Within this past year, I said to myself that I wanted to test my body and fitness levels to the best potential they could be.
Understandably, the journey to peak fitness is never a straight line, and I am sure many fitness conscious individuals out there would agree with me. It’s a constant work in progress.
Nevertheless, a year down the line, I am over 20kg lower on the scales, and at my best physique ever of around 15-16% body fat. I call that a job well done. However, it is never over. This has become a lifestyle to me, and right now, I am on the next stage of my journey, which is to bulk up and get that muscle strength!
Within this blog post, I am hoping to inspire other women out there that may be facing a similar and intimidating situation as I was at the beginning of my fitness quest. The question of ‘what protein supplementation should I use, to build the body I want?’ definitely popped into my head, and probably yours too I am assuming.
Despite a nutritional degree qualification in the bag, it was a hard choice to make for me and my body, as you will see when reading further into this. My progress had many obstacles, frustrations and dietary realisations. Yet, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
What supplements do I take now?
While the type of supplementation never really changed for me personally (protein powder base), I alternated from taking Impact Whey Protein from Myprotein, to sticking to the Vegan Protein range and the ISO Whey from Women’s Best.
After a couple of months taking Whey powder, I noticed that I had a really uncomfortable bloating that happened far too frequently. Knowing that Whey protein is a dense protein derived from milk, I decided to substitute for a vegan alternative and isolate (whey protein without the lactose) to see if that helped and just as suspected, the bloating had gone down pretty much immediately after my little experiment.
Lactose dense protein supplements were not my friend, and this was purely down to having IBS and struggling with the digestion of certain food groups.
I would highly recommend that if you are introducing Whey protein (that is not an isolate), or any other protein for that matter, definitely track how much you take, and monitor how you feel.
Many newbies taking supplements often neglect this, and wonder why they feel sluggish and bloated all the time-you should not be feeling this way, and there are many plan b’s that you can look into. By being mindful of what you are eating and recording a food diary at the beginning of taking your supplements is my biggest tip.
My daily protein intake
- 1 Heaped scoop of Women’s Best chocolate ISO Whey mixed with water directly post-training.
- 1 Heaped scoop of Chocolate Vegan Protein by Women’s Best with 200-300 ml of Almond Milk, 30-60 grams of peanut butter (depending on level of activity that day). I take peanut butter as a snack before bed, to keep away the hunger cravings-a girl has got to stick to her daily macros!
How has taking protein powders helped me?
Currently, I am clean-bulking with hopes of gaining more muscle mass, after recently recovering from a very long calorie deficit period.
I am eating just above my maintenance of 2800 calories, and honestly, using the protein powder supplements that I do have really made it much more convenient in making sure I hit my daily macros.
I really struggled at the beginning of my bulking journey, as the transition from eating less to suddenly eating more was rather overwhelming for me. So, the protein shakes I have in my routine, really do help to break up the eating that I need to do.
While protein powders – and more importantly for me, vegan protein powders – really help you stay on top of your eating, it is important to consistently track and re-evaluate what your macronutrient needs are for the fitness regime you have.
Protein powders are not the whole picture, but usually just a jigsaw piece of the puzzle. While I used to be in a deficit previously, one protein shake usually would have sufficed for my daily dietary needs. Now, the story is quite a different one.
How do I use my protein supplements?
Currently I commit to 2 sessions a week of HIIT training, mainly because I love it (yes, I really do), and 4-5 times a week of overload weight lifting, where I am focusing on building my strength and muscle gain, of course. Additionally, I like to do some yoga in the mornings, particularly on my rest days, because it helps my mental well-being, but also deal with the occasional post-heavy gym day DOMS too (Delayed-onset muscle soreness).
I make sure that after each session of training, I always take my ISO whey protein immediately, as through great understanding from sports nutrition papers during my studies, whey protein is utilised to its fullest potential after immense tension exerted on the muscles.
Whey protein is a fast absorbing protein powder, meaning if you really are looking to build some muscle and see those gains, taking it post-gym will certainly give you a good nudge towards making some muscle synthesis gains along the way.
Alternatively, the vegan shake I make with peanut butter is perfect for keeping me satiated in between my meals or before bed. Despite peanut butter being pretty low in carbohydrates, the percentage of carbohydrates that are present are a source of fibre which really holds my stomach while I sleep.
My closing thoughts
While my journey with whey protein had its ups and downs, once I accommodated my dietary needs with an ISO alternative, it really has allowed me to push myself and maximise the best out of my training sessions.
I am sure you have heard that in all fitness regimes, 80% of the results are purely from your diet. Therefore, by making sure I consistently track and alter my macronutrients to suit my energy expenditure, whey protein powders have allowed me to efficiently adapt from a fat loss journey directly into a muscle building journey. They are hugely convenient, and are a perfect way to preserve/build the body aesthetic I am working towards.