The biggest advantage of protein supplements when people ask me is that not that they can build more muscle than chicken or egg whites or any other whole food protein, the biggest advantage is convenience. It is easier to drink a protein shake than it is to buy, prepare, cook and eat poultry, fish or egg whites. Consuming small, frequent meals is the optimal way to eat, regardless of whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain. To keep your body constantly in positive nitrogen balance, you must consume a complete protein every three hours I advise my clients. For many people, wanting to build lean muscle eating this often is nearly impossible. That’s when a high quality protein supplement is the most helpful.Another acknowledged benefit of whey protein is its fast absorption rate. Although there isn’t any evidence that protein supplements digest more efficiently than whole foods (as is often claimed), they are definitely digested faster.
This is most important after a hard training session when the rates of protein synthesis and glycogen re-synthesis are increased. This is the reason it is often recommended that a liquid meal containing protein and a high glycemic carbohydrate be consumed immediately post-workout and that whey is the ideal protein for this purpose.
Even in considering post-workout nutrition, there is still little proof that a liquid protein-carb complex will actually produce better muscular growth than whole foods, as long as complete whole food protein foods and complex carbohydrates are consumed immediately after the training session and every three waking hours for a period of 24 hours thereafter
Aside from convenience, the truth about protein supplements is that they offer few advantages over protein foods. There is no scientific evidence that you can’t meet all of your protein needs for muscle growth through food. As long as you eat every three or four hours and you eat a complete protein such as eggs, lean meat or low fat dairy products with every meal, it is not necessary to consume any protein supplements to get outstanding results. Whey protein does have some interesting and useful properties and supplementing with a couple scoops each day is not a bad idea, especially if you are on a low calorie diet for fat loss or when you’re using a post workout shake instead of a meal. Aside from that, remember the main focus is on real food and don’t believe all the hype.