Protein Powders! Which is Right for Me?
Before deciding which protein powder is necessary, here is a short protein primer to help you make sense of the thousands of different protein powders from which to choose.
Whey, milk, egg, and soy are some of the “mainstream” names, but to the bodybuilding community it gets broken down even more:
- Whey protein isolate
- whey protein concentrate
- Hydrolyzed whey
- Calcium caseinate
- Egg white
- Whole egg
- Micellar casein
- Etc, etc, etc…
What are the benefits of all these different forms of protein powder?
Whey protein makes up 20% of total milk protein. Whey is recognized for its excellent amino acid profile, high cysteine content, rapid digestion, and interesting variety of peptides.
Casein protein makes up 80% of total milk protein. Casein is recognized for its excellent amino acid profile, slow digestion and interesting variety of peptides. Since casein is slowly digested into your bloodstream, don’t use it during workouts or after workouts – you need a fast absorbing protein at these times.
Soy protein is the most controversial of all protein types. While the soy groupies have gone to great lengths to label soy as a super food with magical effects, there is also a good amount of research that suggests soy protein may be contraindicated in many situations. Because of all the confusion, I suggest avoiding soy protein altogether and sticking to the other types listed.
Protein Blends are generally a combination of several types of protein blends such as whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein protein, and soy protein. Why would you want a blend anyway? You will receive the full spectrum of proteins and you will receive varying rates of absorption from the different types of protein.
Whey hydrolysates (also known as hydrolyzed whey protein, and are also called peptides), are powerful proteins that are more quickly absorbed; more so than any other form, since your body prefers peptides to whole proteins.
Hydrolysates are produced through very low heat, low acid and mild enzymatic filtration processes, (those highest in the essential and the branched chain amino acids) and are potentially the most anabolic for short-term protein synthesis such as 15 minutes prior to a workout, during a workout and immediately after a workout.
Whey Protein Versus Whey Isolate:
Most whey protein powders that stock the supplement shelves are made up of whey concentrate and mixed in with a small portion of whey isolate. Comparing the two, whey protein isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate because it has a higher quality (more pure) and a higher BV (biological value). Whey protein isolate contains more protein and less fat and lactose per serving. Most whey protein isolates contain 90-98% protein while whey concentrates contain 70-85% protein.
Whey protein isolate is the highest yield of protein currently available that comes from milk. Because of its chemical properties it is the easiest to absorb into your system. Obviously with its high concentration, it appears that an isolate protein would be the obvious choice instead of a concentrate.
However, this is an individual decision because the isolate is more expensive, and just because it is purer does not guarantee that it will help build bigger muscles. Its extra concentration may not justify its extra cost.
With the myriad of choices available, one could easily become confused on which is the right powder for them. Do your research, read labels and try different types and brands. Bodybuilding.com is a great source for articles and they even have a protein finder tool to help you choose.