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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 UCF use Kinetica WHEY Protein. We were put onto Kinetica by Matt Lovell, the nutritionist for the English Rugby Team, Manchester City, Spurs and British Athletics. You could say Matt knows his stuff 😉

imgadYou”ll hear us going on about eating grass fed beef, but the bonus here is that Kinetica WHEY is produced from grass fed cows milk! It tastes good too and we are happy to give UCF readers a 20% reduction off retail price is you enter the code UCF123 into the required box at the checkout on their site. If you follow this link have a look and see what you think KINETICA SITE

A scoop of Kinetica WHEY gives 23 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.

See you soon.

Gavin @ UCF


  • Sze Lee Lai 06/08/2011

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

  • […] The simple answer is no. >>>>>Click here to find out why<<<<< […]

  • Rj 06/01/2012

    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.


      • Andy C 05/10/2012

        If I only do Cardio exercises (in my case rowing and exercise bike) is there any benefit to protein shakes for me?



      • Tom @ UCB 05/10/2012

        Hi Andy

        We are require a certain amount of protein every day just to function. If we lack protein then we won’t live for very long, it’s essential in nearly every part of your body from a cellular level up. From making collagen for skin and bones, to enzyme and hormone manufacture, to repairing muscle, to making hair and even part of DNA itself…. without we’re deader than that parrot in Monty Python. Protein in Greek means ‘Of Prime Importance’…..

        Many people associate protein shakes with getting big and bulky. This is largely due to the marketing of shakes through the years in body building mags. People then see chunky body builders with their high protein (and high carb) shakes after their workout and put two and two together and end up with 22 😉 DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE.

        If you exercise then it is important to push yourself, if not what is the point. We are creatures of habit and so once we get used to something we adapt to it and make it habitual so it is no longer a challenge. Many people on rowers, steppers, running machines, yada, yada, yada do not challenge themselves!


        If you row and challenge yourself each time then yes you need extra protein after that workout within a 30-60 minute window (depending on who’s research you read – I get some in as fast as possible just to be on the safe side). If you don’t your body will start to break down muscle in order to provide itself with energy, so the opposite of what you want from a training session!! If you have some protein in the form of chicken, beef, etc handy then by all means eat that. However a good protein shake is very, very handy and you can make it a habit to have some in your training bag to have after your session.

        So yes it will benefit you and why are you only doing cardio exercises? Here are a few links to read through, just cut and paste them into your browser buddy

        HIIT training will make you much fitter than conventional Cardio and it’s much more fun!

        Train Hard, Live Easy


        btw we have a free newsletter that sends out to nearly 4000 people twice a week. Email us at and I’ll add you to the list.

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  • Rebekah Thomas 14/09/2012

    Hi, I am just about to start the Fat Furnace and want to take a daily protein shake. Which specifically should I buy? Thx Rebekah

    • Gavin @ UCB 14/09/2012

      Hi Rebekah,

      Congrats on buying the fat furnace to start with….I’m sure you will do very well. Any other questions as you follow the plan, please drop us a line.

      Protein powder – We recommend Optimum Nutrition Gold standard whey protein. You can get this from Monster

      Take before and after pics and measurements and enjoy the results.


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  • Imran 05/10/2012


    Just about to start the 14 days plan. Just wanted to ask, I got the HydroBuilder from a mate, is this still ok for PostWorkout shake rather than Gold Whey standard?

    • Tom @ UCB 05/10/2012


      I have not used either of those to be honest, so cannot pass judgement. The marketing looks good, but then it does on every product and the market is a minefield!

      Just to throw a spanner in the works. I personally like Gaspari’s Myofusion Probiotic better than any other proteins. It has a mixed blend of proteins (not just whey) and the probiotics in there help with digestion and to balance the good bacteria in the gut.

      I have used many, many products through the years. I am currently sub 6% bodyfat. I attribute about 1% of this to the Gaspari product. You may get the same results by taking the others there with a probiotic, or not….. However I use it to get into shape for photoshoots and I like it.

      A company called Dolphin Supplements do it at a great price and deliver the next day. Google it and see what you think.

      ps Gav (my partner in crime with UCF) likes the Gold Standard. Everyone has a preference. If the LA was free then go with that. Yes I’d just use a little less and aim for 30g a serving. Have the shake with fish oil or nuts to slow down the rate it spikes blood glucose levels.



  • Imran 05/10/2012

    P.S: He actually also gave me LA Muscle Whey. Half a tub.

    That has 48g protein per serving. Is that too much? he mentioned to have this in the morning or as a snack and have the optimum hydrobuilder post training?


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