The scoop on protein supplements
There are so many different variations of protein powders on the market from whey, whey isolate, casein, hemp, pea, soy, collagen peptides, bone broth, egg white to name a few. On top of all the variations of protein sources there are also a ton of different brands. So, how do you choose?
In this post I will break down some of the most common protein sources you see on the shelves (not brands).
Protein is an essential component of every cell in the human body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
Some of you may already know this and Macrostaxer’s you better know this after the challenge we just did ;) protein is a "macronutrient" along with fats and carbs meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. But, unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.
Majority of us aren’t eating enough protein in our diets. Our diets are filled with high fat and high carb but low protein especially those who are vegan or vegetarian because you aren’t getting protein from animal sources you lean towards soy or legumes which is also high in carbs. This is where protein supplementation comes into play.
While I always prefer real, whole foods, sometimes it’s just not enough. We live busy active lives and eating healthy isn’t always an option or easy.
I personally have tried SO many different proteins out there….like SO many…and a lot are just terrible or WAY TO SWEET from artificial sweeteners. YUCK! My protein of choice right now is between Rootz which is plant based and BiPro which is a whey isolate. Rootz tastes great (like peanut butter), is not sweet, contains superfoods, however is a little grainy at the bottom which is some of the superfoods in there. BiPro is one of the smoothest proteins I’ve tasted. There is no chalkiness to it and mixes awesome with water. Love the taste!
OK, let’s break down some of your options...
Whey is a complete protein made from milk that’s easily digestible. However if you have a lactose or dairy allergy STAY AWAY! Consuming whey protein within 45 minutes after a workout it can limit muscle breakdown and help with repair and rebuilding. A basic whey protein powder can have a higher fat content and not be as pure so if you are looking for a supplement that is a little more pure go for the Whey Isolate. It contain the highest protein concentration (90-95%) and very little fat.
Casein: Another milk protein, casein is absorbed by the body much more slowly than whey, says Heather Mangieri, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “This means it's a good choice for meal replacements, which helps you stay fuller longer, or to take right before bed when it will supply the body with protein throughout the night when you enter a catabolic state.” One downside is that casein is less water-soluble than whey, so it doesn’t mix quite as well with liquids. Look for the ingredient “calcium caseinate” on the label to ensure you’re getting the purest form of the protein.
As a complete plant-based protein, soy is a great option for vegans or anyone who’s lactose intolerant. However, soy protein can be highly processed and some studies have linked soy consumption in women with a history of estrogen positive cancer to an increased risk of breast cancer. If you do choose soy, consume it in moderation, and be sure look for labels that read soy protein isolate, which contains more protein, isoflavones, and less cholesterol and fat compared to soy protein concentrate.
While rice is mostly composed of carbohydrate, it contains a small of protein, which is extracted to create brown rice protein. “However, since it's plant-based, it's not a complete protein, so pair it with other plant-based proteins like hemp or pea powder to complete the essential amino acid profile,” says Brendan Brazier, formulator of Vega and author of Thrive. Brown rice protein is hypo-allergic and easily digested, making it an excellent alternative for anyone with a sensitive stomach or allergies to soy or dairy.
This plant-based protein is highly digestible and has a fluffy texture. “Plus pea protein is high in glutamic acid, which helps convert carbs into energy so they won’t be stored as fat,” Brazier says. Again, since pea protein is plant-based, it isn’t a complete protein so it needs to be paired with other vegan sources of protein, like brown rice or hemp.
Hemp: A near-complete plant-based protein, hemp offers the inflammation-fighting power of omega-6 essential fatty acids and is high in fiber, it’s a great choice for those following a vegan diet. Some studies have also suggested hemp protein may be more helpful in weight loss, thanks to its high fiber content, than other protein powders, says Mangieri.
Egg White Protein
Egg white protein powder is made from dried egg whites. And, the protein found in egg whites is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids in the amounts our bodies need to function optimally. This is a great choice if you don’t digest whey well.