“I want to get some protein powder to help with my workouts but what kind should I get?” This is a question that some of us take for granted, but the fact of the matter is that many people are either misinformed or just don’t know. That’s ok because in this segment, we will not only talk about the different types of protein, but will also help you realize when it is more advantageous to use one type over another.
There’s more than one type of protein?
Protein is just protein, right? Well, this is true in the most literal way possible, but for all of us in the health and wellness world, we know that there are more optimal ways to go about protein. There are a few different types of protein we will talk about in this article which includes: whey, casein, soy, egg, rice, and hemp protein.
Whey protein is a type of milk protein and is the most common type of protein on the market, and for many reasons. First of all it is a protein that is processed by the body quickly, so it can be implemented at any time for instant utilization. Because of this property, it is the most popular choice for immediate protein consumption directly following a workout. Whey is a complete protein with a very high content of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). It also has the highest concentration of one amino acid in particular, Leucine. Leucine is arguably the most important amino acid due to its ability to trigger protein synthesis for muscle growth. Lastly, due to its availability, whey is usually the most cost effective of all the protein powders.
Soy protein seems to be up and down when it comes to recent schools of thought on protein. Soy, coming from the soy bean, offers many positive benefits for consumers. First off, it is very quickly utilized by the body, just behind whey in that category. According to an FDA approved claim, it can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Although it is a plant based protein, soy is one of the few complete proteins in this department. With that being said, soy makes for a great alternative to those looking to avoid anything that may be an animal byproduct. Lastly it contains two grams of the amino acid arginine per 20 grams of soy! This can prove to be a nice additional way to increase blood flow and shuttle nutrients, as arginine is a known nitric oxide booster. Even though soy isn’t quite as effective as whey in the muscle building department, it still provides a good quality alternative.
Casein protein is also a type of milk protein that has a very slow and steady rate of digestion. This makes it a terrible choice for a post workout shake, when you want to jumpstart protein synthesis as soon as possible! Although it is not ideal for a post workout shake, it is the absolute best option for an overnight recovery shake. Its slow digestion keeps a steady protein supply to your muscles over the long night where a fast acting protein falls short. Another benefit of casein is its ability to be used in numerous ways in the kitchen. Cooking with casein makes for a much fluffier protein pancake or protein cookie than whey (which can turn it into more of a flat slab of rubber).
Egg protein used to be the king of protein years ago, but that was before the emergence of whey. Egg is a very high quality that has a medium rate of digestion. An easy generalization about egg protein can be a jack of all trades, master of none. It is just not really the best at any of the important categories of protein but it’s always towards the top.
Rice is another protein that is an alternative for those trying to avoid any animal byproducts. Unfortunately, unlike soy or hemp, rice is an incomplete plant protein. To be a complete protein, it must contain all the essential amino acids (amino acids your body can only get from outside sources) and also in sufficient amounts. Rice is also a great alternative to those with sensitive stomachs, as it is easily digested as well as hypoallergenic. Due to its lack of BCAA concentration and weaker amino acid profile, rice protein is not a very popular choice among fitness enthusiasts.
A less common protein is hemp. It is a plant based protein and does not possess the psychedelic effects that its cousin does. A very positive attribute of hemp protein, as mentioned before, is that it’s a complete protein. Another benefit of hemp protein is that it has inflammatory fighting power due to its omega-6 fatty acids contents. It can also contain up to 10-12 grams of fiber per serving! Before we completely fall in love with hemp protein powders, let it be known that for protein synthesis and muscle building, it is still behind whey.
But I Don’t Want To Get Fat
A very well spread misconception is that supplementing protein powder will cause you to add additional body fat. You can kiss this concern goodbye because it isn’t protein that adds the body fat; it is the excess carbohydrates and fats you are taking in. Protein is the most thermogenic of all the macronutrients; so a lean protein diet is going to help you lose weight if you keep your carbs and fats under control. Therefore, choose a protein powder that has low fat and carb content, and limited fillers.
As far as triggering protein synthesis and building lean muscle, whey protein powder is going to be your best bet. That doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you. Assess all the advantages and disadvantages of certain proteins over others and determine what will help you best reach your goals. If money isn’t an issue, you should always have a fast acting and a slow acting protein. This is where casein would definitely flex its “muscle.” Alternatively, if you are lactose intolerant or trying to avoid animal byproducts, there a few plant based proteins that will work well for you. Hopefully this article not only informed you on different aspects of protein, but will also help you make an informed decision on which type or types are best for you.
Elite 1 Fitness