If you listen to any bodybuilder, or read any bodybuilding magazine, protein powders and supplements are clearly indispensible to anyone who exercises regularly. So are you missing out by eating a high protein diet instead?
Unfortunately, as those magazines are also loaded with adverts for those self-same products they are endorsing, it is safe to assume that they are less than objective. So what's the truth?
How does protein powder and protein supplements in general stack up against protein rich foods such as meat, beans, egg whites or dairy? The reality is that protein powders / supplements will not build more muscle than chicken or egg whites or any other whole food protein - their big advantage is their convenience.
It is far easier to drink a protein shake than to buy, prepare, cook and eat poultry, fish or egg whites, particularly if you are at work or on the go. We all know that eating small, frequent meals is the best way to eat, whether you are aiming for muscle gain or fat loss, but for many people, eating this frequently is virtually impossible.
Other than convenience, protein supplements offer few advantages over protein rich foods. Does that mean you shouldn't take them? Absolutely not. There is no doubt that a protein shake is far better than grabbing a bar of chocolate or some take-away when you get the munchies.
They are also useful for those looking to lose weight, as increased protein intake (as long as you reduce your intake of carbs at the same time) is positively implicated in weight loss. The key to using them is to understand what they can and can't do for you.