It’s crazy how many times I’ll get asked, “So what protein powder do you use?” I’m a big guy and I’ve worked out for years. And truth be told, anyone who’s goal is to compete at a professional physique or bodybuilding level, likely does have a favorite protein powder, including me. My favorite is Optimum Nutrition's 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein. But, whenever someone asks me that question, I have a follow-up to throw right back at them. “Why do you care about my protein powder?
I’m not trying to be rude, but I do want to be clear—natural protein is where you should be getting most of the protein in your day. What I find is that people who want to bulk up go straight for those big buckets of protein shakes. But, the fact is, with a little food prep you can get better nutrition, results and as flavor from protein-rich meals as opposed to chugging down protein shakes all day.
The fact is that your foods will provide you not only protein, but a long list of vital nutrients to go along with the protein. Don’t get me wrong. Protein powder has its place. It is fast, convenient and a heck of a lot easier to bring to the gym than a roasted chicken. But, the important thing to remember, is that it is a supplement for what you miss in your regular diet—not a replacement. In addition, gram for gram, the powder can also workout your wallet more than foods.
When it comes to food-based protein you are looking at meat and vegetable. Meat proteins such as chicken, beef, pork and rabbit provide a ton of flavor, and as a complete protein can provide all the amino acids that your body doesn’t produce. Vegetable proteins such as tofu, beans, peanut butter and lentils are incomplete and do not have all of the amino acids your body needs. However, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, essential carbs and good fats that your body needs for digestion.
So, while you may need a little prep-work to focus on eating food-based protein as opposed to protein powders it’s well worth your time, and of course time equals results.
Think of it like this:
Your prep work while you make your meal is like a warm-up before you work out. Eating is the workout. And your protein powder is dessert.
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Tobias Young is an IFBB pro and top tier online fitness coach with over 19 years of fitness industry experience.