I write articles that answer the most common questions I get, and I get a lot of protein questions, so let me answer them for you here. I will answer the following common questions I get in the article below =
*How much protein do I NEED? I’ve read that your body only needs 1 gram per pound, so isn’t the amount of protein on the fat shredder diet too much?
*Isn’t too much protein hard on your body?
*Which kind of protein should I get? Whey? Soy? Casein?
*Is one brand better than another? How can I know which brand to get?
*When should I take it? Before workout? After workout? Morning? Evening?
*How much should I take? 1 serving per day? 2? 3?
So many protein questions are out there, and how do we get an effective plan of attack to make the most of our protein supplementation?
Here’s my abbreviated review of who, what, when, where, and how about protein!
First, there are MANY nutrition plans out there. And there are many rules of thumb about how much protein we should take in. Many of you have seen the “1 gram per pound of body weight” rule of thumb or the “30 grams per meal” rule of thumb. Those are just rules of thumb. It doesn’t mean that taking more than that per body weight, or more than 30g per meal, is a waste or will hurt you. Protein is just an energy source, like carbs and fats. Each energy source has different properties. The nice thing about protein is that of the 3 energy sources (proteins, carbs, and fats), protein is the LEAST likely to convert to body fat. Thus, on a diet designed to shed body fat quickly, proteins should be a major component. Your body can use protein for fuel and for muscle building, but won’t likely store it as fat if it doesn’t immediately use it.
Another nice thing about protein is that it digests slowly. It gives your body a slow, steady source of energy and keeps you feeling satisfied and full much longer than carbs. This is very handy when running a calorie deficit and trying to lose weight. You won’t feel the intense hunger pangs.
These are a couple of the reasons why the P90X nutrition plan uses 50% protein on the fat shredder diet. It will allow your muscles plenty of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) so that you preserve muscle mass while losing weight. Plus, it will give you an energy source that is unlikely to convert to fat. That’s why the fat shredder diet works so well. Is it more protein than you “need”? Sure it is! You don’t “need” that much protein. But it helps you reach your goals faster to shift your diet to high protein for a period of time when cutting body fat.
Now, another question as a follow up to that is about the risks of a high protein diet. It is true that consuming high quantities of protein for a long period of time can put stress on the kidneys, which have to process the protein. This is important, and you need to keep that in mind. Doing a fat shredder diet for a full 90 days isn’t a problem, but if you have LOTS of weight to lose and need to be on a fat shredder diet for months and months and months, it is very wise to get regular doctor checkups to monitor your blood work and organ function. We are doing this to get fit and healthy, and the last thing we want is to harm ourselves by staying on a certain diet too long. So if you are concerned, or if you have been on a fat shredder diet for more than 6 months, GET CHECKED out — if nothing else just for the peace of mind that your body is still functioning smoothly.
So, with those basics about protein and why it’s high in the fat shredder diet, let’s now look at some specifics about supplementing it:
I’ve tried several types and several brands. The first thing to determine when selecting a type or brand of protein is “What do I need this for?”. Usually, it’s because you need protein supplementation to hit your target percentages for protein (50% on fat shredder, 40% on balanced, 30% on endurance maximizer). If you can eat enough protein in your diet without protein powder, then you may not need to buy any protein supplements! But this is rare, as most of us don’t get enough from lean meats, etc. on a daily basis.
So, from tracking your diet, you’ll determine how much protein you need in your diet from protein powder per day to hit your percentages. For me, this is typically about 80-100g (in addition to what I get from my diet). Run your own numbers to determine that. It’s very difficult for me to answer someone who asks “How many protein shakes should I take per day?” because like I said above, it depends! You may need none. You may need 4. Run the numbers and be sure you hit your target numbers and percentages for the phase of the nutrition plan you are on.
Next, assuming you’ve decided you need protein powder in your daily routine, which one should you get? Some are cheap, some are expensive, and there are lots in between. I’ve tried cheap (like EAS whey from Sam’s Club), and I’ve tried above average cost (Wheybolic Extreme 60), and I’ve tried several in between (Muscle Infusion, O.N. Gold Standard, etc.). I haven’t tried some of the high end ones because I’m happy enough with what I’ve used so far. The key thing to look at is the nutritional profile. You want maximum protein, minimal fat, and minimal carbs. I’m currently using Dymatize Iso-100 because it is reasonably priced and has a great % of protein per serving (24g of protein in a 106 calorie serving).
And just because one type of protein may have more grams of protein in a serving doesn’t mean it’s better. You have to look at the size of the serving and the total calories of the serving. Do the math and figure out which protein has the best ratio of protein calories to total calories. For instance, Wheybolic Extreme 60 has 20g of protein in a 93 calorie scoop (80 of the 93 calories are protein = 86% protein). This is better than ON Gold, which has 24g of protein in a 130 calorie serving (96 of the 130 calories are protein = 74% protein).
It’s also nice to have the essential amino acids in high quantities (some have more than others). I’ve found that a good “value” is O.N. Gold Standard — it’s not the cheapest, but it’s not the most expensive either, and it’s got solid nutritional information. I used it a lot for the first several months.
Another consideration you have to make is whether or not you want to go with whey as your protein powder. Casein protein is great in the evenings because it is slower to digest and stays in your system longer. This is perfect for overnight use by your muscles. I tried some, but got a horrible tasting version and had to toss it out! I never resumed my search, and I just use whey in the evening LOL! If you’ve found a casein protein that you like to use in the evening, perfect!
I haven’t used soy protein powder myself (there are various debates about estrogen levels in men from too much soy protein, so I figured why risk it). Soy is a good protein though. My wife has used it and likes it. You might want to consider soy protein if you are allergic to whey (although even those with lactose allergies often do fine with whey because it is isolated from the milk and all lactose is “supposedly” removed). But if you have milk allergies, check first before buying a whole tub!
There are also vegan plant based protein powders available. I’ve used the Sun Warrior “Warrior Blend”. It’s a great protein (a bit grainy texture, as all plant based proteins are, but high quality).
And finally, once you’ve figured out how much protein you need, which type and brand you are going to use, and you’ve added it to your diet, the final question is when should you use it to best fit around your workout times?
It’s good to have protein in your system before working out. This may require you to use one of your shakes before a workout (45min to 1 hour before). But if you already have regular food on board from a meal, then you won’t need it then. It’s also good to get protein in your system within an hour after your workout. Again, this is a great time for a shake, and I’d recommend using it then for sure (I prefer a shake to food just because the balance of amino acids will be better in your protein powder than in a piece of meat, for instance). Post workout is probably the most critical time to consume protein powder because your body is in an anabolic state and ready to repair and grow muscle. And then you’ll also want to be sure you have protein in your system in the evening so your muscles have the fuel they need to recover and grow overnight. This is also very important. I like to take a scoop of whey protein mixed in water between dinner and bedtime.
Other than those obvious times, it is also important that at every meal/snack you fuel your body with protein, so you may find that you like to use protein powder for a morning snack, or an afternoon snack, depending on what else you use for snacks. What you don’t want is a carb-only snack with no protein. Every one of the 5-6 times you eat during the day should have a nice protein source.
I hope this review didn’t confuse you more!! Ask if you have questions about your protein powder or how you are using it and I’ll do my best to answer!
I asked below about the Wheybolic or ON powders and would also like to add to that - what about the Pure Protein or Body Fortress brands of powders?
Which protein tastes better in Chocolate form: Wheybolic Extreme or O.N. 100% Whey? I have purchased Body Fortress, but the one I have is fairly high in calories for one scoop.
PJs Wheybolic would be my choice between all of those you listed. I have not used Pure Protein's whey.
Hey Coach Wayne, I'm at a crossroads, should I but Whey or Casein protein? I usually take my Protein Powder before my workouts (I mix it with my oatmeal), after my workout (with Shakeology) and during the day with a fruit. I take Whey but I've reading on Casein and I like the fact that it's slow digesting and prevents muscle breakdown. However, I've been taking Whey for years now and it's been good to me, they only problem is that since it's fast absorbing I get hungry quickly after I drink. What would you suggest?
coachjavyperez I would use whey for what you have described. That is what's best suited or during the day. If you want to get both and just use the tub of casein before bed, it would last a while.
Hey Coach Wayne,
I am about to finish up P90X and during that process I have been taken whey protein twice a day. I am going to be starting Insanity Asylum next and I was wonder since Insantiy is an HIT program should I continue to take the Whey Protein during my journey. Also I would like to know if there is such a thing of intaiking too much protein.
James, I think whey should be used to hit your protein budgets. If you need it to maintain the percentage of protein you've decided to hit (50,40,30, etc) then use it. 2 scoops a day is not bad. If you are under 250-300g (total protein) a day, I wouldn't see anything to worry about.
coach I'm on a recovery week, since I am not lifting heavy, should I still consume casein protein in the evenings?
gamboa007 It would still be fine to have your casein. Your body is still repairing and rebuilding.
pts K thanks coach. 1 last Question I'm at 180lbs right now and on the fat shredder 1500 calories, but when I work 12 hrs I have trouble getting through the work outs u think maybe its cause that ain't enough cal ? when i work 8 hrs 1500 is fine and i dnt boink out u think i should go up 100 to 200 more calories? I'm just trying not to fall back coach in already down 16lbs in 2 1/2 wreaks and I don't wanna loose that progress like other times I've done the work outs . Thanks coach
Victor 86 I would feel totally safe with you going to 1700 calories. That is still a strong deficit and you need energy for work!
Victor, you get what you pay for with whey. If you go cheap on whey there is often less protein and more carbs/fat.
Well I take the wheyabolic protein right after my work out to terfuel my muscles that's the on ur saying I should spread? I just wanna use that protein in the best way i can, just because that thing is expensive.
Victor, take 1.5 scoops post workout and use the other 1.5 later. You are taking 3 scoops to get 60g right? You may still use 60g in a day, but it will be at the best times.
Hey coach every time i start doing 8hrs at work I get on a diet and loose weight, but we only work 8 hrs for a month and than we start doing 12 hrs every day again. And I fall of the wagon. We beastly started doing 12 hrs again but I want to keep going. I start at 6am and get off at 6:30pm so when I get off I start working out I take 60g of protein around 8 right when I finish working out and than at 9 I take 25g of casein protein than I go to sleep right away. What I want to know is if that's to much protein for being night time or is that fine ? Does my body still use the protein as energy even though I'm sleeping or does it just store it? Thanks coach.
That is a lot of protein Victor purely because it's not all needed at that time. Your body will digest it, but your body has a threshold for what amount of protein starts protein synthesis. For most guys it is around 30-40g. Any more doesn't make your response larger (so why take more). I would break that whey out into earlier in the day and still take 30g or so and then the casein before bed.
Coach - I saw you mix protein powder with Shakeology. Isn't that too much protein for one serving? Someone told me before that your body can only absorb XX amount of protein per meal and if you overload the meal with protein it would just go to "waste". Is that true?
Janet, no your body can process virtually any amount of protein per serving. You actually need about 30-40g in a meal to illicit a protein synthesis response. If the protein goes beyond that, it won't go to waste. It is still used for energy and burned as fuel.
I was thinking about taking some whey protein after my workouts, but what is the difference between whey protein and whey protein isolate and which one is better between the two to buy and take?
James, whey isolate is an even purer form of whey. It is better than concentrate. It is make up of a higher percentage of protein and thus has less fat and carbs. It gets really close to pure protein. I would go with isolate or whey hydrolysate (very pure and predigested - very fast absorption).
Noe, you can do either. If you buy the meat raw, the nutritional info on the package is for that meat raw. Cooking only removes weight by cooking out water. So 8 oz of chicken raw becomes 6 oz cooked. Same piece, same protein, etc, just lighter. As a rule of thumb you can count on cooked meat retaining 75% of the raw weight.
Nope not lactose intolerant, no issues when having any dairy products. Will sun warrior give me the same results as whey isolate protein?
Dirk, Sun Warrior is a great protein powder. It is a complete protein and will give the same results. They have a brown rice or a blend protein. Not quite as tasty as whey, but super high quality.
Hey coach, I did stop whey for a day or two and the bloating and constipation went away, once I started back on whey, I had the same issues.Have you heard this from any of your other members? I did read online from multiple use of whey with the Same problems when using whey.
Dirk, are you lactose intolerant? Does other diary do this to you? You might want to look into a non diary protein source (Sun Warrior - vegan, egg proteins, beef even).
I've been consuming dymatize whey protein isolate on a daily basis, It's helping me build muscle. however every since I've started with the shake, I feel bloated and constipated. I consume close to 5 to 6 liters of water per day, however this does not seem to be helping. I consume one shakewith 1 scoop of whey after a p90x workout and then one during mid-afternoon. My fiber intake is good and I eat a lot of veggies. Not sure if I can keep this long term, am I doing something wrong here or is whey just not for me??
Dirk, I'm not sure man. Try going off for a week and see if the bloating leaves. If you are still bloated, the whey is not the issue.
you said in the article that you should take some protein an hour before your workout and protein after to refuel your muscles. does it really make a difference if you take it an hour before?
Jose, if you are taking it before, you want time for it to digest a bit. You can workout without taking anything. I do that in the AM.
is it okay if you take all your protein through protein shakes? like if you cant afford to buy 11 pounds of chicken every week can you just drink protein shakes all the time?
Jose, I wouldn't want to rely on any one source for protein. Diversity is good! For chicken, make sure you look into the large Family Packs and big freezer bags. You can find it pretty cheap if you watch. Then use your freezer to keep it for later. Tuna is another good, cost effective protein.
Do you have any facts about whey protein isolates vs. regular whey protein? From what I understand isolates are more processed and may not be recognized as well by the body, so I'm uncertain whether it is one I want to stick with over the long haul. (From your suggestion I've been using the Dym. Iso-100 for the first three weeks of Fat Shredder. Now I'm thinking about switching to an "organic"-like powder.) Thanks
Hey coach, are you just supposed to take your shake/protein after you workout or throughout the day? I've been thinking about buying shakeology but was wondering when and how often I should take it. Thanks!
Kashi, you can use protein shake both after a workout and during the day when you need more protein. People normally use Shakeology as a meal replacement. It is way more than just protein, its complete nutrition. I use mine for breakfast to make sure that I start the day with everything I need to operate at top performance.
Ok thanks coach! I already see major differences with this diet, it's amazing how strict nutrition affect progress so fast!
Hey coach I started my fat shredder diet this week and some of my percentages come out to 56+ percent protein..is this still ok considering protein is least likely to be converted to fat. Each day still comes out to about 1900 calories. Just wondering if that much protein is still ok for the fat shredder diet.
Rolando that is fine. That is actually what happened for most of my days when I was on fat shredder.
EJ - the nutritional facts look good (Low sugar and fat / HIGH protein), and if you like them, that makes them perfect! RTDs tend to be a little more per serving than powder, but they are really convenient.
I had eaten a large meal with 30g protein around 445pm, then had a small preworkout meal with a few pieces bread around 38g carbs around 7pm (just had forgotten to add the whey, but the bread itself had 10g protein) and then worked out a half hour later. Then had an amazing workout overall burned almost 700 cal, and took the recovery drink, and ate dinner around 40 min later. Feel a bit sore today but alright overall, guess it's because I hadn't done plyo x in about 6 months and wasn't used to it.
Well there is no reason to take whey before your workout if you are working out later in the day with fuel already in your system. The whole concept of fueling up before a workout applies to those who workout first thing in the morning.
Hey Wayne, loved your post as usual. I'm confused though why taking protein before a workout is necessary if you're taking the recovery drink anyways. My trainer told me to take whey around a half hour before a workout to prevent muscle loss and last night I did plyo x and I realized I forgot to take it, so then I wondered if it mattered since I drank my recovery drink after.
Hey Jeremy, if you workout on an empty stomach, with no fuel for your muscles to use, you are more likely to go into a catabolic state (meaning that your body will break down muscle tissue for fuel under stress), and you don't want that. You want to burn fat and cals but not break down your muscle tissue.