There are many different types of protein powders available on the market, and choosing the best one for you can be a very confusing process. There is whey protein, casein protein, beef protein, egg protein, mixed green protein, hemp protein, brown rice protein, and even pea protein. With so many options, how are you ever supposed to choose? Luckily, we have created a simple guide to helping you choose the best value protein powder to suit your individualized needs.
Pure whey protein and casein protein are by far the most popular options and both come with massive health benefits. Studies have shown that these two types are the best for absorption and their amino acid content.
Both pure whey protein powder and casein protein are fast to take effect within your body, rapidly showing their benefits. The amino acids contained in both will help your overall physical performance, as well as vastly improving your mood and quality of sleep.
Whey protein is made of various proteins derived from the liquid part of milk, also known as "whey". Despite its name, it actually contains 80% casein and only 20% whey. It contains high levels of leucine, one of the three chain amino acids (or BCAAs) beneficial to your body. Because leucine is not broken down by the liver, this ingredient is rapidly absorbed into your body's tissue, contributes to muscle growth and the natural production of insulin. It's also one of only two amino acids that cannot be converted into sugar.
Nowadays, there are so many options when it comes to whey protein products that it can oftentimes be overwhelming. Whey protein is known for its high quality, low price, and extreme effectiveness. Whey protein concentrate has proven to be the best value protein powder available on the market. Not only does whey protein concentrate promote muscle growth, but it can also lower your blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and reduce hunger, helping you to lose weight. Cheap whey protein powder is an excellent replacement option for people who are on a diet, or who are constantly on the go and may often have to skip meals.
Recent studies have suggested that pure whey protein may even be able to help treat Type 2 Diabetes, alleviate the symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), enhance antioxidants, and benefit blood fats aiding in the prevention of heart disease and high cholesterol.
Pure whey protein is available in three forms:
- Whey Protein Concentrate
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Whey Protein Concentrate:
This form of whey protein can consist of anywhere between 25-89% protein, but the standard is generally 80%. It can contain anywhere from 4-52% lactose, usually ranging between 4-8%, and has 1-9% fat content.
- Low cost, a very cost-effective, cheap whey protein for people on a budget.
- Whey protein concentrate contains a lot of carbohydrates and is rich in lactose, making it a poor option for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
Whey Protein Isolate:
This form of whey protein consists of 90-95% protein, and only 0.5-1% lactose, with 0.5-1% fat.
- Whey protein isolate is the purest form of pure whey protein powder.
- It contains only a small trace of lactose (sometimes, no lactose at all).
- It contains only a few carbohydrates, making it perfect for people on a low-carb diet.
- Whey protein isolate is a bit more expensive.
- You must always ensure it is actually whey protein isolate, as opposed to isolate plus hydrolyzed whey protein.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein:
This form of whey protein consists of 80-90% protein, 0.5-10% lactose, and 0.5-8% fat.
- Hydrolyzed whey protein boasts all the benefits of whey protein isolate but is digested faster than its counterpart.
- Priced higher than whey protein isolate for only a slight advantage when it comes to its slightly faster digestion rate.
Between the three forms of whey protein, the best option is whey protein isolate. Not only is it the purest form of whey protein, but it is the most cost-effective and efficient whey protein powder product available on the market. It is completely safe for people who suffer from lactose intolerance, low in carbohydrates, and contains a minimum of 2.5 grams of Leucine per serving.
The only downfall is that it is slightly more expensive than whey protein concentrate (but certainly worth the price difference), and that it is sometimes confused with isolate plus hydrolyzed whey protein.
Just make sure to pay close attention to the labels before you purchase, and you will be pleased with the benefits you receive from whey protein isolate!
Casein contains 80% of the concentrated protein found in cow's milk, making it a great substitute for milk. It digests more slowly than whey protein, which gives it an anti-catabolic effect. While it will not help you to build muscle as quickly as whey, nor does it contain as many amino acids, it will last longer in your system and has many of the same health benefits.
Casein protein has been proven to benefit both the body's digestive and immune system, as well as benefit your heart by lowering blood pressure and reducing the formation of blood clots. Casein proteins contain numerous bioactive peptides, which work similarly to angiotensin-converting enzymes (also known as ACE inhibitors) which are often prescribed to patients to aid in controlling blood pressure.
Additionally, casein proteins are able to transport important minerals including calcium and phosphorus throughout your body, which improves stomach digestion.
This protein is also found in 3 forms:
- It is an inexpensive protein option for people who are on a budget.
- It is a bad quality protein due to the fact that it is chemically denatured.
- This form of casein is very pure and has excellent bio-disponibility and anti-catabolic effects due to the slow digestion of the amino acids contained within it.
- This form of casein still contains less leucine than whey protein powders.
- Digests quickly, rapidly showing results.
- More expensive than other options.
- Taste is less than desirable.
- Not a great option for people who are on a diet, or in the midst of an extended fasting period.
The best option for casein protein powder is micellar due to its purity, bio-disponibility, and anti-catabolic effects. The slow digestion of the amino acids contained within micellar casein proteins gives it long-lasting effects. It makes it a great option for anyone who is on a diet or fasting.
What Is the Best Time To Take a Powdered Protein Supplement?
If you ate a solid meal or drank a protein shake prior to your workout, it is not necessary to take your powdered whey supplement immediately before a workout. Whey protein powders can be used up to two hours after your workout, within your anabolic window (5-6 hours after your workout began). Feel free to work out, come home, make and consume a filling meal before drinking your whey protein powder shake.
Whey protein powder digests quickly, so there is no rush to consume one immediately following your workout. If you are chronically bad about drinking a protein shake before your workout, whey protein powders may be just the right solution for you: They will aid in protein synthesis and muscular reconstruction while helping you to avoid muscular catabolism in the hours following your workout due to an insufficient intake of protein beforehand.
While some studies show that drinking a protein shake before your workout may be beneficial, there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. Many people report feeling nauseous due to consuming food or beverages before their workout routines, so proceed with caution where pre-exercise nutrition is concerned.
Casein protein can be consumed immediately before bedtime as many studies suggest that the slow absorption of this particular type of protein is far more effective for protein synthesis when taken before rest. Using casein protein powder at night will boost muscle metabolism, and help your body to repair tissues which have been strained during physical activity.
That being said, casein can be taken with a meal, or snack, at any time during the day. It is also a good idea to take a powdered casein supplement a few hours before your work out, in order for your body to produce enough amino acids during physical activity. Contrary to whey, casein is best taken before workouts, as opposed to post-workout.
How much protein should I consume?
You should consume 0.8g to 2.2g/ per kg of body weight, per day. Whey protein can be used as a meal replacement and help you to achieve your daily protein intake. However, you should always strive to consume real food instead of a supplement. Food is not replaceable by nutrient-rich protein supplements.
What is the optimal amount of protein per dose?
The optimal amount of protein per dose seems to be 25 to 40 grams of protein. If your daily protein intake is above 120 grams, it is a good idea to split it into more manageable doses. For example, consuming 200 grams of protein daily would be best split up amongst five separate meals of 40 grams.