How To Supplement Protein


It’s absolutely pissing down as I peak through the blinds.

I’m not doing a spin on the road this morning I’m doing a turbo session indoors instead.

I’ve been on the edge of sickness the last few days anyway.

A touch of the sniffles and what feels like the start of a sore throat – but it hasn’t progressed at all.

I hope you guys had a read of my blog on infection strategies a few weeks ago and employed some preventative strategies.

I thought I’d add to my recent supplement blog on beta- alanine with a clear up on some protein misconceptions.

Again- I don’t believe in everyone rushing out to spend money on supplements but I would like to make the A1 fraternity a little more aware of what they are buying and if they are to buy something, where their money would be best spent.


I’m a cyclist I don’t need protein – it puts on muscle I don’t need

Protein if supplemented correctly can be valuable tool for all cyclists.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows at this stage that eating protein after hard sessions helps us repair, replenish and rebuild – thus adapt.

Although with everyone being too busy to use a knife and fork nowadays people tend to struggle to get the required amounts and quantity in to optimise its benefits.

Protein powders are a convenient option and although I would be an advocate of eating real food – I’m also a realist and while I would like to self-prepare all my super food munchies nobody has that kind of time.

Unless you’re Sean Mc kenna and you ride a bike for a living.

So how do I choose one and how much do I take?  

I know, this area has gone completely mental with marketing and it hasn’t made the choice all that easy.


Intake guidelines

We mere mortal athletes need in and around 0.8 to 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of body weight a day to maintain our massive gains.

I’m about 80 kg at the moment and I’m doing a sizeable amount of work in the gym so I’m ingesting approximately 1.2 gram per kilo – or in other words 95 – 100 gram of protein a day.

If you’re a on our masters plan you may benefit from that little bit more to help repair build and maintain muscle mass.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends around 1.2 to 2 grams of protein/kg of body weight for serious athletes.

Research suggests that anywhere over 30g leads to expensive urine and you’re probably best saving the powder over the 20 gram mark.


Are all protein supplements equal?


They can be completely different depending on the source of the protein which alters the ratio of each amino acid within the protein.

Depending on the desired effect of supplementing the protein different ratios and sources may be more appropriate.

By far the most popular type are the milk based proteins whey and casein and then you have your vegan varieties such as soy, hemp and pea proteins.

So whether your building or maintaining muscle mass, using a protein shake as a snack or trying to recover from a hard session the source of protein can be chosen to suit its inherent qualities.


I just want to use it to recover –

It’s whey protein for me which makes up 20 % of milk protein.

No whey?


Ok, you go to the counter at the supplement shop.

‘I want whey protein please’

No worries sir, concentrate or isolate’?

Leaves store scratching head.


Isolate or concentrate

Whey isolates, are absorbed a lot quicker than concentrates and create a more profound insulin response.

Now then, when might we want this effect?

That’s right, this is why whey isolate is a good choice after workouts.  

On the flip side here anyone wishing to limit rises in insulin may want to avoid isolates because of their effects on insulin release – so if you have whey isolate use it for recovery purposes directly after exercise.

Other perceived benefits of isolate is that there is more protein per serving and tend to have lesser calories, and better if you get a snotty nose from milk based products.



Processing must occur to take whey to isolate and along with taking out some of the good stuff like all processing does it all makes it more expensive.

Bottom line in depends on what you’re after!

If you want it for directly after training both are good options – one has a higher level of processing and less lactose.


The case of casein

Casein makes up the other 80 % of milk protein.

The one outstanding practical difference between whey and casein is that casein takes hours to absorb.

Casein is therefore harder to digest and does so over several hours and is considered a ‘slow protein’.

So although whey has stolen the limelight casein may have its place for long term use and if you’re on a heavy training block and ingesting protein before bed – casein provides a nice slow release of amino acids while you sleep.


What about the plants?

While the plant based proteins are a great source of nutrients and high quality protein they often get slack for not containing the best ratio of branched chained amino acids.

Generally from the meat heads at the gym because they are not as being quite as favourable for building muscle.

In theory!

Let’s face it these plant based products yield far more overall health benefits and in my opinion there appears to be a paradigm shift towards there use in athletes.

For example pea protein is a great alternative for vegetarians as it has a very good amino acid profile (branched changed also) and it also has a very good digestion rate in comparison to other plant proteins.

While some plant based options are considered almost or incomplete with low values of certain amino acids – once we eat a balanced diet we will cover the remaining boxes so some sources of incomplete protein is completely fine.


My take home points

If you’re spending dosh on protein-

  • Casein at night
  • Whey isolate directly after a session
  • Plant based protein as a between meal snack (just be careful of additives and sweeteners)

Again supplements are meant to supplement a good diet, don’t be fooled into thinking they are the major component you’re missing – remember the ‘icing on the cake’ analogy I mentioned in the last blog.

A. Buggle

About the Author