When Not to Take A Protein Supplement

There is much-to-do about protein supplements, and making sure that you get the right balance of nutrients in your diet so that you can get the most out of your hard spent training time.

Our friends over at Precision Nutrition set the protein guidelines at 0.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight (for example 80g for a 100kg person), just to be at a level where you don’t end up with a deficiency. However, the guideline moves up o 1.4g-2g per kg bodyweight for people who are training or want to build muscle and burn fat. That brings it up as far as 160g of protein for a 100kg person.  To put this in perspective for you; a chicken breast can contain anywhere from 15-30g of protein depending on its size.

If you are getting 5 meals per day with roughly 30-40g (1-2 palm sized portions of meat/ fish etc.) of protein in each one that would bring you right up to the 150g-200g of protein per day, and you will be pretty much covered. However, if you are managing 3 meals per day with 30g of protein in each one, with a total of 90g, then you are short on protein in your diet.

However, some of you may find it hard to get 5 regular meals in, and a protein supplement can sometimes be called upon to make up the balance. You can get 20-40g of protein from a protein shake, and on this face of it, it can seem like a logical way to get the protein that you need into your diet. But it’s not always that straight forward. There are instances when you should NOT take or STOP taking a protein supplement. I see these things most commonly in team settings. Three of these instances are as follows:

  1. If it causes you to feel bloated
  2. If it causes you to have gas
  3. If you notice any skin irritations after starting to take it.

The three things listed above are very common, and a sure sign that your protein supplement is causing you to have digestive issues. The reasons behind these digestive issues can vary, and is beyond the scope of this early morning article, but rest assured, your body is NOT happy!

So what do you do instead? Well, the first part of call is to try to redress the balance of protein requirement with real food. Think more about how you can get your full quotient of protein from your meals throughout the day. Preparing meals in advance, and having a really good place nearby to be call upon when you are in need are simple ways of doing this. 

If you are hell bent on using a protein supplement, try the often less offensive than whey powder, vegan protein. SunWarrior have a decent product that sells for more than your average bag of protein, but is worth it if it can help calm your digestive turbulence after your post-workout shake. You could also experiment with Branch Chain Amino Acids as your main protein supplement and see how that works. Remember to try things on an experimental basis. If it works keep it, and if it doesn’t, stop doing it. The key point to take away here is that you should not be experiencing digestive issues when taking any form of supplement, and any form of food for that matter. Listen to your body, and give it what it needs, not what you are saying it needs.

This Article is by ACLAÍ Managing Director, and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.