“Protein powders have a place in an athlete’s meal plan, but what they don’t provide is a whole range of nutrients that a 120g piece of steak would,” says Dr Gary Slater, national performance nutrition coordinator for the Wallabies and senior lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at the University of the Sunshine Coast. “So with a steak you are getting the high-biological-value protein that’s very rich in leucine (the only dietary amino acid able to stimulate muscle building), but it’s also giving the iron, the zinc, etc, to go with it.”
All our expert dietitians agree that a protein powder with high biological availability (such as a whey protein isolate) can be valuable for its convenience immediately post-exercise, especially if you don’t have much of an appetite at that time. They also agree that it’s the protein itself that’s important – the added carbs and amino acids could simply be emptying your wallet.
For any protein supplement, read the label and adjust your serving size so that it provides 20-25g of protein – some suggested servings provide much more than this, just to get you to empty the tin faster. Here are our pick of cost-effective protein powders and their appropriate serving sizes. For added carbs, mix up your drink in a blender with banana or oats, or mix your powder with fruit juice.
Jun 20, 2012