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Army July 18, 2013
Protein powders, pre-workouts and other potions;
what’s good, what’s not and do we really need
them? LS Helen Frank weighs in to the world of
amino acids in the first of a three-part series.
DO YOU want to increase
your endurance during
workouts, decrease your
recovery time between
training sessions, increase your
strength gains or speed up your fat
loss? Effective supplementation can
augment your efforts in the gym and
the kitchen, but you need to know
what you are taking.
The most common supplement
used by gym goers is protein powder.
You need protein for a number of
Australian Institute of Sport dieti-
tian Greg Shaw said protein was an
essential nutrient in the diet and was
necessary to build body proteins that
have important structural and func-
“Proteins are made up of various
sequences of about 20 different amino
acids,” Mr Shaw said.
“Eight of these amino acids are
essential and must come from the diet.
Some amino acids are used as a minor
fuel source during exercise.”
Amino acids act as building blocks
for most bodily structures, including
hair, organs, skin and muscles. Using
amino acids, we build new tissue and
repair damaged tissue.
Defence’s Senior Medical Adviser
for Occupational and Environmental
Medicine, Mathew Klein, said Joint
Health Command encouraged good
nutrition in the form of a healthy,
balanced diet rather than the use of
“While additional protein is ben-
eficial when building muscle bulk, it
can be obtained by adding protein-
containing foods rather than by the
use of supplemental protein powders,”
Dr Klein said.
Protein is needed to maintain qual-
ity of life, especially in the later years
where bodies are more susceptible to
skeletal muscle wasting.
Studies of men eating 1g of protein
per kg of bodyweight showed they
had a greater level of feeling full than
similarly-aged men eating less protein.
They also reported a superior ability to
stick to an eating plan.
Most people don’t need a lot of
protein. Mr Shaw said the recom-
mended daily intake was 0.75g per
kilo of bodyweight a day, but some
people would need more.
“Those undertaking resistance
exercise have requirements that
are slightly higher at 1.5-2g a day
depending on age, nutrition, training
focus, training age and gender,” he
Highly active athletes, powerlifters
crossfitters, people trying to gain mass
and strength and those trying to lose
can help athletes
training, but that
you need protein
weight can benefit from an increased
protein intake. This improves diet
adherence and provides amino acids
for muscle recovery and repair.
So do you need to use a protein
powder to supplement your intake?
Protein powder can help athletes
recover from training, but that doesn’t
mean you need protein powder.
Protein powders have been formu-
lated to stimulate muscle tissue growth
from a minimal amount of quality
protein. However, the variability in the
ingredients, quality and contamination
can impact on their effectiveness.
“I would recommend a protein
powder to a person who is looking to
increase muscle mass and is undertak-
ing regular resistance exercise for con-
venience immediately after resistance
training if they are unable to access
quality food within the next hour,” Mr
“I encourage real food protein
sources at all main and mid-meal
snacks to continue the growth and
repair of muscle tissue if the person
was looking to increase lean muscle.”
Mr Shaw said protein intake is an
effective way of increasing muscle
protein for 24 to 48 hours after resist-
ance exercise, so regular intake of
quality protein sources throughout the
day would help muscle growth.
Next edition: Choosing the right supplements.
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