Gone are the days where protein powders were used exclusively by bodybuilders.  These days protein supplements are used by anyone from casual health and fitness fans right through to professional athletes.  Anyone wanting to maximise workout, training or diet results or gain a competitive advantage will be using a protein supplement to ensure they get enough to support their body’s needs.

Read on for some essentials about protein and protein powder:

  1. Protein's roles in your diet
  2. How much protein to take
  3. Protein sources compared
  4. Choosing the best protein powder for your needs
  5. How and when to take protein

(Plus, a handy glossary of technical terms).

1. The different roles of protein in your diet

When you think of protein the first thing to come to mind might be “muscles” but protein is vital for almost every function in the body.  True protein deficiency is rare in the western world but it is important to get enough, as the body will take what it needs to keep you alive first before sparing extra for what it considers non-essential processes, like building new muscle tissue.


Muscle Repair

Protein plays a very important part in recovery, muscle gain, and fat loss.  When you work out, muscle fibres suffer microscopic tears, requiring amino acids to repair, which protein provides.  Supplementing your diet with a premium protein powder helps switch your body into muscle repair mode allowing your body to recover faster.


Muscle Growth

It’s well known that increasing your protein intake helps build lean muscle mass, but what is not so well known is that if you don’t supply your body with enough protein, you confuse your body; it can’t repair everything, and you can actually lose muscle mass.  Adding a high quality protein powder to your diet is a quick and easy way to keep on top of your protein requirements.  Your body is more likely to stay in an anabolic state, which means your body will continue to build muscle.


Fat loss

Protein powder has a high thermic effect which means it requires more energy to digest than carbs or fat.  This gives your metabolism a good kick and helps with fat loss.  Keeping your protein levels up also helps to enable your body to draw on stored fat for energy (particularly when combined with a low carb diet), and keeps you fuller between meals to reduce hunger and cravings.  Using a premium protein powder ensures proper growth hormone regulation.  Growth hormones are essential for good health and a deficiency can slow your metabolism, and lead to low bone density and muscle loss.

2. How much protein you need to consume

If you are involved in moderate to high-intensity exercise, your body has a higher requirement for protein.  It’s also important to learn the real quantity of protein in whole foods, i.e. 200g of chicken contains approximately 47g of protein, and if that chicken is your only source of protein for the day then you will probably not be getting enough.  That’s where supplements come in handy.  You can easily calculate how much protein per serving, plus it’s convenient and can help keep your grocery bill down.


Recommended daily intake

(grams/protein per kg body weight)

Inactive adults and those involved in low intensity exercise, e.g. lawn bowls, golf. 0.8* (ref 1)
Individuals involved in endurance type activity, e.g. running, cycling, triathlons. 1.2* – 1.4 (ref 2)
Resistance or strength training individuals, e.g. weight training, body-building. 1.7 – 1.8 (ref 2)


1. Dietary Intakes for Use in Australia, NHMRC, Government Publishing Service, Canberra 1991  

2. Lemon, P.W. Int J Sports Nutr 5(Suppl.): S39-61,1995


When it comes to protein, more is not better, and too much over time can be dangerous.  Any protein you consume that your body doesn’t need will be stored as fat. 

Keeping in mind the above guides, spread your protein intake over the course of the day into 20g to 30g servings rather than consuming it all in one main meal.  This will ensure it is utilised effectively by your body to support all those important physiological processes as well as building lean muscle tissue.    

Foods providing approx 10g protein:
Animal Sources Plant Sources

¼ cooked chicken breast (skin off)

½ can (200g) baked beans
One slice lean roast beef (40g) 2 cups cooked pasta
2 small eggs 50g peanuts
200g non-fat yoghurt 100g tofu (raw)
11g Horleys ICE Whey  
13g Horleys 100% Whey

3. Understanding your sources of protein

We recommend whole food sources of protein as the ideal choice when you can, but they’re not always convenient and when you add it up, they can be quite expensive.  Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and pulses are all good sources of protein, but it can be tricky trying to work out if you’ve eaten enough.  That’s why protein supplements have grown in popularity.  Protein powders are convenient, they cost less per serve when comparing them to whole foods, and you can easily control how much protein you’re consuming.

It’s important you balance your supplements with a whole food diet.  This includes your snacks and any meal replacements.  Stick to a diet of quality whole foods and quality supplements.

4. How to choose the best protein powder for your needs:

Walking into a sports supplement shop can be quite an experience for the uninitiated.  Shelves full of protein supplements – they’re all the same, right?  Although those giant tubs of powder can all start to look the same, the good quality ones are usually carefully formulated to suit specific needs.  They often contain different functional ingredients, and even different sources of protein, which are utilised differently by your body.  If you want to optimise your results, you need to make sure you’re using the best protein powder for your specific goal. 

Here are some of the key types of Horleys protein powders:

Whey Protein Isolate.

Whey protein isolate (WPI) is the purest form of protein powder available.  It’s what we recommend as the first and best choice and what we use in our premium formulations like Elite ICE WPI.  It has the highest count of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and because of its purity, is rapidly absorbed by the body. 

Whey isolates are virtually lactose and fat free due to being removed during the production process.  This makes whey isolates a popular choice for those needing something easy on the stomach and low in carbs, but high in protein.

There are several different ways of processing WPI.  In all cases, ultra-filtration processes are first used to manufacture whey protein concentrate (WPC).  Once dried, WPC can contain up to 80% protein, but typically still contains 5-7% fat and similar quantities of lactose.

Further processing is required to turn WPC into WPI.  Horleys Elite ICE WPI uses a cation exchange extraction method, which results in over 90% protein content and the highest levels of naturally occurring BCAAs.  The cation technology Horleys uses has set the benchmark for WPI products.


Whey Protein Concentrate.

WPC is less refined (pure) than WPI, and is a great whey option if you’re a fitness enthusiast after something affordable but still effective for recovery and repair, or perhaps just starting out on a training regime.  WPC-based products, such as Horleys 100%Whey, have a lower protein percentage than WPI, and contain more of some other nutrients like fats and carbs.  


Whey Protein Blends.

A protein blend is a combination of different types of proteins such as WPI, WPC, and casein.  A blend can be more cost effective than a protein powder just based on WPI, but a blend can also come with the benefit of containing fast and slow release protein sources.  This means you get immediate performance and recovery benefits when taken near your training sessions, plus ongoing satiety and recovery support over longer periods of time.

Horleys Elite Ripped contains a blend of WPI, WPC and casein offering a staggered absorption profile so you get the best of both worlds when it comes to recovery nutrition.  Ripped has also been boosted with key thermogenics and essential vitamins and minerals to support fat metabolism and provide nutritional support.  Horleys Elite 100% Whey Plus is a blend of WPC and WPI, both fast digesting proteins to support speedy muscle recovery.  100% Whey Plus is boosted with Leucine, the key branch chain amino acid involved in muscle synthesis supporting the body's ability to build lean muscle.


Whey Protein for Gaining Size

Protein powders for gains often contain a blend of different protein sources, including WPC.  They are calorically dense and have a specific range of other nutrients to support strength gains and muscle growth, and will also include carbs for energy.  Horleys Elite MASS is the original WPC anabolic formula that offers all the nutrients you need in a specialised mass-gainer.


Fat Loss Whey Protein.

If you want a protein powder that encourages fat loss, choose aprotein powder with fat metabolisers such as caffeine, L-carnitine and chromium.  Horleys Elite Ripped is a blend of fast and slow digesting proteins to provide fast and sustained muscle recovery.  It's ideal for fat loss, providing anabolic support during dieting for retention of hard-earned muscle tissue.  The unique metabolic complex enhances fat loss with caffeine, green tea, L-carnitine, garcinia cambogia, and chromium.

5. When to take your protein powder

Good quality protein supplement brands provide detailed instructions on-pack about when to use it, depending on your required outcome.  Follow those instructions for the best results, but in most cases, it’s advised to have some protein combined with carbs soon after completing your workout to give your body the nutrients it needs to kick-start the recovery process.

If you’re also looking to introduce more protein to your diet here are the main opportunities:

  • Breakfast: Add fruit and nuts to your protein powder and blender, and you’ve got a great tasting brekkie you can have on the run.
  • Pre-workout: Having some protein before your workout will help with fatigue during exercise, and because the amino acids are already in your system, they can go straight to work repairing damaged muscle. 
  • Post-workout: Straight after a workout is a great time to consume protein to repair those muscle tears and strains often felt the next day.
  • Meal replacements: If you want to keep weight down, using a protein shake as a meal replacement can help you manage your appetite.
  • Before bed: Consuming protein before bed supplies your body with amino acids which repair and build muscle while you sleep.
  • Snack: Protein snacks are the best kind, as they fight off hunger any time of the day.

Choose with confidence

Don’t get stressed out about all the technical details and options out there. A good base knowledge like we’ve covered here should help you to identify and focus on your core need, and prioritise the key factors that’ll help you to make a confident decision.

Some last things to consider when you choose your protein powder:

  • You would only choose high quality whole foods, so make sure you do the same with your supplements. Don’t compromise and expect the same results.
  • Look for brands that professionals use, that have reputable quality assurance and testing, and are 100% transparent with their ingredients. Make sure you buy only from a reputable company and not a cheap brand that uses fillers rather than complete proteins.
  • Choose a protein powder that uses New Zealand whey or casein. New Zealand is a world leader in these functional dairy ingredients.
  • Think of your protein shake or snack as your reward for a great workout. If you don’t like the taste, don’t punish yourself! Try another flavour or brand. Treat it as part of your workout.


Your body works hard. Enjoy it, and feed it with the best you can - for Taste, and Performance.


Breaking down the terminology: A Glossary

If there’s something we’ve talked about that’s not familiar to you, here’s a short glossary of some key terms.


Amino Acids. The building blocks of protein. Essential for repairing and building muscle.

Anabolic. Anabolism is the process by which your body utilises stored or available reserves of energy for repair and growth. This includes building muscle tissue, growing new cells and recovering from exercise. Amino Acids and Protein feed anabolism hence are crucial for this process to take place.

BCAAs. Branched Chain Amino Acids refers to three amino acids responsible for gaining and maintaining muscle mass; Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Catabolic. In simplest terms, catabolism is the breakdown of molecules for energy. The catabolic process is necessary for the body to create energy and build new cells, hormones and proteins. But, without enough protein reserves to feed it, the body will break down muscle tissue to provide for those energy needs, which can prevent muscle growth and repair and leave you tired and depleted.

Casein protein. Casein protein breaks down slowly over several hours so it’s good if you want a slow release protein that will keep your body in an anabolic (muscle building) state. 

Cation. In the Cation Exchange processes, the protein becomes positively charged and is bound to negatively charged columns resulting in a very pure whey protein product that is virtually fat and lactose free.

Concentrate. Up to 80% protein content and 5-7% fat and lactose. A good option for those who need to gain weight as well as muscle and have no issues with lactose.

Isolate. The purest and highest form of protein with up to 90% protein content and little or no lactose or fat.

Weight gainer. Weight gainer protein powder is a supplement that provides a great source of complex and simple carbs. These are much easier to digest than whole foods.

Whey protein. Whey protein is the most common form of protein you’ll find on the shelves. It is absorbed fast by the body and supports lean muscle. 

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