Do we Need Protein Supplements?

Have you fallen victim to protein hype?

Unfortunately, many avid gym-goers are wasting their money when it comes to protein supplements. It’s no secret that sports nutrition and fitness is big business, after all, over 4 million Australians have gym memberships! In fact, in 2015 alone, Australians spent over $8 billion on gym memberships, sports equipment/clothing and supplements – a whopping $2340 per household! All this demand for fitness has led to a surge in protein powder consumption, but also the presence of high protein variants of popular products – Weetbix, Ice Break and Pauls Milk are just a few brands who have unveiled protein-enriched lines in the last couple of years.

 

But do you really need them?

 

There is a misconception in the fitness world that, going to the gym must be accompanied by some form of protein supplementation, but actually, most of us are consuming enough protein through a regular diet. Of course, protein requirements vary across individuals, athletes and pro-bodybuilders may need more, but the average person working out at the gym a few times a week shouldn’t need any more protein – provided that they’re eating a balanced diet.

Having protein supplements when they’re not needed will mean you’re effectively “flushing your money down the toilet” as excess protein is discharged through the urine, but…

Will too much protein cause you harm?

Ironically, consuming too much protein can make you gain weight and it won’t necessarily be on your muscles! When the body has too much protein, the leftover protein will either be turned into energy or fat as your body can’t store it for later use. Therefore, if weight-loss is your ultimate goal, best to take caution. Additionally, you don’t want your protein consumption to overwrite other nutrients that are important for your overall health such as, fruits and vegetables, particularly if your protein is coming from supplements, as they are often high in sugar and low in fibre.

In summary, protein supplements are meant to be just that, supplements, but lately that knowledge has become blurred. If you’re serious about your workout, whether you’re playing elite sport or just trying to build some muscle, it’s important to nail down your diet so you’re not spinning your wheels when it comes to progress. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there so it can be difficult to know where to start. If this applies to you, come and see us at Sunshine Coast Dietetics and we can provide a dietitian to suit your needs.