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I'm about 5'10" 175 lbs doing the Insanity workout, and have been doing it for about a month and half. I don't want to "get big", I want to get cut. Is there any benefit to taking a whey protein shake after my workout, or is it overrated? I have never tried it.

(Here is the protein I'm currently eyeing: GNC Whey Protein Platinum)

I've always been skeptical of supplements in general. My gut feeling is to simply adjust my diet and eat better/take in more protein naturally (fish, chicken, etc). However, there's no doubt that adding a protein shake is a lot easier than changing one's eating habits; whether it has any benefit, however, is why I'm here.

So whey or nay? Does adding a whey protein shake after an intense cardio workout have any benefit? Will it be beneficial in getting toned, or not really?

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You eat at a calorie deficite to cut. The "composition" of you calories (Protein/carbs/fat) is adjusted for certain goals but generally more protein is better. –  Darcys22 May 23 '13 at 6:38
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

In order to get big, you need to eat a calorie surplus (more than you burn in a day). To get cut, you need to eat a caloric deficit. If you eat 200g+ protein but still eat fewer calories than you're burning, you're going to lose weight and you won't get huge and bulky.

If you're trying to get cut, I'm assuming that you're trying to lose weight and/or lower bodyfat. This makes sufficient protein intake even more important. If you're eating a deficit you're always going to lose some fat and muscle. If you don't eat enough protein, a bigger percentage of that loss will be muscle. If you eat sufficient protein and strength train, you can minimize muscle loss.

It's often stated that you should aim for about 1g/lb body weight in protein. It's certainly not absolutely necessary, but I've definitely noticed better performance in the gym and more progress when I hit that goal. It's really hard to eat that much protein in "real food" though; You'd have to eat several chicken breasts every day, which is why some people opt for a scoop of whey.

Bottom line: supplements are meant for just that: to SUPPLEMENT your diet, not replace it. If you're providing yourself with good nutrition and want to optimize your muscle gain / fat loss, it can be beneficial to take some whey.

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Okay, I think I'm reasonably convinced. That said... for my situation, do I want whey protein, casein protein, or both? –  MikeS May 23 '13 at 16:01
    
here's an article about it - bodybuilding.com/fun/satternorton.htm I like whey, just because I tend to like to drink my protein shakes right after workouts. I've heard casein is good for an evening snack before bedtime (because it's slow digesting and can help minimize muscle loss during sleep or fasting). –  jennyli Jun 21 '13 at 20:42
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Well, cardio can be considered a resistance workout if you think in terms of the muscles that are being worked (diaphragm, legs, abs, etc), and with any exercise program typically you want to shoot for .75-1g/per pound of bodyweight of protein daily. I've seen this number vary and even given in kg for similar quantities, but the closer to 1g/lb you can get the better, I've seen results that way.

The problem is, it's very difficult to get that quantity of protein on a daily basis using natural foods alone. That's where the whey comes in. Taking a protein supplement won't get you big, especially if you're just lifting weights, but it will help to build/maintain the muscle you need to do your cardio workouts, and may even replenish a small amount of the muscle you're burning off with the cardio (keyword is maybe).

Whey or ney is up to you, but I will tell you when I'm doing any serious training, cardio, strength, or a hybrid of the two, my day includes whey. As for servings stay away from making that you're sole source of significant protein on any given day. Personally I don't go over 50g/day and derive the other 150+g (I'm a growing boy....) from foods such as peanut butter, chicken, tuna/other fish, eggs, and maybe one or two other foods that escape me at the moment.

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I'm not a fan of Whey protein for one primary reason: 30 minutes later and I'm hungry. It just doesn't stick with you, and you find yourself looking to snack on something too soon. That's bad for cutting fat. In fact, the more quickly you absorb the protein the more quickly your body is done with it. Fast in, fast out. That's why the highly micronized, easily absorbed protein supplements aren't good for cutting fat.

Best Option: Get all your protein from real food. It's not as hard as you might think. 2 decent sized chicken breasts will give you 100g of protein alone.

Alternatives

If, after doing the math, getting all the protein you need will cause you to eat more food than you can lose weight with you'll need to supplement.

2nd Best Option: Use meal replacements for one or two of your meals. MetRx is an example manufacturer of a Meal Replacement Packet (MRP). One of their MRPs provides 38g of protein with only 250 Calories. MRPs provide both a blend of proteins and several micronutrients your body needs.

3rd Best Option: Use a protein complex which has protein from different sources in a blend. Example products include Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex or Syntrax Matrix protein poweders. They include whey, egg, and other proteins in a blend which will stay with you longer helping control hunger.

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What about casein protein? This is supposed to take ~7 hours to digest instead of the super short time for whey protein. –  MikeS May 23 '13 at 18:17
    
I agree, when mixing with water there's little to no carbs in good quality whey protein (and there shouldn't be), so you will be hungry quick. I am a firm advocate of mixing with almond milk for a nice MRP. Speaking of MRPs, I haven't seen too many on the market that aren't saddled with buckets of sugar, which is BAD for cutting. –  BigHomie May 23 '13 at 18:31
    
@MikeS, that should work as well. The protein complexes usually have casein in the mix. –  Berin Loritsch May 23 '13 at 19:06
    
Did you check out MetRX? myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/… –  Berin Loritsch May 23 '13 at 19:09
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