If a little protein in your diet can make you strong, then surely adding even more protein through supplements can make you fit enough to step into the ring with ghost of Sugar Ray Robinson, right? You would think so, but unfortunately that is not necessarily true. The fact of biology is that all the cells in your muscles, tendons and ligaments-those parts of the body that work together to give one rippling muscles and a six-pack-depend on protein for daily maintenance.
In addition, the hemoglobin that carries much needed oxygen through the bloodstream is itself a protein. Protein is vital, no question. And that is why there are so many advertisements that protein shakes, protein powders, protein bars. If protein can be added to something, it exists: cookies, tablets, capsules. The list goes on. But do any of these things actually work? Are they necessary?
Back in the good old days before steroid shots could make a guy who’d never hit more than 25 roundtrippers in his entire career suddenly average 50 homers a year, athletes looked to good old-fashioned things like streak and eggs for protein.
What team doctors knew then hasn’t changed. Protein is a necessity for both adding more muscle tissue as well as maintaining the musculature God gave you. That isn’t to mention the fact that protein is necessary to all those other billions of cells inside your body that have little to do with hitting a baseball out of the park or knocking a 225 Adonis flat on the canvas.
Protein alone cannot do the job of stimulating the growth of muscle tissue. In fact, the human body is so efficiently designed that when excess amounts of protein enter into the mix, it is recognized for what it is and almost immediately gets transformed into fuel.
The result is that the protein is burned up to provide energy. If the protein is not needed for energy, it takes the alternate route: it converts to fat. In other words, ingesting more and more excess protein may not only NOT help to build muscle, it may actually contribute to gaining more fat.
Protein supplements typically come with other little goodies as well: isolated amino acids, minerals, vitamins, ginseng…even bee pollen. The usual sources for the protein itself are things such as egg whites, gelatin, soy, and whey.
Generally, these protein supplements arrive with anything from a dozen to two dozen grams of protein in each dose. That is roughly equivalent to the amount of protein found in a three ounce serving of chicken. When the protein supplement is being delivered in tablet or wafer form it is quite possible that the actual amount of protein you are getting can be just a few grams.
The reason that the amino acids are isolated is based on the claim that the body absorbs it better than whole protein. In fact, any normally healthy person can quite easily absorb amino acids from whole protein. The problem is actually on the side of these supplements because your body depends on a balanced mixture of amino acids to efficiently synthesize protein.
Isolation of amino acids in excessive amounts can actually interfere with the body’s ability to absorb, leading to a significant breakdown in the synthesizing of protein. In other words, once again protein supplements prove to be capable of accomplishing exactly the opposite of their claims.