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  1. #1
    Registered User kdiamond55's Avatar
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    Do you absolutely have to use protein powder to gain muscle?

    It seems like all of the real fitness gurus use it. Personally I can't stomach the stuff.

    So I weigh 105 and I'm *trying* to put on about 5 pounds of muscle or so (we'll see how I do).

    I eat ~100-120 grams of protein a day (on the days I work out)...all through natural food. I consume about 1500-1600 calories a day. I eat a lot of egg whites, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, chicken, turkey and tuna. A little cheese too, and once a week lean red meat and tofu.

    Do I need to do the protein shake thing or can I wing it the natural way and still get nice cut muscles?

    I do about 35-45 minutes of weight training 3-4 times a week, lifting semi-heavy (at least, I think so). No machines really, maybe just the leg curl one, just barbells and dumbells. 20 minutes of cardio 5x a week.

    Advice for me? Thanks!!!
    Karen
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  2. #2
    Registered User Scott_W's Avatar
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    You don't need the shake. Hit your macros with whole foods and you'll see the same results. Monitor your weight weekly and up your calories depending on your weight gain.
    Last edited by Scott_W; 05-27-2010 at 09:16 AM.
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  3. #3
    achieved bro status discdoggie's Avatar
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    I realize this is not the ? you asked, but if you are wanting to gain muscle, you need to be eating more than 1600 calories a day.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Scott_W's Avatar
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    I think 1600 calories is a good start for her, see if you gain any weight this week and adjust calories accordingly from there.
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  5. #5
    Registered User andrerox80's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Scott_W View Post
    I think 1600 calories is a good start for her, see if you gain any weight this week and adjust calories accordingly from there.
    totally disagree. to gain, you need to eat above maintenance. 1600 is less than maintenance. op, see the sticky on calculating cals and macro's. as for protein powder, you absolutely do not need it. you seem to be getting enough protein w/ food, which is great, so you're totally fine. shakes are good b/c they're fast and convenient (and i find them yummy), but absolutely not essential, esp if you don't like them. g'luck.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Scott_W's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by andrerox80 View Post
    totally disagree. to gain, you need to eat above maintenance. 1600 is less than maintenance. op, see the sticky on calculating cals and macro's. as for protein powder, you absolutely do not need it. you seem to be getting enough protein w/ food, which is great, so you're totally fine. shakes are good b/c they're fast and convenient (and i find them yummy), but absolutely not essential, esp if you don't like them. g'luck.
    1600 is above her maintenance. From reading her post she wants to gain muscle, which is difficult and arguably impossible to do without gaining fat, so increasing calories slightly per week to find a suitable gain seems appropriate for OP.
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  7. #7
    Bulking freebirdmac's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kdiamond55 View Post
    It seems like all of the real fitness gurus use it. Personally I can't stomach the stuff.

    So I weigh 105 and I'm *trying* to put on about 5 pounds of muscle or so (we'll see how I do).

    I eat ~100-120 grams of protein a day (on the days I work out)...all through natural food. I consume about 1500-1600 calories a day. I eat a lot of egg whites, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, chicken, turkey and tuna. A little cheese too, and once a week lean red meat and tofu.

    Do I need to do the protein shake thing or can I wing it the natural way and still get nice cut muscles?

    I do about 35-45 minutes of weight training 3-4 times a week, lifting semi-heavy (at least, I think so). No machines really, maybe just the leg curl one, just barbells and dumbells. 20 minutes of cardio 5x a week.

    Advice for me? Thanks!!!
    No, whole food is fine. However you will go nowhere with your current diet and workout plan. You need at least 2000 cals a day, 40% from protein, ditch all that cardio, and lift heavy! You will not put on much if any fat. You may have some bloating as you bring your cals up but that will resolve. Your maintenance is around 1900.
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  8. #8
    Bulking freebirdmac's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Scott_W View Post
    1600 is above her maintenance. From reading her post she wants to gain muscle, which is difficult and arguably impossible to do without gaining fat, so increasing calories slightly per week to find a suitable gain seems appropriate for OP.
    On what planet? 1600 is a leaning out caloric intake for her stats.
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  9. #9
    Registered User kdiamond55's Avatar
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    Thank your for the advice, although I'm pretty sure my maintenance has been 1400ish...that's the average of what I had been eating for the last 4-5 years, I just upped it to 1600 to see how it goes.

    I am very small framed (think overlapping fingers on wrist), so I think I am one of the ones who sustains on less. (Trust me I'm not starving ) I just generally eat healthy so that is what fills me up! Problem in the past has been, if I up my calories I gain fat so easily, so I am nervous and hope I go about this the right way. 5 pounds more (of fat I am assuming) has looked terrible on me, but that was when I wasn't lifting much anyway.

    Also, how much weight gain should I see weekly? To know I am going about this the right way...thanks!
    Karen
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  10. #10
    Gettin' back up again Rowyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by freebirdmac View Post
    No, whole food is fine. However you will go nowhere with your current diet and workout plan. You need at least 2000 cals a day, 40% from protein, ditch all that cardio, and lift heavy! You will not put on much if any fat. You may have some bloating as you bring your cals up but that will resolve. Your maintenance is around 1900.
    ^^This.

    Of course, if you KNOW that your body currently maintains at a lower level, then that is adjustable. But if you are lifting heavy and trying to grow, you will need to eat above that.

    I don't know what "semi-heavy" lifting means...are you progressing in strength and increasing weights? If you are working semi-heavy, then you will see semi results, lol. Not trying to sound snide, just making a joke. Srsly, though, you have to put in the sweat equity with lifting to grow, and eat enough to support that growth.

    From what I have learned, as long as you are getting enough protein, you don't need protein powders. Some people have a hard time eating enough whole foods to meet their requirements, or they are just busy and like the convenience of the powders.
    "A champion is someone who gets up even when he can't" ---Jack Dempsey

    I eat for living, not just lifting.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Amanda76's Avatar
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    I eat mostly whole foods. I only use protein supplements for the sake of convenience or if I'm just wanting something different. I always keep some on hand, but will go for months without using it. I used to weigh just 5 pounds more than you and since then I've put on quite a bit of muscle with very few periods of time where I've used protein powder regularly.

    My fingers overlap my wrist, too...hasn't made my caloric need any less than the average person's. It falls pretty much in line with what Harris-Benedict formula predicts for caloric need based on sex, height, weight and age + activities.

    Someone with your stats should be able to maintain eating 1,900-ish calories, if you're moderately active (put forth real effort at the gym more days of the week than not). If you don't/can't put forth much effort at the gym, 1,700 would be the low end. It'd be my guess that you shrank to 105 eating 1,400 and never bumped your cals back up to maintenance. Your body, wanting to maintain a body composition it's comfortable with, basically stalled out further weight loss since the "famine" you willingly put it through apparently wasn't going to come to an end.

    My suggestion would be to bump your calories up to what should be maintenance at first, realizing there's going to be some weight fluctuation involved. Let your body settle into it for a few weeks. After that, aim to gain an average of 1/4-1/2 pound per week if you want to minimize fat gains. Note that I said "minimize." You will go through times you feel fatter and times you feel tighter as you put on muscle. Judge your gains on the basis of average gained over 4-6 weeks. If you've gained a lot more than you wanted (and there's no explaination for it like TOM or bloating from something you ate a day or two before), back off on the cals. If your weight hasn't changed, bump them up. Remember what your focus is though so you're not so conservative in your surplus as to keep you from having the gains you should have.
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  12. #12
    Registered User Amanda76's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Rowyn View Post
    ^^This.

    Of course, if you KNOW that your body currently maintains at a lower level, then that is adjustable. But if you are lifting heavy and trying to grow, you will need to eat above that.

    I don't know what "semi-heavy" lifting means...are you progressing in strength and increasing weights? If you are working semi-heavy, then you will see semi results, lol. Not trying to sound snide, just making a joke. Srsly, though, you have to put in the sweat equity with lifting to grow, and eat enough to support that growth.

    From what I have learned, as long as you are getting enough protein, you don't need protein powders. Some people have a hard time eating enough whole foods to meet their requirements, or they are just busy and like the convenience of the powders.
    Eating 1,400 calories, "semi-heavy" might be pretty close to max-capacity. My perception of how good I felt, how strong I was and all kinds of good stuff changed when I started feeding my body properly.

    Kdiamond, you WILL have to lift HEAVY for your weight gain to go the direction you want.
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  13. #13
    Registered User kdiamond55's Avatar
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    Yes, for those asking, I did lower to 1400 to get to the weight I am now. I was 125-ish after I had my last baby. I looked very chubby at this weight. I store all of my fat on my hips and thighs, as do most ladies. My mom and sister are both very small as well, and my dad is very thin.

    Lifting heavy, for me, I have lifted heavier in the last 4 weeks than ever before. I do bicep curls with 25-35lb ez curl bars, triceps and shoulder presses with 15lb dbs, squats and lunges with 15lb dbs, deadlifts with 35lb bars. I am sore afterwards, so I would assume this is what my body can handle at this point in time. Before I did a lot of cardio and very light weights. It has progressed too, I started with 10lbs 4 weeks ago...I have noticed strength. In fact I posted a pic from Friday in my progression photos which will show I am definitely not anorexic or anything. I wear a size 3-5, so nothing extreme.

    I will probably get a trainer at some point to get further. I was just kind of biding my time and seeing what I could do by myself. I am not looking to compete or anything of that nature, I just like to push myself to look better and better as I get older and older.

    [Judge your gains on the basis of average gained over 4-6 weeks.]

    Thank you for this info, just what I was looking for!
    Karen
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  14. #14
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    Originally Posted by kdiamond55 View Post
    Thank your for the advice, although I'm pretty sure my maintenance has been 1400ish...that's the average of what I had been eating for the last 4-5 years, I just upped it to 1600 to see how it goes.

    I am very small framed (think overlapping fingers on wrist), so I think I am one of the ones who sustains on less. (Trust me I'm not starving ) I just generally eat healthy so that is what fills me up! Problem in the past has been, if I up my calories I gain fat so easily, so I am nervous and hope I go about this the right way. 5 pounds more (of fat I am assuming) has looked terrible on me, but that was when I wasn't lifting much anyway.

    Also, how much weight gain should I see weekly? To know I am going about this the right way...thanks!
    I got my body used to eating 1200 calories.. which I assumed was my maintenence. Not!! I'm maintaining on close to 2000 now. And I'm small boned too
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  15. #15
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    You have killed your metabolism. I'm small framed also, much, older, hypo, and menopausal. You should not accept this cal level. Bring them up by 100 a week until you reach 2000. That is the way the start the process of fixing your metabolism. Since you have been under eating for so long, it can take awhile. But! You should get some nice muscle gains with minimal fat gains. The sooner you get it through your head that your metabolism is messed up the sooner you can work toward your goals. I've been there. Amanda has been there.
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  16. #16
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Whey and casein are milk proteins. Protein powder is just dehydrated milk. Just drink the milk.

    There are two reasons for protein powder. The first is that some people find it physically difficult to eat enough food to give them that much protein. You can easily eat four big scoops of protein powder in water a day, but a pound of steak is a bit harder to munch on.

    First try eating food. That way you get the protein, but also lots of vitamins and minerals.

    The second reason is that it seems our bodies grow better by having some carbs and protein immediately around and during a workout than if we have the same amount of carbs and protein at breakfast and dinner. It seems that having some carbs and protein in our bodies when we work out helps us work harder, and having some in our bodies immediately after the workout, the stuff is just more likely to help us grow more muscles.

    But many people can't work out on a full stomach, and many don't have much appetite immediately after a workout, or have to drive home or something and won't have a chance to eat for an hour or so. A drink's convenient and quick. Thus, protein powders mixed with some carb source are good to have immediately before and after a workout.

    No need to buy the expensive protein powders, just buy milk powder, eggs, egg powder, and drink milk.
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  17. #17
    Registered User kdiamond55's Avatar
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    Thank you for the advice. I know my metabolism is stalled, I have known but not really cared in the past. Now that I want more defined muscle, I am realizing I need to fix it.

    I will start with adding 100 calories (daily) for a week and see where that takes me. I'll keep track of my weight accordingly, and adjust my routine (take away some of the cardio, not that I do much but I could use the time to lift instead). I am going to do it through food and not powders.

    Thank you, I really appreciate the advice, and like to know it's been done here before under the same (or close to same) circumstances, gives me reassurance.
    Karen
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