protein powder and real protein food

Protein Powder Vs Real Protein food: do you need protein powder to build muscle?

Protein powders are everywhere on the market – but what do they do? Do you need a protein supplement? What do you need to know about them?

Today we’re going to cover these burning questions as we discuss what protein (all forms) is, what protein powder supplements do, and how you should think about using them in your fitness and natural bodybuilding journey.

protein powder versus chicken

1- Proteins what are they and their functions, elements

Proteins are the building blocks of various bodily tissues. You’re made of proteins, so you need to eat proteins to replace yours when they get damaged from exercise, or simply live to the end of their life.

You’ll find proteins in important tissues: tendons, muscles, and the fascia that hold different body parts together. The point is that they’re everywhere, crucially important, and their turnover – the rate at which they need replacing – is relatively high.

This is why the average person needs around 70-100g of protein per day just to maintain basic human function. When you’re active, that number is even higher – and then you start to need even more when you’re trying to build muscle mass. Since muscles are made from protein, more dietary intake allows you to build more (if you have enough energy).

a) Why is protein important for natural bodybuilding?

Protein is famously known to be the main nutrient in food that makes muscle growth happen

It’s seen as the main macronutrient that is necessary for muscle building – although fats and carbs are of course very important too.

Protein plays an important role for both muscle gains and weight loss processes. It’s a way of helping muscle growth and recovery after exercise, which is the most popular and famous role. Everyone associates protein – and protein powders – only with muscle growth because they’ll see these massive bodybuilders use protein supplements.

muscle growth diagram, before exercise, after exercise, after rest and nutrition

However, high protein diets also protect muscle during a fat-loss diet. They improve the quality of the diet and reduce the breakdown of muscle, helping you through the fat loss process. High protein diets are also shown to be amazingly useful for just about any health, fitness, or longevity goal:

  • Improved joint health and reduced injury risk
  • Supports metabolic regularity and reduces risk of common problems (like diabetes)
  • Builds more muscle and then protects it during fat loss
  • Regulates digestive speed – and thus metabolic-hormonal health
  • Supports wound healing and other repair processes
  • Is essential for skin health, regeneration, and anti-aging effects

The funny thing is these are still just a few of the benefits. There are a wide range of benefits that we can’t even get into today – but know that protein is just about the most tissue-important thing in your food!

2- Proteins for bodybuilding are important but not magic

Protein is an essential nutrient – but that doesn’t mean that protein has superpowers or that protein powders are essential to take.

The intake of protein in your diet comes from a wide range of sources and the more you try to respect your protein needs, the better. Looking at protein shakes and other supplements, they are just a way of getting convenient protein into your diet, and not a supplement you particularly need. If you can eat more chicken or other wholefoods, then you should.

Whey protein is just a popular supplement for the way that it can easily be carried, mixed, and consumed – especially after a workout. This is a supplement – it’s there to be bolted onto a good diet, not to replace one.

The more you focus on protein powder, the less you’re focusing on simple proteins from diet. 

We’re not protein-sceptics here at Natural Flex – we will use protein powders ourselves if needed – but they’re a secondary protein source. They shouldn’t be your main, or largest, protein source. 

protein powder and protein-rich food sources

Too many beginners put all their hopes and build over-reliance on these things and blind themselves from the most important: good programming and good basic solid food diet.

The marketing around protein powders is often exaggerated to paint them as magical, as necessary, or deeply complicated. There really isn’t much science to a lot of these claims and proteins are all very similar in a lot of ways – the best protein powder usually can be found in the cheapest one that is pure protein and doesn’t contain needless heavy metals, for example.

A lot of beginners treat protein powder like the solution to all their dietary needs – and this is directly negative. Any over-thinking of protein powder is better used towards better diet planning, prep, or simply building a better understanding of how diet works.

That’s what these articles are about: learning more about nutrition so you don’t get hoodwinked by aggressive (often false) marketing.

a) Will you not get results if you don’t eat protein? 

As we will see below, it’s not because you don’t eat the exact amount of protein that you should reach each day that you won’t build muscle. Especially if you still nourish yourself with sufficient amounts of carbs and fats and find yourself at a small to moderate calorie surplus and benefit from good training. 

We definitely advise you to define what’s the good amount of protein you should eat (1.2 to 2 gr of protein per kg of body weight) and stick to it, but if some days you don’t reach the required amount, it won’t have a massive negative impact on your results. 

Proteins are important, but they’re not as important as marketers want you to believe, like if you don’t eat 300 grams of protein a day – you’re cursed to never grow. 

These are lies and you should not fall for them!

b) Is solid food better than a protein shake?

It depends on the food, but solid, whole foods are usually better than protein powders as a source of macronutrients in your diet. This is because whole foods also have interesting vitamins and minerals properties, and the interactions between different compounds in the food matrix can improve the overall effect on your body.

Equally, it’s more filling, it has a wider range of nutrients, and can easily out-perform whey and other protein powders for amino acid composition.

However, there are times when you might consider protein powder to be better than solid food!

Protein powders are incredibly convenient and this is a lot easier than taking a Tupperware full of boiled eggs or chicken breast to the gym. You can throw powder in a shaker to improve the amount of protein you get immediately after a workout, when your body is – supposedly – most sensitive to the benefits of protein.

natural bodybuilder drinking a protein shake in the gym

This could also hypothetically be useful, because the water-soluble format is faster to get through your gut and into your bloodstream. This might make it more effective at acutely improving your recovery and growth than a slow-digesting, mixed nutrient meal where fats and fiber will slow down absorption.

Finally, it will always obviously be better to get your protein from whey or other powders as compared to a hot dog. There are whole foods that are more complex than whey in a bad way – where the health impact is negative, or the ratio of protein to things like salts, fats, and sugars are far worse.

3- Difference between solid protein and protein powder

Protein sources break down to this simple duality: liquid and solid.

There are a few sources in the middle – like cottage cheese and yoghurt – but those are exceptions. You either have to chew or you don’t – and in this contrast, solid proteins should be your priority – from foods like meats, seafood, beans and legumes, and mushrooms (like oyster mushrooms type).

Most people’s diets will benefit from a larger proportion of solid protein sources and those with a wider variety of real, whole foods. These are the most important part of any diet but our modern lives involve a lot of processed, under-nourishing foods. Shifting towards wholefoods is a good choice to improve many parts of your solid food diet.

For example, look at eggs vs protein powder – especially egg whites. These are the most important high-protein part of eggs and they’re packed with a wide range of nutrients (though not as many as the fat- and micronutrient-dense yolks). These are more bioavailable than whey (slightly), have a great micronutrient profile, and are very satisfying.

eggs protein versus protein powder

So, eggs vs protein powder, we’re definitely team eggs. They’re a real food, the whites are immensely protein-dense, and the yolks are full of important nutrients and good fats. These are some of the best ways to improve your diet and it’s why so many bodybuilders have eggs for breakfast (as well as the mental performance benefits and digestibility!).

Although, it’s again your job to find good quality eggs, because as mentioned before, our modern lives involve poor quality foods and the right quality food selection is important.

4-Examples of some of the basic best foods for protein intake

There are a wide range of great foods for protein intake and they vary from culture to culture, and from store to store. What’s most important is that you look at the groups, the types of food, and how you balance them in your own diet.

These are going to look familiar to anyone who has seen how most bodybuilders eat, but the important thing is that you start trying to use them more often – you can use them today if you’re near a store!

Meats: lean beef, venison, lamb

Poultry: chicken, turkey, and other bird-meats

Seafood: fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel), white fish (like cod and Basa), and shellfish

Beans and legumes: black beans and mung beans, among others, are packed with protein

Pulses: lentils and quinoa are good mixed-nutrient sources of protein for daily intake

Cultured dairy: cottage cheese and low-fat Greek yoghurt are very protein-dense 

range of high protein foods

The important thing is that you take these categories and key foods to guide your diet, and put them to work. With a few staple foods you can easily improve your overall diet and protein intake – 1-2 of these a day are significant enough to improve your whole diet – and with the goal of this article: especially for higher protein and better muscle growth.

5- Is protein powder considered natural?

Yes – protein powder is definitely natural in the ‘natty or not’ bodybuilding sense. It’s also really not an “unnatural” supplement as it’s simply derived from the cheese-making process.

It’s an isolated part of the milk you’d drink by itself, but more concentrated to get the best stuff and cut out the rest.

This is no more or less natural than – for example – flour. It’s a simple foodstuff that has gotten a bit of a nasty reputation because it’s associated with bodybuilding, which has its own reputation as being over the top and full of steroids. Bodybuilder’s protein shakes inherit their reputation for steroid use.

While these accusations are probably true, protein powder itself doesn’t have anything in it that you need to worry about. 

selection of protein powders

The general population doesn’t understand protein powder – and it’s easy for that to become concern and accusations of unnatural use. While these attitudes are excessive, it does bear consideration that natural, wholefoods are still better. The benefits of protein powder outweigh any scepticism – it’s just a convenient food extract.

Is protein powder a steroid? No. People who think so just have no understanding of nutrition. 

That’s on them.

[Editor’s note: that’s also on the public education system, which really doesn’t help with the myths around food, nutrition, and bodily change!] 

6 -Protein powder main benefits: it’s useful and convenient!

The key lesson is this: protein powders are not magic, but they are:

1. Useful

2. Convenient

These are the reasons they’re so popular. They do help you gain muscle mass over time – in the same way that a chicken breast helps muscle gains. The things you put in your body turn into your body, with time and rest.

Whey protein and other protein powders should mainly be just seen as a way of improving your protein intake without needing to cook and prep. This means that they (very closely) have all the same contribution to your results but without the same effort – and that can be amazingly useful when you’re in the gym or you’re busy at work.

protein powder shake and a belt in the gym

The convenience of a protein shake will always be the number one reason to invest – and you can typically get a lot of value out of a relatively small investment. Even cheap protein shakes are a great way to simply add a lot to your diet off of a very little cost. They do improve results, and that alone can be a huge change to your diet if you’re busy.

So – here are our favourite additional reasons to use protein powder – for whom/where we find it to be the most useful and how they can help you in your pursuit of better health, fitness, and performance.

a) Filling the gap

Protein powders are great to fill the gap when it’s hard to eat solid protein food – when studying, when working, or when you’re between tasks. It can be hard to eat for bodybuilding on a daily basis (imagine for those needing 200 grams a day!) and protein shakes can help you bridge the gap between different meals.

protein shake powder for a healthy snack at work

It’s better to stay high in protein throughout the whole day to get the best results. Your muscles don’t care about the time – they want a steady supply of protein all day long. If you’ve got more than 4-5 hours between meals, a protein shake can be a huge benefit to improve your results and provide consistent recovery.

This might not be a huge deal but the difference between another 25-50 grams of protein during your lowest energy times can help. It’s about removing times where you’re going to be missing out, which can significantly improve your results over the course of months and years.

b) Vegans and vegetarians: protein supplements are incredible useful

These are particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans, where blended protein sources in a protein powder can dramatically improve amino acid availability. These are often lacking in some areas, and topping up is still the best choice for maintaining fat-burning and muscle support. 

vegetarian and vegan protein food sources

As above, these should typically be blends. While soy and other proteins are complete, they’re typically not as well-varied across the essential amino acids. Again, the rest of the diet needs to align with this goal. The variety of a vegan and vegetarian diet is more important than for omnivores, and the protein blend can be an extension of this good practice.

c) Bodybuilding smoothies mixes

Whey protein shakes are to food as smoothies are to fruits. It’s just a convenient and enjoyable way to get more into your diet, drinking it rather than eating it. I wanted to make this comparison to highlight how useful protein powder can be.

fruit smoothie with protein powder

I think bodybuilding smoothies – mixing different protein powders with other ingredients in a blender – are a really enjoyable way to massively increase your nutrient intake. Bodybuilding smoothies are mixed with fruit, and bodybuilding shakes are mixed with milk and other ingredients (like bananas, or ice cream if you’re really struggling to hit your calories!).

If you’re trying to eat more food and increase your calorie intake, this can be a saving grace.

The added liquid and reduced solids can be a fantastic way to increase your total intake without immediately filling up. I know that I’ve used bodybuilding smoothies when I’m bored of eating chicken, rice, and beans for the 500th time that week (or if I just feel lazy cooking, which is… pretty often).

d) Protein timing and post-workout shakes

I felt like talking about protein timing, but know that with time, we’ve realised most studies around that aren’t established enough to confirm their accuracy. The anabolic window theory is beautiful, but we don’t really know how true this is. 

Even if this turns out to be true, it is a very small detail compared to the most important: splitting your protein intake and reaching the required amount throughout the day.

Now, if with time we discover that protein timing with post-workout shakes after training sessions are indeed confirmed to be important – I think it’s our duty to talk about the theory:

clock with 3 to 4 hour nutrition window

The best use of protein shakes is supposedly post-workout recovery, where they supposedly hit the body during its most sensitive period. This means optimal support for muscle protein signalling, which is how you push repair and growth in the time after workouts. 

Typically, this is most important for getting pre- and post-workout nutrition no more than 3-4 hours apart. This just ensures that your body stays stocked with the resources it needs to get better. 

Protein timing could be a small way that you can improve the way your body repairs and grows after exercise – something that is quite rare. And… whey is also a convenient way to take protein to the gym without making enemies – which might happen if you’re eating boiled eggs or old fish in public. 

Whey can also be easily mixed with carbohydrates – either as food or powder – to improve the total effects. This combination is more effective than either by itself – maximising muscular response.

7- Who should use protein powder?

There are a few people who are getting the most from protein powder – and who should prioritise it. These groups are hard “yes” for protein powder, since they get the best return on cash, with better results for the same effort and spend. 

These are still down to your individual diets and habits, where they’re going to be a huge factor in the proper development of muscle mass. They’re also dependent on other factors in recovery, as well as activity levels which determine just how much protein you need in the first place.

If you’re in one of these groups but you’re already getting plenty of protein, then don’t overthink it. Protein powder can be useful for some groups, but the actual utility is in getting enough – more doesn’t always mean better.

a) Anyone struggling to get enough protein

If you’re not getting enough, protein powders can be a good start, and that’s enough to start building more muscle and recovery immediately. It’s one of the easiest and most convenient ways to improve protein intake without any lag-time. Generally speaking, it’s not just with protein powders: the same idea goes for powder gainers, if you ever struggle to reach the amount of both your carb and protein intake and have a hard time eating solid food.

macro tracker where protein goal has not been reached yet

This is perfect if you’re struggling with scheduling, prep, food choices, and anything else. 

The point is that you’re going to be able to patch up your diet when you need to, but it should be a stepping stone to better overall dieting.

b) People with special food strategies

Special food strategies and anything with a plan may use protein powders.

There are many types of dieting, like the Renaissance Periodization program, which use protein powders. These are part of a larger strategy – where protein powder is a tool to a goal, and is blended with conscious, strategic eating for better results.

These are special conditions and they get their own justification from your coach, nutritionist, or others.

c) Vegans and vegetarians

As mentioned above, vegans and vegetarians can benefit more from specific types of protein powder blend.

range of best vegan protein powders

Some vegetarian diets and plant-based diets are low in protein without additional support. These people will receive better benefits per-gram than most protein powder users due to the proportional increase being greater. Adding 20% to your daily protein intake if you need it, for example, is better than only being able to add 10%.

d) Busy people

If you’re a hot-shot and you’re absolutely stretched out across your schedule during the day, having a protein shake is a huge way to improve your nutrition. 

Not only is it a great top-up when you can’t eat anything, but you can combine a protein shake with a carb source to cover many of your most important needs. For example, a take-away sandwich with cheese and vegetables becomes a well-rounded light meal when you add a protein shake.

The addition of a protein shake is a versatile and immediately effective way of adjusting the different parts of your diet to fit more closely together. These are simple, effective, and economical for most people.

e) Young bodybuilding enthusiasts living at home

This is a tale as old as time: you’re young and you want to get into shape but you don’t have complete control over your diet. Your parents buy the food, and you’re trying to fit a muscle-building diet around a sub-optimal grocery list.

Buying protein powder isn’t the best choice – it would be better to get support from your parents or guardians – but it’s one way to supplement a diet. If you’re struggling to reach your calorie and protein goals for bulking up, adding a protein powder and a cheap carb source (like oat powder or cyclic dextrin) can be a great way to gain weight.

It’s a relatively cheap option when you’re not cooking for yourself and don’t have the control you want over your diet. It’s not optimal, but it’s much better than nothing!

So go hide your protein powder under the bed and drink your shake when everyone’s asleep.

f) Serious trainees and intermediate-elite bodybuilders

This one should go without saying: if you’re an elite athlete, the small benefit that comes from adding a protein shake to your diet is worth the time and effort. It’s a dietary addition that helps improve performance and recovery – which is what being an elite athlete is all about. Let’s add that the average elite natural bodybuilder will also be a heavy person, which sometimes means around 200 grams of protein a day, which is hard to eat with only solid food.

natural bodybuilders competition

Many of the other reasons above are still going to be double effective for athletes: vegan athletes, those with a busy schedule, and the advanced timing benefits are all twice as useful for these people.

If you’re an elite athlete, you should either be well practised in managing your own development or, alternatively, have a coach or nutritionist guiding you through your diet. It’s very likely that this involved guided use of protein shakes and other supplements.

Who shouldn’t use protein / who should avoid protein powders?’

Who shouldn’t use protein powders? That’s easy – literally anyone that doesn’t need them or isn’t in the group above. As mentioned across this article, they’re not essential – they’re mostly necessary for the reasons mentioned above like convenience and optimising performance among elite athletes with time-pressures.

If you’re not in the above groups then it’s very possible that protein shakes represent an unnecessary cost. The only people who should use them are those who benefit either nutritionally or logistically – otherwise, you’re just paying for convenience.

This is fine, but it could turn out not to be a great choice all by itself and that can be a difference that isn’t worth the price.

8- How much protein does a bodybuilder need per kg of bodyweight?

The typical recommendation for protein is around 1.2g to 2g per kg of bodyweight, which turns out to around 100-150g of protein for the average man along with not running out of room in your diet for fats, carbs, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

These are the most important rules to follow and as long as you’re in this range, you’re not going to have any major problems. Let’s say that the goal, your goal – is that you’re at least reaching the minimums required.

basic protein intake guide

You’ll have daily fluctuations and that’s fine – the simple goal is to – on average – remain in balance over time. This should come from better choices and increased meal intake and not from the deprivation of your diet to rely on whey. Real food first, whey as a convenient supplement or performance-support for athletes.

Natural bodybuilding protein intake is one of the main areas where you can help change long-term results. You don’t have the secret sauce, but you can increase the dietary intake of muscle-building nutrients to support your best results and make the best of what you have.

Even with natural testosterone levels, the difference between (e.g.) 1.2g per kg of bodyweight and 1.8g per kg, and a good healthy diet overall, can have noticeable effects over the years!

Before we close this chapter… people often ask, “How many protein shakes should I drink a day”?

These are simple guidelines for upper limits – fewer is better when you’re already getting enough protein – as it represents getting more real foods and fewer low-micronutrient shakes.

There’s no set number of protein shakes – what really matters are the calorie needs and intake you’re set to follow. 

The real answer to this question is simply: reach your protein needs and decide how you diversify it between shakes and real foods. if you’re supposed to get 200 grams of protein a day, I don’t really care how you do it, you just do it and if you want to do it only through protein shakes – then this might as a result come down to 5 protein shakes a day.

But if you use our advice of balancing things out, then you might simply get 70% of your protein intake through whole foods and then need 2 protein shakes to fill the gap of the last 30% needed! 

9- Is it bad if you don’t reach the recommended set amount of protein?

It depends how far off you are. If you have a guide of 200g, then it’s bad to only hit 100g. If you hit 180g then it’s not as severe and won’t be a major problem. It’s always better to get the goals, but that’s about it!

The practical difference to muscle growth may be very minor – or nothing at all. However, it’s still about practising the right protein habits and providing your body with the important nutrients that it needs for recovery and other, non-muscular tissues!

We don’t recommend going under the 1.2g per kilogram number. That’s the minimum for highly active people and bodybuilding – any less than that may compromise recovery and growth. Find the right balance and slowly ease it up over time.

10- When should you eat your protein?

As briefly mentioned above, you should try and keep protein levels up throughout the day. 

You can skew this towards post-workout and pre-sleep protein intake – where your body might show more sensitivity to protein intake or has important hormonal processes coming up.

protein powder and protein-rich foods with clock

In these situations, protein shakes are great. Whey protein is usually loved after workouts, while casein is the one people go for protein before sleep. This provides the most important fast-absorption and slow-absorption protein source, respectively.

The most important thing above all is to hit your daily intake, and then you can distribute that more effectively across the day as you’re improving over time and refining your habits. The “anabolic window” or “drinking casein before bed” if they work, are tiny details. 

The efficiency of these practices are still debated today, but what’s important is that you hit your daily intake, that’s the only real move that matters.

These are the basics, and as you know, we’re really keen about focusing on the basics at Natural Flex, we focus on the basics and then, look at the details.

a) Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Rest Days?

You should simply maintain your protein intake across both training and rest days.

The long-term effects of protein are most important, where repair and growth is a 24-48 hour process. This is why you should not just eat high protein on training days.

If anything, you should take this approach with your carbohydrates – protein shouldn’t change significantly from day to day. Protein intake should be consistent from day to day to get the best results, where you’re going to support consistent protein availability.

Whether you’re working out or not, your goals are daily goals, that contribute to your long term weekly, monthly goals.

You don’t even need to go to the gym to get benefits from protein shakes. As mentioned above, they regulate metabolism and other factors that are important no matter how active you are.

The average person could benefit from protein shakes for their metabolic rate, maintaining muscle mass, or just reducing hunger and other cravings.

The benefits of protein are more varied and mundane than people think – it’s not just about massive mega-muscles and pumping your guns!

This is even more important and effective during a weight loss diet where it improves just about everything.

11- The different (main) types of protein powders 

There are different types of protein powder and they represent different ingredients, priorities, and roles in your diet.

a) Whey Protein

whey protein powder for natural bodybuilding

Whey protein is the most popular and well-known protein powder. It’s the whey made during the fermentation process of milk and is typically just a high-protein milk extract, making it an easy staple.

Whey protein is also known as the fast absorbing protein which is why it’s so popular. You can drink it after a workout to improve protein levels when they’re (supposedly) most in-need, and your muscles will appreciate it. While it’s a bodybuilding tradition to drink a post-workout shake, you don’t need to.

As mentioned above, it’s preferably a good way to improve your total protein intake and supposed to be slightly more effective than at other times – but it’s a popular idea, and today we realise it might just be that: a popular idea without clear evidence it is better.

That’s why daily intake is still key and what we encourage you to go with. 

The real good thing about drinking your protein shake after a workout is that it’s a good way to stack your habits together so that you don’t forget to drink your shake.

b) Casein protein

casein protein powders for natural bodybuilders

The second most popular is casein – a type of protein powder that is also derived from the same process as whey. Casein is from the curds of milk, and is a considerably slower digesting form of protein.

This has made casein popular as a pre-bed protein powder to improve overnight recovery, muscle building, and next-day performance. It’s a great way to top up before bed and ensure you’ve got all the most important nutrients your body needs for that “slow burning” overnight recovery.

This isn’t essential but it’s pretty popular among elite athletes and bodybuilders. It’s just good to have a protein powder dedicated to this kind of recovery, though you can use mid-absorption protein powders too – your body slows down digestion and other processes overnight because of sleep.

Milk protein is the natural form of proteins in milk – obviously! This means a protein split of around 80% whey and 20% casein – providing a mixed (or blended) protein source and a mid-speed digesting supplement.

This could be another choice for late-evening drinking, where it will provide immediate protein support but also a long-term source for sleeping. This is a decent for all-purpose protein supplementation as it’s not as single-purpose as either whey or casein proteins.

Milk protein isn’t as popular but it can be something to try out. It’s not magic, however, and it has some drawbacks. It’s not as effective for a singular purpose as the others, and is usually not as cheap as whey despite being less filtered and more ‘whole-food’.

c) Other types of protein powder

Plant protein powders are made from a wide range of supplement ingredients – from rice to soy to hemp and onto pea. These are all interesting sources and lack some of the potency of animal proteins, due to lower bioavailability and/or an incomplete amino acid profile.

plant-based protein powders for natural bodybuilders

Plant protein blends are a great choice for most people, especially vegans. They are complete proteins and – while they’re less bioavailable – they do basically the same thing. Plant proteins just like milk protein are also mid-speed absorption.

This makes them a good all-rounder for vegans and vegetarians trying to reduce animal product intake. Of course, they’re also the best protein source for lactose intolerant people trying to build more muscle without the digestive distress or potential contamination of whey, casein, or other powders.

As before, this makes them an acceptable choice for post-workout supplementation but not as rapid as whey. Interestingly, like milk protein, they have a better post-workout protein availability profile since they’re not immediately absorbed or excreted – which is a common complaint for whey.

You can also use protein powders for purposes that aren’t just protein shakes. There’s a wide range of uses for protein powder besides shakes. Whey (and Vegan) protein waffles or whey protein pancakes are popular, while you can also use it for a wide range of other options:

  • Smoothies
  • Homemade mass gainer
  • Oats (after cooking)
  • Vegan baked goods (don’t bake with whey, ever)
  • Plant protein bread
  • Homemade protein bites
  • No-bake protein bars
  • Mixed with yoghurt to make a basic, nutritious dessert
  • Soups and sauces

There are plenty of options out there – it’s just about making sure you’re getting the right flavours, blends, and combinations. You can use unflavoured whey for many options, but otherwise it’s about planning your uses around the flavour(s) you’re buying!

12- Can protein be dangerous?

No, protein is not a dangerous substance for any healthy person – the only conditions where protein is a bad idea are very severe organ failure. For example, people with severe kidney problems must maintain a relatively low protein diet to avoid excessive strain on the kidneys.

For most people, a good amount of protein is better. This applies double for active people who are breaking down more proteins in the body. It applies most to athletes and performance enthusiasts who are using their diet to improve their results and performance.

The only danger of protein for most people is becoming too dependent – which can cause poor dietary habits, while also chewing through your bank account! Protein supplements are economical but they’re still costly and the market has a lot of variety.

Otherwise, the only real risks are contamination and individual suppliers and their choice of ingredients. There have been scandals in protein powder but they’re rare and typically found out very quickly. Whey protein is gluten-free, free from common allergens (aside from lactose), typically considered natural, and doesn’t include any controversial ingredients.


Protein powder is a great tool to have at your disposal and can help you when busy, to support better total protein intake, or it can be used to support better performance. Protein powders are simple but offer a valuable option when you’re in a pinch.

You can do a lot with a protein powder – as long as you understand what each is best for, how the flavours of protein and blended ingredients work, or just how you can use protein beside shakes. It’s good to have this basic info so that you know how to use protein powder to build muscle more effectively. It’s not a necessity, but it’s one of the most valuable uses of money on convenience and dietary utility in the fitness industry. Make sure that your protein powder manufacturer doesn’t have recent scandals, has a good reputation and – ideally – a 3rd party testing program!