Protein supplements

WHY THEY MAKE THE LIST I don't know if it's too early to say "case closed" about the efficacy of pre- and/or post-workout protein drinks. But I lifted for about thirty years without them and then the past five or six years with them, and for me, there's no comparison. I get bigger and leaner when I use them, and I lose size and gain fat when I don't.

Skepticism abounds among nutrition researchers as to whether protein supplements increase muscle mass over periods of weeks or months, although it seems ac cepted that they increase protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown immediately after workouts. One study, cited in the book Nutrient Timing, by John Ivy and Robert Portman, showed an 8 percent increase in muscle mass and a 15 percent strength boost in twelve weeks in subjects who had a carb-protein shake immediately after lifting. Those who had the same shake two hours later flatlined—no gains in twelve weeks. (In case you're wondering, the carbohydrates in the shake help stimulate the hormone insulin, which shuttles nutrients into muscles.)

I don't know if that ends the argument or not. As I said in the previous chapter, one lecturer I heard at a conference said that milk should work just as well as any supplement. Since these protein drinks are made from milk proteins, that makes sense. But you'd have to drink a lot of milk (five cups) to get the forty grams of protein you'll find in a standard supplement, which you typically mix with about fifteen ounces of cold water.

BEST OF THE BEST I mentioned Meso-Tech above; Nitro-Tech, by the same company, is another good choice. Both use whey protein, the faster-acting and more potent milk protein. Some supplements use a mix of whey and casein, which is a slower-to-digest milk protein. These include Biotest's Grow!, Met-Rx, and EAS's Myoplex.

I don't know if there's a magic ratio of carbs to protein. I've read that three or four grams of carbohydrate to every gram of protein is best for pre- and post-workout shakes. My guess is that it matters less than the fact that the concoction contains some of each.

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