reasons why bodybuilders consume such vastly high amounts of this very important macronutrient. Typically a bodybuilder will consume anything from 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, to 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, and getting this much protein in whole food form alone, is obviously very difficult. The bigger the person the more protein they will consume, and obviously it would be very hard, and very expensive, to focus solely on whole foods.
The importance of protein supplements
Thankfully we have protein powder supplements which are designed to give us a quick and easy source of protein in liquid form, rather than having to sit down and eat piles of meat, seafood, nuts, seeds, and so on. Protein powders are great because you simply mix the powder with milk or water, and hey presto, you have a delicious beverage providing, on average, between 20g and 30g of protein per serving. Two or three shakes per day can put you well on your way to meeting your protein macro targets, but there is a catch. You need to ensure that the protein you are using, is of the finest quality you can find. Poor quality protein is simply not worth bothering with, which is why we’ll now be sharing a few warning signs to look out for, which could indicate that your protein is of poor quality.
Storing and caring for protein supplements
Before we look at tell-tale signs that your protein is an inferior product, we’ll first look at how you can store and care for your protein. Contrary to popular belief, protein powders, like all things, can turn bad overtime. Typically most protein supplements, from the time they are developed will have an initial shelf life of at least 18 months. That means that, once you purchase the product, you should be set for well over a year. After this time period is over however, the protein can lose its potency and it can turn bad. What’s more, if you don’t care for your protein properly, or if you store it incorrectly, it can also turn bad much quicker. Ideally you should keep your protein stored in the container it came in, providing it is still air tight. If it isn’t, I.E if it came in a bag which is now ripped, transfer it into an airtight container. The more oxygen you can keep out, the better, as oxygen causes products to turn bad through a process known as oxidation. This is the same process that turns meat bad in your fridge once the vacuum seal on the packaging has been ripped, and it is the same process that will cause your protein to turn bad, albeit far slower than with whole foods. You should also keep your protein out of direct sunlight, and well away from any moisture. Even the slightest hint of moisture can cause clumping and can speed up the oxidation process, so make sure the container you store it in is airtight, is kept somewhere dark like a cupboard, and that it is completely dry, and away from any moisture. You also need to keep it somewhere cool, as heat can cause it to turn bad quicker. A cupboard, away from heat sources such as cookers or radiators, is perfect.
Signs that your protein is poor quality
Now that you know where to and how to store your protein supplements to keep them fresh, we’ll now help you out by looking at a few warning signs to look for, which could point to the fact that your protein sucks.
The price is too good to be true
We know that protein is expensive, and the better the protein, the more expensive it is. This is obviously because you get what you pay for in this world, and better quality ingredients cost more to use, so the manufacturers have to sell these products for higher amounts in order to make a healthy profit. We also know that with some proteins, you simply pay for the brand as well-known brands charge more because they are established. With that being said, it is always worth while looking online for great protein deals. Once you look at several brands, you will get a rough idea of say, the average price per KG, and depending on whom you go with, you may even save a few bucks if you find a slightly cheaper protein. If however, you find a protein that is ridiculously cheap, so much so in fact, that it looks too good to be true, be careful, because it probably is too good to be true. If a relatively unknown company is selling protein that is far, far cheaper per serving than all of the other protein powders out there, you have to ask yourself why that is. The normal answer is usually the fact that their “protein” powders don’t actually contain as much protein as they state, and instead they may use cheap filler proteins, or simply bulk the powder out with cheaper ingredients. Protein spiking is a very real problem in the supplement industry, as there have been companies out there that add cheap amino acids to their proteins, so that they can make their existing protein stretch further. What’s more, this isn’t technically illegal as they are exploiting a loophole in the system. If you come across a super-cheap protein online that is fairly unknown, and is much cheaper than everybody else, the best advice here would be to keep looking.
The protein doesn’t mix very well
Another sign that your protein is of a poor quality is the fact that it doesn’t mix very well. We all know that mixing protein in a glass with a fork and some liquid is likely to leave lumps and clumps. A good quality protein in a shaker cup with some liquid however, should mix nice and smooth. If it doesn’t, and if your protein is lumpy and clumpy, no matter how aggressively you shake it, it could be because it contains poor quality ingredients. If you use a blender to mix your proteins you shouldn’t be able to tell anyways, so the best advice here would be to perform an initial mixing test in a shaker cup and to see how well the powder mixes. When you drink a protein shake, you want it to be smooth and creamy. The last thing you want when you’re feeling queasy after a brutal leg session, is to try to chug down a lumpy protein shake that you have to virtually chew to get down. If your protein doesn’t mix very well, this should set alarm bells ringing.
You can’t find any info about the brand
Now, we know that new supplement companies are popping up everywhere, and some go on to become fairly successful. Naturally we all have to begin somewhere, so just because a company is new, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their protein is bad. However, when you buy protein from an unknown brand, it is always best to do a little research beforehand and to see what info you can find. Ideally you want to know as much info about the brand as possible, plus you’ll want reviews from previous customers. If you see a protein from an unknown brand, and you can’t find any info out about them online, this is another warning sign. You want to be buying protein from a legitimate supplement company, not from somebody’s basement on the other side of the world, who has simply come up with a “brand name” and is selling you, who knows what.
The protein upsets your stomach
When you use protein, you’re using it because you want to improve your health and your physique. Good quality protein nourishes your muscles and your cells, and gives your body exactly what it needs. You often find that good quality protein is also enriched with vitamins and minerals, that help to boost your health further. Needless to say, if you’re nourishing your body and giving it what it needs, it will thank you for it and you will look and feel great. If however, you find that you suffer from an upset stomach shortly after drinking a protein shake, there is something, or some things, in there that your body does not like, nor need. We won’t go into details here, but if you find that your stomach feels like a Jacuzzi, and you can never stray too far away from a toilet after drinking a protein shake, it contains poor quality ingredients that are doing you more harm than good. There could be a very slight chance that you suffer from an intolerance that you aren’t aware of, I.E lactose, but if you’re certain it’s not this, well then, bro, or brosephine, your protein sucks.