We understand that the world of protein and supplements can be confusing. It’s really important to us to help you navigate through the jargon and find the information that’s helpful for you and your health and wellbeing goals. Below you’ll find a list of frequently asked questions that we’ve come across by talking to you at events and across social media. If your question isn’t covered below, feel free to email us.
What is protein?
Protein is a ‘macronutrient’ found in foods such as meat, dairy, nuts and beans. Macronutrients are the three substances your body needs for growth; in addition to protein there's also carbohydrates and fats.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which play a key role in the development of healthy skin, hair, nails and muscles. Amino acids build and repair cells and are crucial in supporting your immune system, as well as helping to regulate your blood pressure.
Why should I take protein?
When you work out, you create tears in your muscles which then need to repair themselves. Amino acids will repair these tears, and protein supplements are an easy way to get these amino acids into your system.
Of course, you can get your protein from food, but it takes more time for your body to break down the protein in solid food. Add to this the fact that most people fit exercising around busy lifestyles - you can’t always nip home after a workout and cook yourself some chicken. Protein from a shake can reach your muscles in about 30 minutes.
Can I get the same results by just eating a steak?
Whole foods will often contain higher levels of protein than a shake, but in most cases will also have a higher fat content. A shake in comparison, will be lower in fat, which is why they're often used to promote weight-loss.
What can I mix my protein shake with?
In essence, you can be as inventive as you like, just keep in mind some simple info: If you mix your protein powder with water, it will reach your muscles much quicker and thus start repairing sooner. If you mix your protein with milk, it will become slow releasing due to the mix of curds and whey in the milk (curds are responsible for this slow release). In short, it'll take longer to digest and longer to get to your muscles.
So by all means, try milk, almond milk, coconut milk, adding it to a smoothie, fruits, veggies – whatever works for you. But water gets the protein where it's needed, faster.
Can I have more than one protein shake a day?
How many scoops of protein you have in a day all depends on you, your diet and how much you exercise. If you have a protein heavy diet and you're not undertaking much exercise, you do not need to add lots of shakes to your daily routine. If you are having a heavy workout in the morning and have a shake before your commute, then have another mid-afternoon with some fruit or veg, all you're doing is giving your body the tools it needs to repair. Everyone is different and you should listen to your body, taking into account your dietary needs.
When is the best time to have your protein shake?
Protein helps build and repair muscle. As with any tissue in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. For muscle to recover, the body needs to make more muscle protein than it's breaking down. Having a shake after any exercise will deliver amino acids to your muscles which helps build and repair them.
Really, there are no rules though - it's what works best for you. If you know you're going to get hungry in the afternoon, add some protein to a fruit or veg based shake to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Can you drink protein shakes as meal replacements?
Protein shakes should supplement a balanced diet. However, we understand that if you're in a rush, sometimes you don’t have time for a full meal. In this instance, a protein shake with some fruit and almond milk will be much more beneficial than grabbing a croissant on the way to work.
Supplements are good for fast acting absorption and convenience, but you should rely on a good diet first and foremost and never replace food entirely with shakes.
Do you need to up your protein intake if you are trying to lose weight?
A high protein diet can help with weight loss in so far as it can boost your metabolic rate (calories out) and reduce your appetite (calories in). Higher protein diets have been shown to boost metabolism compared to lower protein diets. A great product for this is our Lean Protein which contains natural Matcha - which boosts your metabolic rate.
What percentage of your diet should you aim to make protein?
It depends on your lifestyle, age, muscle mass, how much exercise you do and what your fitness goals are, but a general rule would be between 10 – 35%. Estimates are that you need between 0.8g and 1.7g of protein a day, per kg of body weight.
Is there such a thing as having too much protein?
A balanced diet is always the best. Proteins with carbs (vegetables or grain) and ‘healthy’ fats are key. If you keep it balanced, you won’t have any problems with too much protein. There's no set limit to how much protein your body can process, as everyone is different. However, your body doesn’t store protein like it does carbohydrates and fats. Once your body has used what it needs, it will just get rid of the waste protein.
How do I know which type of protein is best for me?
Do your homework. Think about your exercise routine, your goals and how to look after your body. If you have issues with lactose intolerance or follow a vegan diet, then Vegan Protein is going to be for you. If you need extra recovery, Slow Release Protein before bed might be a good idea. If you’re on the go, Whey Protein will give quick delivery of protein to your muscles.
What’s the difference between Whey, Soy, Egg, Rice and Casein/Slow Release Protein powders?
Whey: Is fast acting, easily absorbed and a dairy based protein.
Casein/Slow Release: Is slow releasing protein made from the curds in milk. It will feed your muscles over time (perfect for before bed).
Soy: Is generally very low in or free of fat, cholesterol, and lactose.
Egg: Some consider egg protein to have the highest biological values of any protein – meaning your body absorbs and uses the protein you ingest more efficiently.
Rice: Is allergen friendly, low fat and low calorie but it takes longer to digest
Is there value in proteins other than Whey?
Yes – you just need to find the one that suits your lifestyle and diet best, e.g. for Vegans, a non-dairy protein (no whey, casein or egg) will be best. All protein's will supplement your protein intake – however they all provide different protein yields and amino acid profiles as well as variations on fat and carb content. Have a look at which you think best fits your situation before impulse buying.
Are there any health benefits to a non-vegan taking Vegan Protein?
We work hard to ensure that our Whey and Vegan Proteins are both great additions to a balanced diet. With our Vegan Protein, we use a blend of whole pea and hemp sources to ensure an amino profile similar to Whey with high levels of essential amino acids.
None of our protein powders contain artificial sweeteners, flavourings or fillers, so both will quickly and easily deliver essential amino acids to your muscles, preventing fatigue and speeding up recovery and growth. However, Vegan Protein is particularly good for people that are lactose intolerant or suffer from allergies, as it is hypoallergenic. If you feel that your protein is affecting your digestion or causing any issues at all, Vegan could be a great alternative.
What is Slow Release protein?
Slow Release protein does exactly what it says on the pack. It releases slowly to feed your muscles over time, which is why its perfect for before bed to help your muscles recover while your sleeping. It’s also good if you know you’re going to have a long break between meals and want something to keep you feeling full.
Is it common for Slow Release protein to cause stomach upsets?
Because Slow Release Protein is a dairy based protein, you should avoid it if you have an intolerance to lactose. It forms a gel in your stomach which is broken down over time and some people find this gel hard to digest which can cause an upset stomach. If you have experienced this in the past, you should probably steer clear and stick to Whey Protein or a Vegan Protein.
What is Creatine?
Creatine increases the body's ability to quickly produce energy. The idea is that with more energy, you can train a little harder, faster or heavier. Creatine would be a consideration if you're doing heavy weights with low reps.
What are BCAAs and do I need to add them to my protein shake?
BCAAs are Branch Chain Amino Acids and are made from three essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. In short, amino acids are molecules that ‘fold’ to create protein, so adding them to your shake tops up the amino levels that are already present in your protein powder. Benefits include promoting muscle mass, recovery and assisting your immune system. BCAAs are good for athletes who are undertaking intense training, or those people who are working out to a high level of intensity on a regular basis.
With so many brands, what are key things to look out for when deciding on a protein powder?
Check the ingredients list - if there is a long list of ingredients that you don’t understand, the chances are, the protein in question is full of fillers and sugars. If you're a vegan, look out for proteins that include lysine – an essential amino acid you won’t be getting in your diet.
Generally, proteins with flavours that sound unhealthy (e.g. cookie dough, cookies and cream, treacle pudding etc) will more than likely have unnatural flavourings and thus added chemicals.
Why is it better to have a clean product?
As with anything, the better you fuel your body, the better it will work. Just like chosing a plate of vegetables over a burger is better for your body, clean protein is better than one full of sugars and fillers. With clean proteins you won’t get that jittery feeling after drinking, nor should it cause a spike in your energy and then a crash.
If you heat protein does it alter?
The only thing that changes when you heat protein is it’s structure, so it may become slightly less soluble. The protein itself is generally not affected in regards to its yield. Adding it to porridge or making cookies won’t have any adverse effects.
Do protein shakes suppress your appetite?
Protein shakes will keep you feeling fuller for longer and products like casein, which are slow digesting, will keep hunger at bay. However, they are not appetite suppressants.
Do protein shakes actually work if you’re maintaining a balanced diet?
Yes! If your goal is a high protein diet and you're looking to build muscle (not in the body building sense), and repair after exercise, then protein supplements will work in helping you achieve those goals.
Does price really determine how good a product is?
Generally, the better the ingredients used to make a product, the more expensive the product is to produce, and thus the price of the product is usually higher. There are plenty of instances where companies may put a high price tag on a cheap product though, so make sure you do a little homework and check out the ingredients before committing to buying a product that you feel concerned about.
Is it true you should only take protein if you are doing weights?
You can take protein if you're doing any form of exercise because it helps your muscles recover. Protein alone doesn’t make your muscles big, it just helps your body prepare or recover from the exercise you undertake.
I only do two exercise classes a week; do I need a protein supplement?
Protein will help your muscles to recover, whether you’re working out six days a week or if you’re a casual class goer – the results are the same. If you’re a casual exerciser, you probably don’t need to the thinking about Creatine or BCAAs, but protein will be useful for your recovery.
What are supplements substitutes for?
Supplements are not supposed to be substitutes, they are supposed to be an addition to your daily diet. This could be because you want to ensure you're reaching your RDA (multivitamins) or because you want to help your body do its job (protein for muscle repair). Don’t take them for the sake of taking them, think about what your body needs that you may not be getting through your diet.
If I take supplements, will I go over my RDA and have too much?
Supplements should be exactly that, they should supplement your diet. There are RDAs on a lot of vitamins and minerals, which you can research. Generally though, think balance - if you are not eating an excessive amount of any one thing, you're probably okay.
Can supplements be addictive?
Psychologically, a lot of things can be addictive. There is nothing in supplements that creates an addiction in regards to your body craving them. However if you're in the mind-set that supplements perform a certain way and you cannot train without them, then potentially – yes. If you have an addictive personality and have found yourself obsessing over similar things in the past, you may want to re-evaluate whether you need to be taking supplements and look out for trigger behaviours.
Are there any health implications after long-term use?
For the average joe with a balanced diet who is taking a protein supplement once a day, there's very little cause for concern. There's no definitive study that shows a high-protein diet causes any long-term health issues. High protein diets are often linked to high fat diets and it’s this high level of fat intake that can cause health issues.
What happens if I suddenly stop taking a protein supplement?
If you're weight training and building muscle, you'll need to keep your protein and calorie intake up through diet to ensure you don’t lose muscle. If you're just a casual exerciser then you shouldn't see any major issues, it will just take your body longer to recover from exercise and build lean muscle.
Can you take protein and supplements when you are pregnant?
Plenty of women do still take protein and other supplements when pregnant, however, you should consult with your GP before making a decision.
Are supplements good for diabetics?
If you're diabetic, you should always consult your GP before you consider taking any supplements. Diabetes should be controlled by a healthy lifestyle, plus medication if necessary – supplements are not a substitute for those.