Protein Powders (All You Ever Wanted to Know)

by Charles Poliquin |   Date Released : 04 May 2011
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Charles Poliquin

About the author: Charles Poliquin

Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world's most successful strength coaches, having coached Olympic medalists in 12 different sports including the US female track and field for the Olympics 2000. He has lectured extensively on practical and theoretical aspects of physical conditioning in eight different countries. Charles has also written over 500 articles for various web sites, magazines and journals and has published the following books: Modern Trends in Strength Training; Winning the Arms Race; The Poliquin Principles; The German Body Composition; and Manly Weight Loss. Charles has a B.Sc. in Kinesiology and an M.Sc. in Exercise Physiology.

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Comments (12)

Hammond, Heather | 23 Nov 2011, 22:44 PM

I'm curious about this paragraph:
'“Why use milk as a source for protein in the first place?” There are many good reasons. The first reason to use milk in protein powders is simply because it contains a lot of protein. Beef, chicken and eggs are considered very concentrated sources of protein, but just one cup of milk contains as much protein as one ounce of beef or chicken – whereas a whole egg contains 6.5 grams of protein.'

However, the protein density of milk seems to be less than than of chicken and beef.

One cup of milk = 8 oz
while 1 oz of beef or chicken

So if I have to consume 8 oz of milk to get the same amount of protein as 1 oz of beef or chicken, how does milk qualify as containing 'a lot of protein'? What am I missing?

Wilkes, Leslie | 09 Nov 2011, 09:31 AM

Lets not forget that Soy is a complete protein with a strong amino chain and Hemp is regarded as one of the strongest chains of amino, absolutely 100% worth using, in particular for vegan, vegetarian or lactose intolerants !

Sinitiere, Nick | 26 May 2011, 20:04 PM

Bloomfield, I made that comment about "junk" DNA, only as food for thought, not to prove a point about protein. I'm well aware of the role of amino acids and proteins in the genome, but I appreciate the lesson. I don't lean on those sources alone, as I too, as you state, like to think I objectively look at sources with "perspective". I'm die-hard nothing but a student of life and the universe. Yes, I've extensively read into Paul Chek's sources for myself, as well as recommended sources from individuals that span the continuum of "schools of thought". I appreciate that you're seemingly well read on issues of the human body, but it sounds like you have a bit of an axe to grind. Unfortunately knowledgable exercise professionals are few and far between in my estimation....that being said I can appreciate a good intellectual discussion/debate, but how about we don't resort to "measuring sticks". In light of my previous sentence, I didn't intend for my initial comment to come across as anything but iron sharpening iron.

Bloomfield, Anthony | 17 May 2011, 23:10 PM

Paul I really appreciate the humility in your response given the slightly conceited tone of my previous message. The truth is I have read your book, listened to your CD series, read loads of your articles, attended a live debate, purchased the prerequisites for exercise level 1, exercise coach, golf biomechanics and I have flown from Australia to the CHEK institute to attend one of your courses. Allow me to give you some feedback from a person who was once an avid follower but now evaluates all information, including your own, with perspective. Firstly, whilst I know you do not preach a rigid system in your books you must understand that when people attend your courses you are such an effective speaker that you captivate your audience to follow the principles you teach to the extreme and you engender a sense of disdain amongst these people for any other methods outside your teaching and whilst this may not necessarily be your objective this, in my experience, is the outcome. Secondly, the reason that I ask for references is that I may have the opportunity to evaluate for myself whether or not the information that you present is something that I should preach to my clients, they are not simply to cover for insecurities or to create a sense of credibility. I know that you have provided references in many of your works but over time I have become disillusioned when I review these references to find that there are flaws with study design, sample size or objectivity. It appears to me that you have at times developed a view point and then have sought out evidence to support your claims and the evidence has either had the aforementioned flaws or it contradicts that vast majority of the other research that is out there. I am sure you have pondered the purpose of your life and the legacy you would like to leave to the world and it appears to me that you lose focus at times. For example, if you truly wanted to push organic farming methods then there is a huge amount of credible evidence to support this point of view and you truly have the power to influence people to this way of thinking. However, when you start talking about whether monogamy is logical and claim that the use of tobacco is ok as you did in a recent course in Australia what you achieve is either brainwashed disciples or those who think of you as a complete wack job and it is this type of alienation that prevents you getting your message across to the number of people you need in order to create lasting, sustainable change. Relying on empirical evidence from sources such as Eugene Sandow or Weston A Price is fraught with bias and the extrapolation of things they say to suit your arguments can be misleading and frustrates people like me who do not just take your word at face value. Please do not take the next comment as patronizing but rather my honest opinion: If you have causes that you truly want to leave a lasting legacy for then formulate tighter arguments that appease a greater number of people and the net result will be a championing of your principles rather than resistance. I appreciate your engagement on a personal level and look forward to many more discussions in the future.

Chek, Paul | 16 May 2011, 21:30 PM

Dear Anthony,
First off, I DON'T have a rigid system. In my book "How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy!, I clearly state that I teach (and practice) the 80/20 rule, which means that if you life in accordance with the principles of health and well-being 80% of the time, you can generally enjoy living how you choose to 20% of the time without any significant detriment. Second, one need only look through the myriad of books still available that list strong man, strength, and athletic performances and records prior to 1945, which is largely the time at which chemical farming began as well as being a boom-point in time for processing of food stuffs. Next, one with any significant skill in the science of exercise and program design can easily look at the demands of the environment in which Viking warriors, Gladiators and the like were performing under. There is plenty of history written in this regard. From there, considering both physical and environmental demands, on can safely estimate demands. If you look at Eugene Sandows's books, you can get a sample of what I mean. Start with "Life Is Movement" by Eugene Sandow. This guy put up a 301 pound dumbbell with "ONE HAND" before the concept of performance nutrition was ever invented, including protein powders. Additionally, I come from a very comprehensive athletic background and have been competitive at the elite level in boxing and motto-cross. With adequate athletic diversity, and a knowledge of the science of movement and athletic training, studying what ancient athletes and warriors did from historical record makes it pretty easy to see the cross over relative to today's environment.
I think if you read my articles and books and attend my lectures, you will be hard pressed to find a guy that offers more references unless they are just being stacked up to create credibility where on is insecure of their professional position.
Finally, my concern with coaching people is that we use educational models that address the etiology of disease and poor performance. Taking pills because you are in too much a rush to actually "live" only fortifies a cultural disease that includes commercial farming of plants and animals. This behavior shouldn't be fortified and isn't when one has a functional knowledge of how life and the world work.
I hope that brings some clarity on my points.
More chi,
Paul Chek

Bloomfield, Anthony | 15 May 2011, 23:44 PM

Paul Chek, having read your book and listened to your CD’s, I love the way that you make bold statements and emphasize how much evidence there is to support your point of view without actually supplying any references. Please do tell where I can find the DEXA data from Viking warriors, Roman soldiers, or Gladiators that you obviously have which proves how amazing their body composition is compared to the athletes of today as well as their squat, deadlift and bench press data confirming their amazing strength. I think Charles summed up his article well when he states, “I recommend that the majority of your calories come from whole foods, but this is a fast-paced world, so meal replacements and protein powders have a place as convenient ways to ensure you receive the highest-quality nutrition.” Perhaps you could try incorporating more pragmatism into your approaches rather than rigid idealism and if you do want to preech the idealist path then perhaps you should have credible, objective, scientific research to support your point of view rather than relying on biased empirical evidence. Much Chi to you too Paul ;)

Chek, Paul | 14 May 2011, 15:54 PM

In regards to your comment to Anthony Bloomfield Charles, there is plenty of research suggesting that the average American (or Westerners at large) are getting much more protein in their daily diet than they need. Having consulted thousands of elite athletes myself, I can assure you that from my experience, most of them eat not only too much protein, but too much junk protein, including commercially raised animals. Additionally, to this day, every single athlete I took off their piles of supplements and protein powders felt "MUCH BETTER" switching to a whole food diet and making the necessary changes to improve (protein) "digestion".

Amino acids from junk protein sources, which largely includes processed products (with the exception of organic, properly extracted sources) are no better than the source material. Junk in = junk out! I highly doubt Viking warriors, Roman soldiers, or Gladiators lacked strength due to protein deficiencies, and there were no cans of protein powder floating around. If we study the history of human athletic endeavors, we find that man at large isn't progressing athletically. Take away the performance enhancement drugs and you may find that modern biochemistry only looks good on paper as a general theme.

Digestion doesn't begin in the stomach, it begins with choosing not using your mouth as a garbage can and making intelligent choices. If we are using pills to compensate for being confused about what sound diet really is, we are only supporting a failing industry.
Much chi,
Paul Chek

Chek, Paul | 14 May 2011, 15:35 PM

Nice article Charles!
For those interested in learning even more about whey protein supplements, I have a comprehensive article with additional useful information available for you at in the "Food For Thought" section under "Articles by Paul Chek". It is titled, "Whey Products: Supplement or Detriment?"

Lovely to see you getting more natural with your approach Charles!
Love and chi,
Paul Chek

Bloomfield, Anthony | 13 May 2011, 04:31 AM

Actually Nick Sinitiere your information is misleading and judging by the sources you recommend to support your point of view you must be a die hard Chekky. Whilst muscle building genes may be relatively small (although not that small when you consider the vast array of enzymes and other proteins that the body must produce), 100% of our genes code for proteins which are made from amino acids. If you don't consume an adequate amounts of amino acids then a lack of muscle growth may be the least of your worries. Protein powders are a convinient and efficient source for the average person. Perhaps you should review your first year university genetics and biochemistry textbooks rather than relying on subjective dribble to support your point of view.

Sinitiere, Nick | 09 May 2011, 22:11 PM

No doubt, you're versed on protein powders. However, I would suggest reading "biochemical individuality" (Roger J. Williams), "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" (Dr. Weston Price), and probably most importantly, "Pottengers Cat's" (Francis M. Pottenger). There are many factors in the equation of proper nutritional protocol, and protein in particular.
(interesting thought: only about 2-5% of our genome consists of "protein building" genes. If this doesn't blow your mind, your knowledge of DNA is lacking.)

Laser, Bill | 09 May 2011, 18:14 PM

Hi, A very interesting article. As a fitness instructor, beginners will ask me what I think about protein supplements, powders and so on, many believing them to be some magic route to muscle, fitness, and strength as if training was somewhat secondary to the whole process. In my own considered opinion, they are a convienient way of consuming protein, but are expensive and usually dried eggs and milk etc. ,so what's wrong with fresh eggs and milk at half the cost? And I think Genghis Khan and his army must have suffered c.h.d. with that saturated fat. As always, balance is the key, so let's not forget carbs, vitamins etc. It's not all about protein, which taken in excess has its own concerns in terms of excess calories. After all, a calorie is a calorie, you can have too many from any food group. Protein powders are a great marketing idea, but let's go for fresh every time!

Thurston, Sam | 05 May 2011, 22:28 PM

Great article! Very informative. Perhaps the next one could concern various protein digestion rates?

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