Protein Type Guide
With all the different types of proteins available which type of protein is the best? What are the differences between each type of protein? Do some types of protein have extra benefits?
These are very important questions that many people who are serious about getting fit want to know. Below is an introductory guide into the different types of protein and what their benefits and downsides are.
Whey Protein is one of the most used, most studied and cheapest (depending on the type/brand) protein available on the market. This form of protein is most commonly produced as a by-product of the cheese making process. Whey protein, especially in isolate and hydrolyzed form is commonly taken pre and post workout to aid in muscle rebuilding and recovery. It can also be useful as a supplement in between meals if your diet is lacking in protein.
There are three main types of Whey protein: Whey Concentrate, Whey Isolate and Hydrolyzed Whey. Which is the best? What is the difference? And which is the most cost effective? The answers are found below:
Whey Concentrate can be a great way to get additional protein into a diet; it is also one of the least expensive proteins to choose from. Depending on the brand chosen, whey concentrate is made up of around 70-85% protein; the rest is made up of lactose and milk fat. Overall whey concentrate is a great protein for those on a tight budget that need extra protein in their diet.
Whey Isolate is a superior form of protein because it is composed of 90-100% pure protein. This means that in each serving of whey isolate there will be less lactose, milk fat, cholesterol and more grams of pure protein. Whey Isolate is also absorbed by the body much quicker than concentrate, thus helping muscles to repair faster.
The main downside of isolate is that it is more expensive than concentrate. One other downside is that some healthful protein sub-fractions get removed along with the lactose and milk fat.
Hydrolyzed whey is considered to be the fastest absorbing of all whey proteins, the process of hydrolyzing breaks down large proteins into smaller pieces that are able to get into your blood stream more rapidly, which in turn will enable muscles to start repairing faster. Similar to whey isolate, there is no excess fat, cholesterol or lactose to slow down digestion, which leaves nothing but high quality fast absorbing protein that is loaded with branch chain amino acids.
Much like whey isolate the downsides of hydrolyzed whey are that some of the immune boosting protein sub-fractions get lost in the process of creating whey hydrolysate. Also the cost per pound is higher than whey concentrate and isolate.
For more information about the differences between isolate, concentrate and hydrolysate see: Isolate vs Concentrate
Casein Protein is a great tool to add to your arsenal of supplements because the body cannot rapidly absorb it as fast as many other types of proteins. This is helpful because some protein products will only last in your system for a few hours. Casein protein can last you a whopping 8 hours, making it the longest lasting protein source you can consume, which is perfect for taking before bed. Casein protein powder also has other benefits:
Casein Benefit #1: Greater Muscle Retention during Fat Loss
It’s no secret that holding on to muscle while consuming a lower calorie diet is difficult! But this is where Casein protein comes out ahead of all other proteins!
A study out of Boston tested the amount of lean muscle gains as well as total fat loss while one group was given casein protein and the other was given whey protein. While both groups showed fat loss, the group using casein protein came out of the study with a higher total body percentage of lean muscle mass.
Casein Benefit #2: Greater Fat Loss
Another advantage of Casein protein is the high amount of calcium it contains. Casein protein has roughly 6 times the amount of calcium than whey! Why is this important? The International Journal of Obesity found that those who take in a high amount of calcium in addition to their protein intake end up losing more fat than those that take in low calcium with the same amount of protein.
Micellar Casein VS Calcium/Sodium Caseinate
Have you ever noticed that some casein protein powders put micellar casein in big bold letters on the front of their product? There is a reason for this; micellar casein is superior to calcium caseinate (or sodium caseinate) when it comes to the amount of time it will take the body to fully digest. Here’s why:
Calcium caseinate is more commonly used in the food industry because it dissolves faster; as an example calcium/sodium caseinate is used in your coffee creamer because it is more soluble. Calcium/sodium caseinate has been altered by alkalis such as sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide in order for it to mix better.
Calcium caseinate thus becomes easier to mix in your protein drink, but ends up losing the main benefit that most people buy it for: digestion time. The 7-8 hour digestion time of normal micellar casein ends up being reduced somewhere near the digestion time of whey when it is altered!
So if your goal in buying a casein product is for a slow release protein, then do yourself a favor and always go with micellar casein!
Plant based protein powder has many distinct advantages that really help with overall health and wellbeing. Why would anyone choose a plant based protein powder over all the others?
Plant Benefit #1: Alkaline-Forming
The average diet in today’s world typically consists of processed bread, meats and dairy which ultimately will increase the body's acidity levels. Plant based protein in contrast will help return your body to natural alkaline pH levels. Why is this important? Having a more alkaline based diet will help to reduce stress, combat inflammation and preserve your bone health. All of these factors and more will help you in your goals to lose body fat and gain muscle over the entire course of your life.
Plant Benefit #2: Heart Healthy
According to the CDC the number one cause of death is Heart Disease; one of the contributing factors to this is the unhealthy amount of saturated fats that most people take in through meat and dairy products. Most plant based protein powders on the other hand do not contain any saturated fat at all.
Plant Benefit #3: Nutrients
Adding just one or two more servings of plant based protein into your life will add to your overall health! You will find vitamins and minerals that you cannot get in dairy or animal based protein powders. The inclusion of these necessary nutrients will help in achieving your overall goals of losing fat and gaining muscle!
Egg protein is also another solid choice when it comes to choosing a protein supplement. Egg Protein is a complete protein (meaning that it contains all 10 essential amino acids). The advantage that it has over whey and casein is that it naturally contains no dairy which is perfect for anyone with dairy or lactose allergies!
Another unique thing about egg protein is its digestion speed; whey is a fast digesting protein, while casein is a slow digesting; egg protein falls in the middle it digests at a moderate speed making it a great protein to take during the day between meals.
Soy is a vegetarian source of protein, and while it is not a huge favorite of most bodybuilders it has many benefits. Soy protein helps lower cholesterol and is loaded with glutamine, arginine and BCAA's which help with your overall recovery. Soy protein also helps speed up the metabolism which can help with fat loss.
The reason most bodybuilders shy away from Soy protein is because they believe it to have estrogenic affects which would be detrimental for overall muscle development. The fact is that soy protein has anti-estrogenic properties in various tissues and does not affect female or male reproductive hormones in anyway. Test after test has proven that male testosterone and DHEAS levels remained unchanged after consuming soy protein.
For more information see: Is Soy Protein Bad for Building Muscle?
Every type of protein has certain benefits, in order to get the full use out of protein it would be wise to combine them so that a person can get the fast-absorbing benefits of whey, the slow absorbing benefits of casein, the cholesterol lowering benefits of soy protein, the anabolic benefits of whey, the fat reducing properties of casein and the list goes on!