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: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/108/2/405/5042716
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: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/6/376
Other references for this video:
Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology (12ed)
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