Protein pills are one way that you can supplement and get more of this essential macronutrient. Protein pills often contain bone broth, collagen, and sometimes amino acids or whey protein. There are advantages to taking a pill compared to a powder, such as a convenience and lower calories, but are protein pills for muscle a good idea?
Protein is essential in our diets. It’s one of the three macronutrients, and the other two are fats and carbs. Each macronutrient has different effects, with protein being the most filling. You can feel the fullest for the longest while eating less food. There are several reasons this is true, including the fact that protein can reduce ghrelin, which is your hunger hormone.
Protein is a building block for muscle. If you’re regularly doing strength training or want to maintain the muscle mass you already have, you need to ensure you’re getting enough protein. High protein intake can also help you avoid muscle loss if you’re losing weight.
Other benefits of protein in your diet include:
- It’s good for your bone strength and health. People who eat more protein tend to keep their bone mass better as they age and lower the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
- Protein has more of a thermic effect than carbs or fat, meaning it can boost your metabolism. It can also increase how many calories you burn.
- Protein helps your body repair itself if you’re injured since it’s a building block of organs and tissues. Eating plentiful amounts of protein can significantly speed up your recovery if you’re hurt.
- As you age, your muscles weaken. In the most severe cases, it’s called sarcopenia. Upping your protein intake can help reduce the risk of age-related muscle deterioration and prevent sarcopenia.
Protein and Muscle Building
Protein is essential for building, maintaining, and also repairing muscle. Once you consume protein, the enzymes in your small intestine break it down into chains of amino acids, and these are peptides. When you do strength training, it causes microtears in your muscles. The micro-tears cause an immune response that involves growth hormones and stem cells. These use amino acids to repair the damage. The amino acids go to damaged muscle cells and trigger myofibrils growth. Those are the filaments making up our muscles.
The myofibrils fuse with damaged muscle fibers, which is how you get bigger and stronger muscles.
The amount of protein you need if your goal is specifically to build muscle can depend on your age, exercise routine, and weight.
The recommended daily allowance of protein for someone who’s a healthy adult with minimal physical activity is 0.8 grams per kg of your weight. That equals 0.8 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight every day. If someone weighed 165 pounds, they would need 60 grams of protein daily to meet that recommendation, and someone who’s moderately active would need to increase that to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight.
The amount of protein is important for muscle building, but the timing is also relevant. You should try to consume protein shortly after exercise to benefit muscle protein synthesis. When you have protein after you weight train, it can also help facilitate the muscles’ adaptive response.
So what if you didn’t work out? Could protein alone help you build muscle?
If you’re increasing protein intake and you aren’t doing strength training, you probably aren’t going to notice any significant physical changes. You can start small by creating a place to workout at home using rubber lock tiles, and do body weight exercise to build up strength to add more weight gradually.
Increasing Your Protein Intake
If you are active and regularly doing strength training, you can up your protein intake in different ways. One way is eating foods high in healthy protein. Plant-based foods high in protein include beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds, and protein is in meat, fish, eggs, and poultry.
If you have difficulty getting protein from your diet, you might want to add protein shakes into your routine, especially after a workout. Animal-based protein sources are the best because they’re a complete protein, and protein powder should be used as a supplement rather than your primary source of protein.
Protein pills don’t have as much protein per serving as powder, and they’re primarily of different types—collagen, amino acids and bone broth. The benefits for muscle building from these types of protein would mainly be that they could help your muscles recover faster after training. These types of protein can also help reduce joint pain and other issues that could prevent you from training otherwise.
If you know that you need more protein, and it’s not an option to get it from your diet or a powder, then pills can be one way to add some more to your intake. Protein pills can help with muscle growth, but not as much as diet and strength training.
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