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Athletic Supplements - Protein: Building Blocks of Muscle

Athletic Supplements - Protein: Building Blocks of Muscle


We've all walked down that aisle. It starts with diet drinks and vitamins. As soon as you're halfway down the shelf you're seeing big plastic jugs of protein, arginine, amino acids. When did you need to be a microbiologist to understand exercise and building muscle? Rest assured that there are a few popular supplements that are legal, safe, and can help with muscle gain and athletic performance.

Consult Your Physician Before Taking Any Supplements

First off, if you are planning on supplementing your exercise regimen with supplements, you should consult your physician, nutritionist, or trainer before beginning. There are a few supplements that do not interact well with pre-existing medical conditions that you may have. You should always take the dosage recommended to you by your healthcare professional and not exceed maximum dosages as listed on the packaging.

And please note that in this article we are simply discussing the more popular athletic products and seeing what they do. We are not advising anyone in the use of these supplements.

About Protein Supplements

The simplest and easiest supplement to discuss is protein. You'll see it in powder, liquid, and bar form as you walk through nutrition aisles and sporting goods stores. Simply put, protein is the building blocks for muscle tissue, and the rest of our bodies for that matter. When we exercise we are putting stress on muscles, doing damage, and rebuilding tissue during recovery. Protein is broken down into amino acids that rebuild muscle.

Where the Protein Comes From

Aside from the protein bars, you'll usually see protein in powder form. These have been acquired from two different sources; whey or soy. Soy protein comes from soy beans. Soy beans are what we get in restaurants and stores when we buy edamame, soy milk, tofu, and even miso. Whole soy protein is the most cardiologically endorsed protein out there since it is low in fat and has been linked to a healthy heart. Whey protein comes as a byproduct of the cheese making process. Whey is the most popularly used protein supplement due to its high absorption rate and high levels of essential amino acids.

Can You Take Too Much Protein?

Of course the question now arises: can you consume too much protein? Of course you can. You can have too much protein the same way that you can have too much water, prunes, or Jonas Brothers albums. What all these have in common is that the excess is turned into waste and then excreted by your body. In the case of protein, this can overwork your kidneys and liver. While a short period of this extra work for your organs isn't detrimental, a prolonged period of your kidneys and liver in overdrive is not healthy.

Protein supplementation is probably the least debated nutritional practices of athletes. This is not to say that more protein in your diet alone will lead to bigger muscle growth. Adequate amounts of protein along with a healthy diet and exercise will produce results.

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