The Healthiest Protein Powder (updated July 2019)

Healthiest Protein Powder

What is Protein Powder?

Let’s start with the basics. Protein powder is powdered protein concentrate, which can be mixed with water or milk (for an extra dose of protein). It can also be added into baked goods, such as pancakes, waffles, and cakes, to give your favorite sweet treats a significant boost in pure protein.

Protein itself is composed of amino acids, which are essential for building muscle because amino acids are the building blocks of the body’s muscle fibers. When exercising at a high intensity — i.e weight training or strength training — your muscle fibers are physically tearing under the pressure of exercise. The formation of larger muscles, then, comes from the body’s repairing of these muscle fibers. The muscle fibers will interlace over one another to mend the tear, and what are those muscle fibers made out of? Proteins. So without a constant supply of protein shuttled toward the muscles throughout the day, the muscles cannot repair or grow.

image @ www.legionathletics.com

Protein powder is the quickest and easiest way to get protein directly to the muscles

 

after training. While it’s not wholly necessary and whole food sources such as lean meats, poultry, white fishes, and egg whites can be a great alternative to protein powders, these other foods also need to be broken down into the three macronutrients by the body. This breakdown slows the delivery of protein to the muscles. Alternative protein sources may also not be complete protein sources, or contain the full amount of amino acids the body needs to repair and grow muscle tissue. So while they will provide some benefit, they may not provide all of it. This can hinder muscle growth, even when you’re technically eating a good amount of protein per day.

Are There Better Protein Powders?

While there are no inherently bad protein powders, there are some that are better than others. Whey protein powders are milk-based proteins and have the quickest absorption rate of any type of protein, period. (This includes whole food sources and other forms of protein powders, such as pea and soy proteins.) The body absorbs 100% of whey proteins because it is a whole protein source or, again, it contains all the essential amino acids needed to repair and grow muscles.

When choosing a whey protein, always go for the isolate or concentrate. Whey

image @ www.legionathletics.com

Protein Isolates and Concentrates are specifically isolated whey proteins that are fast digesting and can be quickly broken down by the body.

Alternatively, whey protein blends, such as casein, are slow-digesting proteins that can take the body up to eight hours to completely break down. Casein proteins are better for bedtime, so that your body does not go into a catabolic state while you’re resting, but are awful directly after a workout. However, because casein proteins are still whey-based, they have the same high absorption rate by the body but at a much slower rate.

Other Components of Protein Powder

So what makes protein powder “healthy”?

Simply, it’s a clean protein source. Whey protein powders contain roughly 24g of protein per serving, which is more than a decent piece of chicken. It also has less than four grams of carbs per serving — although the typical serving has about 1-2g — and less than or equal to two grams of fat. This is also why whey proteins have such a great absorption rate: not only is it pure protein, but the body has no other components to break down. Instead, it can quickly be sent to the muscles that are in desperate need of growth and repair.

However, you shouldn’t ingest straight protein powder. The consistency ranges from grainy to pillowy soft powder, depending on the variety you purchase. (Imagine trying to swallow a mouthful of cinnamon.) Instead, protein powders can be mixed with water — the healthiest option! — or with milk for a quick, easy, and efficient post-workout shake. It’s claimed that protein should be consumed within thirty minutes to an hour of training, because that’s when the muscles are in highest need of a protein source for tissue repair.

image @ www.dailyburn.com

Alternatively, protein powders can be baked into goods by mixing into wet batters, such as pancakes, waffles, and cakes. However, this move is a bit riskier. Even though whey protein does have a high absorption rate, mixing the protein powder with other whole food sources, sugars, and liquids can delay when the body breaks the protein down. Remember, the body breaks down foods in the order of: fats, proteins, fiber, and then carbohydrates. If you’re mixing your proteins with your fats, the proteins will have to wait their turn.

The Absolute Healthiest Option

image @ www.ebayimg.com

For the most efficient and healthiest dose of protein, buy a tub of Whey Protein Isolate

or Concentrate from your local supplement store or online. Take one to two scoops — the maximum amount of protein the body can absorb at one time is still unknown, but men typically need more per day than women — and mix with water. Consume within an hour after training for maximum efficiency. And for taste? Your safest bet is always chocolate flavored whey.

Best Workouts for Abs To Get A Six Pack (Updated July 2019)

Best Workout for Abs

Abs are Shown in the Kitchen but Made in the Gym

Abdominals are shown in the kitchen but made in the gym. Against popular belief, the abdominals are like any other muscle group. Therefore, they need to be trained, rested and recovered like any other muscle. Training your abdominals every day will not get you abs — in fact, it may hinder them!

image @ www.doctorshealthpress.com

However, your abdominals are a collection of smaller muscles. These muscles can, therefore, be isolated and trained separately, and the recovery time for any one group is significantly less than your major muscles. Abdominals can be trained directly up to three times a week, every other day. They’re also indirectly trained through big lifts, such as the deadlift and squat. This is how abdominals are “made in the gym.”

To actually see your hard-earned six-pack, though, is where “shown in the kitchen” comes in. Typically, abdominals can only be seen at a strikingly low body fat percentage. For most people, this level of body fat is neither healthy nor maintainable year-round. But eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, good fats, and whole grains can help to make those little abdominal nuggets pop from time to time.

The Best Tactics — TUT

Okay, so you’re eating well. Now, how do you train your abdominals?

As I’ve said, abs are like any other muscle group. Training them requires more than hundreds of body weight crunches and thirty-second planks. Instead, your abdominal muscles require weighted tension — the same you’d apply to your legs or chest.

image @ www.seannal.com

The best tactic for building your abdominals is “time under tension.” Simply, Time Under Tension (TUT) is how long the muscle is underweighted strain during a set. The longer the TUT, the longer the muscle is active and contracting. And the longer the muscle is active, the more it can tear.

There are plenty of ways to increase TUT during a workout. The most effective way is to decrease your rest periods in between sets. This ensures that the muscle is generating enough energy to perform the next set, but not so much that it loses its contraction. Another way is to go until “failure”, or when your body physically cannot perform another repetition with good form. Both tactics are excellent ways for increasing TUT.

And since the abdominals are such a small muscle group, they can recuperate fairly quickly. This allows for shorter rest periods, enabling longer TUT.

The Best Exercises

I’m going to let you in on a secret: crunches don’t do much. They’re publicized everywhere because they’re easy and convenient. However, they also don’t supply much tension to the abdominals. There are better exercises that can increase TUT and decrease training time so that you’re not performing hundreds of crunches just to feel the burn.

Cable Crunches

I know what you’re thinking. I literally just said crunches don’t do jack squat, and now I’m saying do crunches. However, these crunches are performed with a cable and can add tens to hundreds of pounds of tension directly to the abdominals. They also target both the upper and lower abdominal regions, making them far superior to conventional crunches.

Perform the exercise by:

  1. Set a cable machine up with a rope attachment, and pin the appropriate weight.
  2. Grab the rope handles in both hands and place it behind your neck.
  3. Pull the rope down as you kneel about eight inches away from the cable. Keep your gaze pointed down and your back straight.
  4. Bring your elbows down to your thighs while keeping your back straight and core tight.
    1. Do not sink into your heels! This takes the pressure off the abs.
    2. Make sure to bring your elbows in so you can crunch your abdominals. Don’t just hinge at the hips!
  5. Slowly bring the rope back up to the kneeling position and repeat.
  6. Perform four sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Leg Raises

Leg raises are a great exercise to target the lower abdominals. The trick is to pull from the core, not the feet. Pulling your body up from the feet takes the pressure of the core entirely. Instead, you’re using the momentum of the feet to complete the movement. Make sure your core is tight as you pull your legs up — you’ll feel the burn for sure!

These can also be performed with ankle weights for an added boost.

Perform this exercise by:

  1. Lay flat on a mat or bench while holding onto a rail behind your head.
  2. Brace your core and pull your legs up until they’re perpendicular to the floor.
    1. Your feet should remain on your chest and not your head! Bringing your feet too far back will relocate the pressure to the upper back and not the core.
  3. Hold the upward position for a beat, then slowly lower your legs back down.
  4. Keep your feet an inch from the ground to ensure TUT, then repeat.
  5. Perform four sets of 10 repetitions.

Russian Twists

image @ www.fit-on.ru

Russian Twists are a great exercise for targeting the obliques, or the side abdominals. They can also be modified to fit multiple fitness levels. This adjustment can be made by raising or lowering the feet, which adds tension to the core. Work on your stability to progress to the harder levels! You can also hold a dumbbell for added tension.

Perform this exercise by:

  1. Sit on a mat with your legs bent at forty-five degrees, heels on the floor.
    1. To make it harder, take your heels off the floor until your shins are parallel to the mat.
  2. Lean back so that your body is at a forty-five-degree angle. Keep your back straight and your core tight!
  3. Either hold a dumbbell or clasp your hands into a ball in line with your mid-chest.
  4. Focus on an object in front of you so that your upper body doesn’t move. Then rotate your hands (or the dumbbell) from side to side. Try to bring your elbow to your hip.
  5. Hold the ending position for a beat, then slowly reverse back to the starting position and repeat on the other side. This is one repetition.
  6. Perform four sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Bicycle Crunches

image @ www.hiitacademy.com

I know, another crunch. And I also know that you’ve heard of these before. You’ve probably done them, too. But I can bet that you’ve also been doing them incorrectly.

The key with bicycle crunches is to perform the exercise slowly. You’re not Lance Armstrong riding a marathon, you’re trying to keep tension on your core. Performing the exercise too quickly takes that pressure off because form fails. Instead, move through each repetition slowly and feel the burn!

These can also be performed with ankle weights for an added boost.

Perform this exercise by:

  1. Lay flat on your back, hands laced behind your head.
    1. Don’t lace your fingers behind your neck! This causes it to strain upwards and put tension on your spine, not core.
  2. Draw your legs up until they’re at ninety degrees. Lift your chest and shoulder blades off of the floor.
  3. Slowly bring one elbow to the opposite knee without moving your upper back off of the floor.
    1. Pro tip: Make eye contact with something in front of you. This helps to prevent too much movement in the upper body!
  4. Slowly release back to the starting position, then repeat on the other side. This is one repetition.
  5. Perform four sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Hanging Leg Raise

Hanging leg raises are a bit more advanced than floor work because they require more core strength. It combines stability work with crunches, which definitely increases TUT.

These can be performed either on a pull-up bar for maximum stability or on an assisted hanging leg raise machine. You can also throw on ankle weights for an added boost.

Perform this exercise by:

  1. Place your arms on the machine pads and your back flat against the machine. Hold the handles to make sure you don’t move!
  2. Brace your core and bring your knees up to your chest.
    1. You can also perform an L-sit, where your legs remain parallel to the floor and ninety degrees to your body (see above photo).
  3. Hold the top of the movement for a beat, then release back down.
  4. For a full-on hanging leg raise, hold the handles of the pull-up bar. Perform the exercise in the same way but keep your upper body locked. Then release the feet back down to the starting position.
  5. Perform four sets of 10 repetitions.

 

Now, these are just some basic core exercises. The trick to training core is to make sure that you’re hitting all regions — upper, lower, middle, and the obliques. Training abs up to three times a week can help ensure this, as well as incorporating one movement for each muscle group.

A strong core is imperative. In fact, it’s your number one stabilizer. Big lifts — such as deadlifts and squats — can be hindered if you don’t have a strong core. So take the time to really focus on growing that foundation for not only that six-pack, for overall performance improvement!