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How To Get Started With Whey Protein

Whey protein is one of the essential supplements to take when you start getting into a gym routine with set fitness goals. With one protein shake, you aid muscle recovery, boost protein synthesis to gain lean muscle mass, and help accelerate fat loss. For most people, the sheer scope of protein powders might be a tad overwhelming, so we've broken down the three things you need to know about taking whey protein before you get started.

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WHAT WHEY SHOULD YOU TAKE?

Processing is required to reap the full benefits of whey. The more processing it goes through, the purer it is. With minimal processing, you get whey protein concentrate, which is friendlier on your budget, but only contains 60 to 70 percent protein, while the rest comprises of fat and carbohydrates. It doesn't reduce the effectiveness of the whey protein as a whole, but the other nutritional components should be considered when you're planning your diet.

Whey protein isolate is the middle-tier whey. It has gone through more extensive filtration, and has very low fat and carb contents. With up to 90 per cent protein, whey protein isolates are great for pre and post-workout consumption as they are absorbed quickly.

At the top of the ladder is whey protein hydrolysate, a highly processed whey that has gone through hydrolysis. This allows the whey protein to be pre-digested, for even faster absorption into your body. Whey protein hydrolysate is the ideal protein to take before and after workouts, and it is great for people with lean body goals as it is extremely low in fat and carbs, though the price point might be a deterrent. Be familiar with your nutritional requirements, dietary needs and budget before committing to a protein powder. When in doubt, always read the nutritional label before committing to the protein.

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WHEN DO YOU TAKE WHEY PROTEIN?

A simple benchmark would be to consume it 15 to 30 minutes pre-workout, and/or within 30 minutes post-workout. Whey protein provides a quick shot of necessary amino acids to your muscle tissue, which helps promote muscle growth, particularly if you're doing strength training. Aside from around your workouts, whey can be consumed as a mid-day snack to satiate hunger pangs and help fat loss.

Don't get too trigger-happy with your protein shakes though, it is important to know how much protein you should consume daily:

- If your goal is to maintain your lean muscle mass, a daily target of 1.0g/kg bodyweight is a good target.

- If your goal is to lose body fat whiles building lean muscle mass, a daily target of 1.5g/kg bodyweight is essential.

- If your goal is to gain mass and build muscle, a daily target of 2.0g/kg bodyweight is a minimum.

WHAT WHEY PROTEIN SHOULD YOU TAKE?

Few products use high-end whey isolates as the main ingredient, but the ones that do are very popular like MusclePharm Combat 100% Whey ($85) and Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey ($89), which contain 24g of protein and very low carb and fat content. If you prefer your protein powder with carbohydrates and organic flavouring, try Pure Sports Nutrition Whey Protein Concentrate ($79), which contains 22g of protein and all-natural, raw flavouring and sweetener, while being gluten-free. For a budget-friendly option, try Lush Protein Whey Protein 80 ($39). It's one of the best-selling pure whey powders on the market, with 19.9g of protein per serving. See the rest of our whey protein powders here.

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