Protein is probably the most important supplement a bodybuilder can add to their nutritional routine. This crucial nutrient plays a key role in muscle development, and, by its very nature, bodybuilding requires higher levels of protein than other athletic activities. You have probably heard the phrase “protein is the building block of muscle” or something similar. In fact, not only is muscle tissue made of protein, our bodies are largely made of it. When you lift weights, your muscles are slightly damaged in the process. It is the repair process that actually creates the bulk you are after. So if you want to build muscle, you want to ensure your body has sufficient amounts of protein in the right form to rebuild and repair your muscles from those workouts. But it’s not as simple as that, since some protein supplements are more easily absorbed than others, and too much protein, if not used up as energy during workout, will be stored in the body as fat. Fat is one of the things that obscures muscular definition.
The generally recommended amount of protein for bodybuilding is 1 gram per pound of body weight. Protein can be supplied in the diet by eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, soybeans and nuts, but it is difficult to consume sufficient amounts of these foods to supply the body with what it needs for the rigors of bodybuilding. Many dietary sources of protein are also somewhat high in fat and cholesterol. This is why it is generally better to use a protein supplement for bodybuilding than to rely on diet alone.
While most protein supplements come in a powdered drink form that are easily consumed and absorbed by the body, some are more easily absorbed than others because the body digests and breaks down certain types of protein more easily than others. Protein supplements such as whey are very easily assimilated and can be consumed as a source of energy prior to working out as well as immediately afterward to quickly replenish the muscles. Casein takes much longer for the body to process and is best consumed at bedtime to help supply our body during sleep, when it does most of the work repairing itself.
Other common protein supplements are soy and eggs. Soy is useful for vegan bodybuilders, but some risks have been associated with soy. Eggs are a readily available, inexpensive source of protein that are somewhat easily digested, but take care to watch the fat and cholesterol levels.
Now you have a better understanding of the importance of supplemental protein in bodybuilding.