Does Protein Powder Work? (Spoiler: YES, but there’s a catch)

Does Protein Powder Work? (Spoiler: YES, but there’s a catch)

Protein powders (aka protein shakes) are commonly believed to help build muscle. A recent review published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at whether protein supplementation led to improvement in muscle mass and strength.

Researchers found that protein supplementation did have a positive effect on strength, muscle size and fat-free mass (aka lean body mass). Improvement in strength was measured using 1-rep max strength. The group that received protein supplementation had an additional benefit of 9% (2.49kg) in their 1 Rep Max when compared to those who didn’t consume a protein supplement. Also, the protein group had a 1.4kg gain in fat free mass compared to the control group which had a 1.1kg increase.

For professional athletes, every bit of strength counts. This study recommends an upper limit of 2.2g/kg/day of protein intake for serious athletes. But for the rest of us, protein shakes do help a bit, but not as much as getting to the gym and actually doing the work.

Average protein intake in the general population:

Many people in high income countries easily exceed the RDA of protein intake without even trying. In the following study from the US, Figure 1C and Table 1 show that the average American adult is consuming somewhere between 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight, with some variation depending on age group and gender:

0:00 Intro
0:34 How our bodies build muscle

0:58 Muscle Hypertrophy
1:57 Protein powder supplementation in addition to diet
3:24 Signficance of protein supplementation

Full Article from British Journal of Sports Medicine:

Other references for this video:
Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology (12ed)

#protein #fitness #docunlock

Full transcript:

Video credits:

Certain illustrations adapted from and (pikisuperstar / brgfx / iconicbestiary / Freepik)

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  1. A lot of people are confusing what he is saying as INCREASING your 1 REP MAX by 9% if you take protein, but that is NOT WHAT IS BEING SAID. The study is showing an additional 9% IMPROVEMENT ON GAINS.

    Some math:
    1 Rep Max – 100kg

    Gain 1 Rep Max without protein supplementation- 10kg
    Gain 1 Rep Max without protein supplementation (Percent) -10%
    New 1 Rep Max without protein supplementation – 110kg

    The additional 9% is ON THE GAIN:

    Theoretical Gain with protein supplementation – (9% of 10kg + 10kg) = 10.9kg
    Theoretical Gain 1 Rep Max with protein supplementation (Percent) – 10.9%
    Theoretical New 1 Rep Max with protein supplementation – 110.9kg

    In this case, protein supplementation would be expected to cause ONLY a 0.9% INCREASE IN 1 REP MAX.

  2. Protein is protein. You can drink only protein shakes and eat sensibly and keep building muscles. I'm simplifying it, but protein is protein. Talking to powerbuilder winners locally and bodybuilder winners locally, they seem to agree you need double your bodyweight in proteins. BTW i am talking about a diet where you are in a huge protein deficit.

  3. I heard a lot that it is necessary to minimize carbs n sugar intake and maximize protein intake to gain weight/muscles. Suggestion to minimize carbs n sugar is for those who wish to reduce weight or for a skinny guy as well? Please explain why a skinny person should avoid carbs n sugar, if he wants to gain mass.

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