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Growing popularity of protein supplements for bodybuilding reflects the success of sport supplement business. In every gym around the world you will see big (and not so big) guys constantly sipping from the bottles of protein shakes.
Many self-respecting gyms sell the protein-rich stuff in the form of bars and drinks right on the spot, charging premium for already overpriced products. And overpriced they are: reputable sport supplement or healthy food shops would charge around $30 per kilogram of whey protein claiming it to be a huge saving and remarkable value for money.
Any product that is claimed to deliver improvements in comparison with standard whey protein can cost significantly more (by this I mean several times more). Lots of effort is put into the marketing campaign: the packages of protein supplements have appealing sexy design, and the names like Maximuscle, Muscle Fortress and MuscleTech do sound attractive and promising, particularly for a younger and less experienced crowd.
How real are the benefits of proteins?
This question is not so easy to answer.
They vary from well-known things such as creatine to testosterone boosters to things more exotic such as ecdysterone (hormone derived from insects). Which of them contributes the most to the athletes muscle growth remains just a guess.
Another phenomenon, particularly common among the beginners, is that they tend to exercise much more in those periods when they are taking supplements. Again, in these circumstances, it is difficult to establish which part of success in the muscle growing was attributed to the supplements, and which to the simple hard work.
Sceptical point of view
Being a regular gym visitor, I have tried plenty of protein supplements myself. The result was confusing – I didn’t see much in terms of accelerated muscle growth. At least I couldn’t say that any improvement that I achieved were clearly attributed to the protein supplementation.
After trying many branded types of proteins I have eventually decided to adhere to the natural protein-rich diet. Paying extra bucks for nice packages of whey simply didn’t work for me. This was also the experience of many other fellow gym goers. Eating sufficient amount of high quality low fat meat every day seems to provide pretty much the same final results to me (in addition to saving money and avoiding digestive discomfort).