Protein Supplement Guide | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Protein Supplement Guide

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Protein is an essential part of every person’s diet, but how much protein you need will vary.
  • If you are not getting enough protein in your diet, or if you want to supplement for fitness goals, there are multiple options available to you.
  • Getting the right protein from the right sources is vital to living a full and healthy life.
You can read through our protein supplement reviews until you are blue in the face, but sometimes it helps just to take a gander at a comprehensive protein supplement guide before choosing which protein supplement to buy.

Read on to learn all about how much protein you need!


Keep in mind that protein alone is not enough for your overall fitness and health needs. Exercise is vital. Go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, and more.

Protein Power!

Fitness in America is a complicated thing. We are constantly bombarded with images of cheap fast food that is bad for us, while at the same time constantly shown images of fit, attractive people (and worse yet, fit, attractive people eating cheap fast food that is bad for us!)

Chances are you, like many Americans, are lacking a high-quality diet that includes protein.

Low carb diets, which are naturally higher in fat and protein, are all the rage, but they are badly misunderstood.

How much protein does a person need? Will it make you “too muscley?” Is it bad for your kidneys?

A lot of people out there don’t even know what protein really is. We eat it every day without really understanding how it affects us and what it does.

Protein is made up of essential amino acids. Your body breaks protein down and uses the amino acids to make new muscle.

Most naturally occurring protein you buy in the store is made of animal muscle. But sometimes you don’t want to break down muscle just to build it back up into muscle. In these cases, you grab a protein supplement. Protein supplements are concentrated, easy to digest protein.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

How much protein a person needs is a hotly contested point. Pick up any weightlifting magazine and you’ll no doubt see three or four different articles, each telling you that you need a different amount of protein.

It makes you wonder if the writers even talk to each other when they are writing their articles. By way of example, here’s a short video going over some figures:

The bottom line is, it’s slightly different for everybody, but sedentary (inactive) males of average weight need about 56 grams of protein per day. If they want to put on some extra muscle, they need more in the neighborhood of 92 grams of protein per day.

Women, on the other hand, only need about 46 grams of protein per day if they are not especially active. If they want to add some muscle (and no, extra protein won’t make you look like one of those women on the weightlifting magazines!), then they need about 74 grams of protein each day.

If you hear these numbers and think: “I can eat much more protein than that!” then stop right there! Eating a ton of protein every day will not help you bulk up faster. Eating more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is just a waste!

(Hint: 1 kilogram = approximately 2.2 lbs, so a pretty good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t eat more than 2x your bodyweight in lbs of grams of protein daily. It won’t make you gain muscle any faster.)

When Is the Best Time to Take Protein Supplements?

Timing is key when ingesting protein. Even if you’re eating exactly the right amount for your height, weight, muscle mass, and activity level, if you are waiting too long after your workout, you are missing a powerful opportunity to improve your physique.

The anabolic window is a metabolic pathway that opens up immediately after lifting weights and closes about 45 to 60 minutes later.

If you are not getting a big hit of protein right after lifting weights, you may not be taking advantage of all the hard work you did in the gym. Think of 30 to 60 minutes as the outside range of how long you can wait to get a protein supplement into your body after a workout.

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What Is the Best Type of Protein Supplement to Take?

Each protein supplement is different. Some are better sources of amino acids and vitamins compared to others.

  • WheyWhey protein, derived from milk, is the most popular protein supplement. There are two main kinds: whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein. They are both easy to digest and rich in amino acids. Isolate’s main strength is that it has only 1 percent lactose and is almost entirely free from fat. Hydrolyzed whey protein, on the other hand, is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
  • CaseinCasein is a special kind of milk protein that is unique for lasting five to six hours instead of 1 to 2.
  • Soy – From the land of vegetables comes soy protein. Along with rice and hemp protein, it is one of the few vegetable sources of protein available. It is very common in shakes and bars. It weighs in just south of casein in terms of amino acid concentration.
  • Egg white – Last up is egg white protein, which actually can compete with casein pretty well in terms of overall amino acid levels. It also has a very high protein efficiency ratio, coming in at 3.9.

What Are Some Non-Traditional Protein Supplements?

Those are the main contenders for the protein crown, but there are still others out there:

  • SpirulinaSpirulina is derived from minute photosynthetic creatures somewhere between plants and microscopic animals. Spirulina is almost 70 percent protein in its natural form, almost 100 percent of which is digestible. The only major drawback to this protein source is that almost a third of the population is allergic to it!
  • Chlorella – The same is true of chlorella protein. This unique substance actually bonds to heavy metals and can help detox your body.
  • Hemp seedHemp seed protein can be a good vegan/vegetarian protein supplement option. The only problem with hemp is that it is normally only about 30 percent protein — jumping to 50 percent when processed and concentrated.
  • RiceRice protein can give other alternative proteins a run for their money. Rice protein is 80 to 90% pure, and it’s hypoallergenic. It has a total absorption ratio of almost 100 percent.

And don’t forget that regulating your protein intake is just part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise is key. Go PRO today for access to certified personal trainers, workout plans, goal trackers, and more!

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