By Maureen Lim
Building muscles isn’t just about the number of hours you spend grunting at the machines in the gym. Muscle recovery is just as important in your muscle building regime. And it’s just as important for the occasional runner as it is for the bodybuilder.
What may surprise you is that your recovery process is affected not only by rest but also by what your consume after your workout. Protein plays a major role in helping sore muscles heal, and the type, quantity, and pace of protein consumption all play a part in aiding your muscle recovery. For some, consuming copious amounts of skinless chicken breast meat and egg white will do the trick. However, fast-paced lifestyles and expensive produce in Japan are motivation to seek effective alternatives.
Whey protein concentrate vs Whey protein isolate
Alternatives include shakes that use whey protein in Japan. Whey, a by-product of cheese production, is rich in amino acids, which promotes muscle recovery and growth. Dairy manufacturers collect the whey and purify it to form whey protein concentrate, used in many formulations. Whey protein concentrate is further processed to form whey protein isolate, which is more rapidly absorbed by the body.
Ask yourself these questions to decide whether whey concentrate or whey protein isolate is right for you:
- What is my budget?
Whey protein isolate is more processed than whey concentrate and thus more expensive. You may wish to try whey concentrate for a month to assess results before investing in whey protein isolate.
- What is my goal?
Both are good sources of protein. If your goal is simply to build muscles then whey concentrate might just do the job. If you aim to build muscles and lose weight, whey protein isolate is a purer protein source with less carbohydrates. This will certainly make a difference to those who are counting calories. However, the increased processing for whey protein isolate means that a lot of the health benefits from consuming dairy is lost.
- Do I have any allergies?
Whey is essentially a dairy product so those who are more sensitive to dairy may experience bloating and gas as a result. As such, whey protein isolate will be more helpful as it contains the highest concentration of protein without the bioactive compounds in dairy. You may also want to look into alternative protein sources.
Best bang for the buck
If none of the above matter to you, then here is a simple way to calculate which brand will deliver the most amount of protein per serving. Take the grams of protein per serving and divide it by the serving size (in grams) to give you the percentage of protein in each serving. The percentage of protein per serving (or scoop) should be 80% or greater for a good quality whey protein powder. For example, if a whey protein powder provides 20 grams of protein per 25-gram scoop, that protein powder is 80% protein and is a great whey protein for the money.
For optimum muscle recovery, get a protein boost an hour after your workout. There are those who insist having a protein shake just before bedtime aid muscle recovery whilst you sleep. Including eggs, bacon or even yoghurt at breakfast, the morning after your workout.
Remember that there are varied sources of protein that you can easily include in your diet. Whey protein in Japan may be a convenient source but it need not be the only supplement to your exercise regime. Having dairy or soy milk with your meal instead of juice, including cheese and a form of meat in your salad or sandwich, are both ways you can ensure your body has enough protein throughout the day. Remember, an enjoyable and sustainable regime will ensure the quickest and best results!
When shopping for whey protein in Japan
You may not be able to find the brands you’re used to seeing at home here, but not to worry. Japanese domestic brands are well known for using high quality ingredients and premium formulations that are scientifically validated. There are also specific key words that you should be looking for that hint at the quality of the product. Refer to our key word cheat sheet below to be able to scan ingredient lists effectively so you can make the choice that is in your best interests.
- Whey Protein – 乳漿蛋白 or ホエイプロテイン(Nyūsei tanpakushitsu)
- Whey protein isolate – 乳清タンパク質単離 or ホエイプロテインアイソレート (Nyūsei tanpakushitsu tanri)
- Whey protein concentrate – 乳清タンパク質濃縮物 (Nyūsei tanpakushitsu nōshuku-mono)
- Whey protein hydrolysate – 乳清タンパク質加水分解物 (Hoei tanpakushitsu kasui bunkai-mono)
- Calcium caseinate – カゼインカルシウム (Kazeinkarushiumu)
- micellar casein – ミセルカゼイン (Miserukazein)
- Maltodextrin – マルトデキストリン (Marutodekisutorin)
- Carbohydrate – 炭水化物 (Tansuikabutsu)
- Fat – 脂肪 (Shibō)