Do you need protein powder to build muscle?

February 3rd, 2015

Walking into a gym today it seems everyone is drinking down some sort of mixture in the attempt to become as strong, big muscled and chiseled as they can.  Is this the only way to build muscle?  The answer all depends on you.  It depends on your goals, your genetics and your dedication.  So, really, it is a yes and no answer.  Here are a few points to help you decide.


The first records discussing “weight lifting” and “body building” was from the Greeks and Egyptians.  In other words, the act of building one’s muscles and strength has been around a long time.  In the 1880’s the “strongmen” of the freak shows took Europe by storm.  Displaying incredible acts of strength, these men had amazing upper body strength and beer guts.  Not exactly physically fit.  Around the same time though, came along the German, Eugen Sandow.  He was called the “Father of Modern Body Building”.  Basically he had muscles where the strongmen had bellies and he would let people come and admire his muscular physique.  (Sounds like some of the guys at the gym today).  From that point until the early 1950’s, there was no such thing as protein powder. So all the men following Eugen Sandow built their muscles the old fashioned way – they worked hard. These men were all about the muscle tone and being on display.  I do believe they would tremble in their shorts at the sight of some of today’s top bodybuilders.  So, this would seem to answer whether or not you need protein powder with a “no”.  Do not decide yet, though.  Read on.

Present Day

Honestly, if you look at photos of Eugen Sandow you would hardly be impressed.  His physique would hardly be considered muscular in today’s world.  13 year old boy physique comes to mind.  One has to wonder, though, if Eugen would have taken protein powder to enhance and enlarge his appearance.  I can guarantee to compete and stand out today, he would have had to. Today, technology, a more complete understanding of the human body and how it works has enabled body builders and weight lifters an advantage that guys like Eugen never had.  The ability to enhance your muscles naturally through the use of protein powder is quite an amazing feat.  Though powders have been around since the 1950’s, they were not a very scientific formula – more of a poke and hope kind of attitude.  Now, they are extremely specific with calculations for taking in account body weight, body fat percentages, and specific results.

The Advantages

In regards to protein powders, if you are using a pure whey protein powder like hydrolyzed whey, the benefits to you and your body are not limited to just muscle gain.  Pure whey protein is a complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids.  Amino acids are the body’s building blocks.  The health benefits go beyond just a protein boost.  And we are talking about the pure whey protein powder, not the flavored and filled powder.  The pure powder helps with added energy before a workout and aids in muscle recovery afterwards.  Whey protein is also being used in research involving diseases such as cancer, ALS, cystic fibrosis, and dozens of other applications.

Whey protein is 100% natural so it has no side effects.  It works with your body without causing harm or changing your body in a harmful way like steroids. Another major advantage is dietary.  Most people do not get enough protein as it is.  Protein powder can help bridge the gap.  If you are in training, time is not always on your side, The National Academy of Sports Medicine states:

“A protein powder can be used at those times when you do not have access to these foods or have the time to prepare and cook them. If protein foods are not your favorite and you tend to fall short on it in your diet, a powder can help you meet your needs. Protein powders tend to bring in fewer calories attached to the protein grams.”

And, as mentioned, you will get the protein you need with a lot less fat grams.  This is a supplement so most of your protein should come from whole lean foods like lean meat, eggs and chicken breasts.

Your Goals

Before deciding if protein powder is something you want to add to your workout plan, you need to figure out your goals.  You can become muscular without taking any protein powder.  You will still be able to gain muscle and get fit, that is not a problem if your goal is ultimately to just get fit.  If your goal involves getting your muscles to their maximum size or if body building or weight lifting competitions are in your future, you will need to start a protein powder routine.  The men and women in competitive bodybuilding and weightlifting all use supplemental powder to increase their mass, strength and tone.

Once you have figured out your goals, you can now make a well informed decision on whether or not you need a protein powder to meet those goals.  Be leery of any trainer who tells you otherwise.  If your goals are not to be a championship bodybuilder, do not get talked into taking something you do not want to.  If you do decide to start taking protein powder, look for the purest form – no additives or flavors. One good choice is from Optimum Nutrition 100% Natural Whey Gold Standard Protein. Prepare your body ahead of time to begin taking the protein.  Get in a schedule to include workout times and times when you will be eating whole foods.  This will help you decide when you will want to take your protein supplementation.

The ultimate answer to whether or not you have to take protein powder is a definite no.  No one has to take protein powder.  Just keep in mind your goals and whether or not you can meet those goals without supplementation.  Whatever you decide, as long it is with health and safety in mind, will be just fine.