protein pills

Protein Pills: Benefits, Uses & Comparisons

Best Protein Pills by Protein Content

There are a huge number of protein pills on the market. The following is a list of some of the more highly rated pills.

What Are Protein Pills & What Are They Made Of?

Protein pills or tablets are dietary supplements available over the counter that provide additional protein to your diet. Weightlifters, athletes, and bodybuilders use them to build muscle. They’re also sometimes recommended by medical professionals to patients who don’t get enough protein from their diet for one reason or another. They can be used to gain mass (muscle), or to lose weight by providing a source of lean protein.

Recommended: Top 10 Best Protein Flavors by Optimum Nutrition

The most common protein pills are made with whey protein powder, beef liver, soy protein isolates, or other complete proteins. Other protein pills are formulations of the essential amino acids (the amino acids that the body can’t make on its own), or branch-chained amino acids (BCAA). You may see labels that say “predigested protein” – that’s sales-speak for amino acids.

Protein pills may contain concentrated proteins or isolates. To make concentrated protein, manufacturers remove everything that’s not protein from the food that they’re using as a source. The result isn’t pure protein – more like 70 to 85 percent, with the rest being carbohydrates and fat. Processing this concentrated protein further produces an isolate, which is closer to 95% pure protein.

Many manufacturers add extra essential vitamins and minerals to their pills. You may see them called “cofactors” or “co-factors” on the label. Cofactors are chemicals (usually vitamins and minerals) that combine with proteins or amino acids to make them work effectively. Protein pills may also contain proprietary blends of other substances such as bitter melon or green coffee bean extracts. Proprietary blends are mixtures that don’t disclose specific amounts because they’re considered trade secrets. Protein pills that contain blends of amino acids are also usually proprietary blends, so you don’t know how much of each amino acid you’re getting. That’s not a bad thing, though.

Manufacturers may also add sweeteners like honey to make pills that are in tablet form go down easier.

How Do Protein Pills Work?

When you work out, especially when lifting, your muscle fibers suffer tiny tears. (We’re not talking about serious strains, pulls, or tears.) When the muscles rebuild themselves, they grow and end up stronger than before. One key element in this rebuilding is amino acids. Protein itself is made up of these amino acids, so protein pills and other protein supplements aid in rebuilding and growing muscle.

How to Use Protein Pills

Different brands and types of protein pills contain different amounts of protein, so read the instructions on the label, which will tell you how many pills to take how many times a day. One issue with using pills instead of powders or other forms of protein supplementation is that the manufacturer can pack only so much protein into a capsule or tablet. A typical whey tablet, for example, may only contain one gram of protein, so you’re going to need to take multiple tablets to get a decent amount of protein. Timing is important, too. Many guys take supplements both pre-workout and post-workout. A general rule of thumb is to take your pills two hours before a workout. Because the pills are usually pretty big, you’ll need to wash them down with plenty of fluids of your choice. Some tablets are chewable, which makes things a lot easier. The manufacturer may recommend taking protein pills with food.

Using Protein Pills to Gain Weight & Muscle

Protein pills are a good way to gain weight without getting fat. They’re made of low fat protein. One thing to watch out for is that they do add calories to your diet, and these extra calories can either end up packing on fat or packing on muscle – which one is going to depend on the rest of your diet and workout routine. Diet usually plays a bigger role in the equation, so it may be worth consulting a nutritionist or other health professional to go over your diet plan and see if you’re good to go or if it needs tweaking. If you’re bulking or wanting to gain weight, then the extra calories are a help.

Muscle can only be added with resistance training of some kind, not cardio. As we said before, training with weights or other resistance causes muscle damage on a micro scale. Dietary protein is what repairs the muscle tears, and supplements like protein pills give you a little extra insurance beyond what you’re already getting in your diet.

Protein Pills vs. Protein Powder

Whether you choose protein pills or protein powder is going to be matter of personal preference. Each has its advantages.

Protein pill benefits include being easy to carry around. A bottle fits nicely in your workout bag, or you can just bring the amount you need. They don’t taste like anything. Even if some of them resemble horse pills, it still takes a lot less liquid to swallow them than it does to dissolve powder, and you don’t need to lug a shaker along with you. You also don’t have to do any measuring or mixing. Protein powders have a lot more calories than protein pills, so unless you’re bulking, it’s probably better to stick with the pills.

Protein powder almost always has more protein in it, in an easily digestible format. It’s faster acting because your body doesn’t have to digest the capsule or pill coating before getting to the good stuff. And no horse pills. Some powders can taste pretty bad, and you might have to try a few before you find one that suits your taste, but it’s a lot easier to get a shake down than it is to swallow capsules or pills.

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