By Matt Evans
If you've ever looked at building muscle in a serious way, you've likely bought (or thought about buying) protein powder along with the best adjustable dumbbells and best resistance bands. However, with so many different brands, each with a whole range of different products, you might have felt a bit intimidated by the sheer variety of companies and ingredients used.
But protein powder is, at its core, just an easy way to help you tone up and build muscle. If you're looking to add this workout staple to your kitchen, save yourself some money with our roundup of the best Black Friday protein deals.
When we do resistance training, such as push ups and lifting weights, we actually damage our muscles by causing small "tears" in them. Over time, these small tears knit together and build back up stronger, which is how our muscles grow. But in order for this process to work effectively, our muscles need protein, long-chain amino acid molecules which are part of most of our body's cells.
The journal Nutrients says "consuming adequate dietary protein is critical for maintaining optimal health, growth, development, and function throughout life". Too little protein, and our muscles are unable to maintain their health and grow weak, undergoing a process known as atrophy.
If you're taking part in a resistance training programme, you need more than the average minimum requirement. This is where protein powder comes in: if it becomes too difficult, or too expensive, to get enough protein into your everyday diet, a protein shake is an easy solution. They're usually pretty healthy too, curbing your appetite while providing your muscles the protein hit they need.
Scientists writing in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition found "there is robust evidence which shows that consuming protein pre- and/or post-workout induces a significant rise in muscle protein synthesis."
If you have to fit the gym in at some point during your day, and your next meal is still a few hours away, protein powder is a great way to provide your muscles with a quick hit to aid your recovery.
There's a few different ways to get started: if you're just looking for a great all-round product, our guides on the best protein powder for weight loss and the best protein powder for women are a great place to start. These guides will walk you through what to look for, including a list of recommendations for protein powders which are low in carbohydrates while being high in protein content.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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