The myth of “Bulking up”

Today I want to debunk a few myths about Protein powder and whether you really need a protein shake after a workout. This is aimed at the ladies but it still has relevance for the guys too.

Stereotypically, Protein powder is seen as a supplement that men use if they want to get big or “bulk up” as many people like to call it. Females in particular see guys doing heavy weights and drinking protein shakes and naturally assume that the protein shake is putting the size or the muscle on the guy.

They then assume that if they have a protein shake they will also get big or bulk up. If I had a pound for every girl who said “I don’t want to “bulk up” I just want to “tone up”, I would have about £137 by now 🙂

This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Lets look at why.

Firstly, this is what a Protein shake after a workout WILL do-

1) Start to repair muscle damage from the workout.

2) Help with (DOMS) delayed onset muscle soreness, the pain you have a day or two later.

3) Start the fat burning process immediately after a workout.

4) Increase strength and muscle tone/size (tone for the ladies, and size and tone for you guys producing the extra testosterone – the well-known male hormone)

5) Decrease your cravings for carbohydrates.

6) help you stay fuller for longer (sounds like a popular supermarket slogan)

7) Read those 6 points again, as it’s important to realise how important the shake is!

A protein shake will do all of the above and will not “bulk” ANYONE up most certainly not a female looking to lose body-fat, tone her muscles, drop a dress size or two and generally stay fit and healthy and look great at the beach.

What most people fail to take into consideration is the other factors required to bulk up. I will use myself as an example as I have been weight training since I was 15 years old. I would say I’m pretty involved in weight training or bodybuilding although not an out-and-out bodybuilder that you see in pictures.

I train very hard 4-5 days per week, heavy weights with reps anywhere between 6-12. My diet is immaculate 90% of the time, 6-8 meals per day including 2-3 protein shakes a day. I supplement my diet with lots of fish oil, creatine, glutamine. I drink 2-3 litres of water per day, don’t smoke, don’t drink much, I sleep like a baby, I’m not stressed and always looking to put on lean muscle.

I have average genetics and I really know what I am doing and guess what? I still find it hard to put on an extra 2-4kg of muscle. On top of that, I’m male and have 10 times more testosterone than the average female. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for muscle growth among other things. Suffice to say that “BULKING UP” is a myth.

It’s hard to put on muscle. Its damn hard for a female to put muscle on. If you are female and you still did all of the above, you would possibly  put a few kg’s of lean muscle tissue on your body. This would equate in a smaller, tighter, leaner version of what you are now, not a bulked up version.


This means that when you add some muscle in a healthy way, you invariably are replacing some fat, so even if you weigh the same you are slimmer and more metabolic!! (as muscle burns calories, while fat just lazes about making you look, well fat)

Everyone that trains with personally knows that I continually suggest a daily protein shake or at least one after a workout for all of the above reasons.

Ladies, the muscle that you have is precious and absolutely vital in achieving your goals in the gym, whether its weight loss, toning, losing that dress size, a flat stomach and a smaller bum or even getting back into those skinny jeans.

Buy a good quality protein powder. Ignore the men in the office that say they got big when they took protein. Refer them to this email, or better still, give me their email address so I can add them to my email list so they can start to understand things a little better.

We at UCB like a brand called Optimum Nutrition Gold standard whey. It mixes well, tastes amazing, even with water and has a great range of flavours.

A scoop of Gold standard whey gives 24 grams of protein. Compare this to the average chicken breast that gives 30 grams and you can alter the amount you have accordingly. The marketing on a tub of this protein is geared towards men (as is the marketing on many tubs of protein). Just realise what it is (marketing) and that for the ladies out there it’s worth bearing in mind that the women’s protein tubs are usually the same protein in a different pretty tub with women’s marketing sprawled over them. Serving size will maybe be slightly less as the scoop is smaller, but that’s about the main difference.

To use a chicken breast analogy again it would be like saying a normal size chicken breast is great for men as it provides 30 grams of high-grade protein to pack on muscle mass and strength while making you ripped. While for women they chop a third off the same chicken breast and charge a little more (incrementally) and say it’s the best protein to maximise fat loss and conserve lean muscle while setting your metabolism into overdrive to look great in that bikini this summer.

I hope this has helped a few of you out there to understand more about protein powder. For those that want to know more, drop me a quick line and I will point you in the right direction as to where to buy the best protein supplements.

See you soon.

Gavin @ UCF

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11 Responses to The myth of “Bulking up”

  1. Sze Lee Lai says:

    Can’t agree more. I think different type of protein powder also giving different results. Probably can explain more on the next post

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  3. Rj says:

    Is it possible to get low calorie whey protein ?

    • Hi RJ,

      Thanks for the message. There is no such thing as low calorie whey protein.
      A gram of protein contains 4kcal and a gram of protein from any protein source will
      always have 4kcal. You could have a lower calorie shake but that would only be due to the amount of protein in the shake. For example, a shake with 40grams of protein, if we were to count only the protein would be 160kcal, 40 grams x 40kcal = 160kcal. Make sense? Calories are not important as 40grams of carbs would do very different things to your body compared to 40grams of protein, both yielding 160kcal. Hope that helps.


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