By Sarah Rajkovich
Are protein supplements really necessary for baseball players?
To be honest, I am a neophyte in the world of protein – and let me tell you, it is a vast world, indeed. Do you even know how many different types of protein a player can choose from? The amount of protein supplements available amazed me. Is there really even that big of a difference between all these protein supplements? The prices of these protein supplements can get quite outrageous as well. After all these supplements could just as well be a huge rip-off.
Recently, on a trip to my local GNC I was browsing through the store’s assortment of protein supplements. I became overwhelmed just looking at all protein supplements: whey, soy, casein, and the list went on. Then I was left the choice of flavor, premade, powder, bulk buy. How in the world does someone even choose the right protein supplement for his or her needs when there’s so many to choose from? The salesman convinced me that I needed, of course, one of the most expensive supplements. Did this salesman even have my needs in mind? Or was he just trying to make the biggest profit he could off me?
Before choosing a protein supplement a player needs to know what exactly they’re using it for, besides trying to look like a serious body builder. Nowadays at the gym it seems close to every man in the gym carries a blender cup filled with a protein drink. I am beginning to think that many people who consume these protein drinks have no clue what in world they’re drinking, and why they’re even drinking this “bodybuilder drink.”
I think it is important before any player decides they want to start taking their workout to the next level with some protein needs to do their research first. Aside from all the types of protein, they all help a workout in different ways. Protein can help build and repair muscle, among many other functions.
Most baseball players probably don’t know the difference between each type of protein supplement, and that there’s so many to choose from. Baseball players can benefit from protein not only if they’re weightlifting off the field, but also after a game to help prevent muscle breakdown and repair muscle damage after a tough day on the field.
After doing some research on protein supplements, GNC may not have been trying to profit the most from me, the unknowing customer. It turns out that whey protein is the most common type of protein used. Whey protein is also most readily absorbed by the body in comparison to the other types of protein out on the market. The protein the salesman had convinced me to buy may have been the most expensive, but you pay for what you get. Whey protein is the most readily absorbed protein supplement, which means that the body benefits most from this supplement choice. Casein, egg, and soy protein are the three other common types of protein that can be found on the shelves. Casein protein is similar to whey protein, although it is absorbed more slowly throughout the body. Soy protein is a type of protein that is mainly just used by vegetarians and those allergic to milk. Juiced up egg whites is what can be found in egg protein.
Nutritional supplements in general are to be used for those who lack that certain nutrient, vitamin, or mineral and need to use that supplement to make up for that lack. Therefore, protein supplements should be used for those who do not consume enough protein in their diet right? Well, what if you knew before you purchased a protein supplement that that most Americans, and those who live in developed countries as well, already tend to consume enough protein on a daily basis. Not only do most Americans consume enough protein as it is, but excess protein is also stored as fat in the body.
In addition to consuming too much protein and having it stored as fat, protein supplements are really no better than the protein you can consume in the foods you eat. If you can consume protein in foods then why is it necessary to supplement your diet with some extra protein found on a shelf? This extra protein can help recovering athletes, and athletes building up muscle among many other functions.
Before investing in some extra protein, it is important for a player to know how much they really need. I doubt that an athlete would invest in some protein if only in the end they gained some fat, and no muscle. The dietary allowance recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for most adults. Endurance athletes should increase their protein consumption to the range of 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram. If a ball player is looking to increase their strength they should increase their protein consumption to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight.
As I mentioned above entering a nutritional store to find the right supplement can be quite overwhelming. When choosing a protein supplement what can you expect to find on the shelves? There are collagen-based supplements that usually have a juice-like quality. These drinks usually are a clear liquid, and can be frozen as well into high protein popsicles. These popsicles could serve as quite the protein-packed summer snack! Additionally, there are shakes, which are thicker and sometimes are made from milk. Protein powders can also me mixed into various liquids and foods. More commonly you can also pick up a punch of protein in the form of what looks like a candy bar. These bars tend to have a mix of various types of protein.
It is important to make sure you choose some protein that is a complete source. A complete source means that the supplement contains all nine essential amino acids. The body cannot make these essential amino acids, but the body requires them to perform regular functions. Whey, casein, soy, and egg based protein supplements are complete, and contain all of the essential amino acids. As opposed to collagen based protein, which lacks some of these essential amino acids.
Baseball players look to protein supplements to improve their game, but they should be careful these supplements are helping and not hurting them. The nutritional label of these supplements is very important. After all, the government does not regulate protein supplements before they make it onto the store shelves. You’d be surprised at what is found in some protein supplements. You might wonder after reading the label why a protein supplement contains coffee extract, or cocoa, among many other ingredients besides the actual protein.
All in all, protein supplements can be a good addition to a baseball player who is actively trying to gain some muscle mass and become a stronger player. Protein supplements aren’t an overnight fix to waking up to big muscles. Although, taking a protein supplement will add some fuel to the fire of a player who is working hard in the weight room. Hard work and dedication is what makes a player stronger. Adding some protein to the diet, can give a player’s muscles some fuel to gain muscle, if they are working hard to gain that muscle. No matter how much money you spend, more protein alone won’t make those guns any bigger!
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