Do I Need A Protein Supplement To Build Muscle?
Q: I am 56, 5'10" and weigh 160, in good physical condition, lift 3 times a week but want to add more muscle. Will taking whey protein and amino acids help achieve this?
-Don, Las Vegas, Nevada
A: It depends on who you ask.
If you were to ask any supplement company, they would tell you without reservation that their protein supplement, amino acids, or other “latest greatest supplement guaranteed to put muscle on the skinniest guy” will work wonders. According to them, you’ll gain pounds of muscle, melt pounds of fat, and be stronger overnight.
Truth be told, though, the best muscle-building substance that you can put into your body is... Wait for it… FOOD!
Yes, food. The food that you eat provides you with all of the building blocks, energy resources, and nutrients that your body needs to recover and reconstruct your muscles into larger, stronger versions of their previous selves. Just try to include some kind of protein in every meal, and you should get enough nutrients to gain some muscle.
Because if you think about it, protein supplements, such as whey powder, are merely food. Their real benefit is that they concentrate the nutrients that are key in building muscles.
So taking that into consideration, if you just can’t seem to eat enough food or protein throughout the day, you might want to consider a good protein supplement. It’ll help you reach the nutrient surplus that’s required to pack on some extra muscle. Is it magic? No, it’s just food, and some guys find it easier to slam a protein shake for extra protein rather than taking the time to cook and eat a slab of dead animal.
As for taking isolated amino acids though, the constituents of protein, you’re probably wasting your money. They’re usually not necessary for most guys because a balanced diet with enough protein and calories usually fulfills all of our amino acid needs. The only people that really need to supplement amino acids (often called BCAAs) are professional athletes. So, unless you’re a pro athlete, Don, save your money.