Have you ever felt overwhelmed while selecting the protein powder for you? There are so many varieties and types of protein powders that it becomes extremely difficult to understand that “what is the best type of protein powder” for you.
What most people think is that only bodybuilders need protein powders, but, the truth is that all of us need protein for normal functioning of our body, and sometimes, our regular diet is not able to provide us the amount of protein required by our body. Thus, you need the best protein powder to satisfy your daily protein requirement.
These days, protein powders are becoming one of the most popular supplements and not only bodybuilders but, everyone seems to be interested in them. This is why; you can easily find them in any nutrition store.
But, the kind of variety available in the protein powders may confuse you and make you wonder “how to choose the best protein powder for you”?
Well, if you are also confused about what protein powders are, why do you need them, how to pick the perfect protein powder, and what should you know before purchasing a protein powder, then keep reading.
Here’s the answer to your every protein powder related question.
Table of Contents
- What is the protein powder?
- How Much Protein Do We Need Daily?
- When Do You Need More Protein?
- Types of Protein Powders
- Forms of Protein Powders
What is the protein powder?
Walk into any gym these days, and you can see people shaking something in their bottles and gulping it down as soon as they finish their workout. It’s the protein powder and what most of us know about them is just that we need it after the workout to relax the sore muscles.
But, actually, the protein powder is nothing but a concentrated powder containing the same protein which can be found in various dietary protein sources like eggs, meat, dairy, soy, green leafy vegetables etc.
Protein is one of the macronutrients which is required by our body to support an array of body functions like building and repairing tissues, making enzymes, generating hormones, and several other body chemicals. Protein is also one of the underlying building blocks of blood, skin, cartilage, muscles, and bones.
Protein powders are the protein concentrates which are derived from the dietary sources, from which the protein is extracted and the other nutrients are left. For example, in whey protein, the protein from milk is extracted and, the carbohydrates and fats in the milk are left.
With a protein powder, you can easily increase your protein intake without vastly increasing the intake of other macronutrients. So, when you have protein powder, what you consume is just the protein part of any dietary protein source. Consequently, you eat less calories and less quantity of food, but, get the optimum amount of protein.
This protein helps in repairing the muscles after a workout, boosting the athletic performance, and improving the muscle tone.
How Much Protein Do We Need Daily?
The daily protein intake required by us completely depends on our body weight. The adults need approximately 0.5 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of their body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need somewhere between 75 – 225 grams of protein.
The lower end of the range is for people who live a sedentary lifestyle while the top end is meant only for the elite level athletes who train for several hours every day.
Now, it’s your choice that you want to derive this protein from the dietary sources or from the protein powders.
When Do You Need More Protein?
If you are living a regular life without putting extra strain on your physical health, you need the general amount of protein. However, you would need more protein if:
- You are growing up, and you have already started a workout regime. For instance, a teenager will need more protein to support his workouts because his/her body is still growing, and thus, its protein requirements are higher.
- You have experienced a muscle or a bone injury, you would need more protein because your body is trying to heal the tissues or bones affected due to injury.
- You are planning to indulge in strenuous workout sessions, that will target your muscles.
- When you are preparing for a physical event and are getting trained for it. For instance, if you have to run a marathon.
- You aren’t able to eat the dairy and meat sources which provide a high amount of protein.
Types of Protein Powders
1. Whey Protein
This is the most common type of protein which can easily be found at any nutrition store. It is also the cheapest of all the protein supplements, and it is enriched with an array of essential minerals and vitamins.
Vital Facts About Whey Protein
- Whey protein is derived from milk, and apart from the protein, it also possesses lactose.
- The whey protein concentrate possesses lactose, and the amount of lactose becomes negligible if you use the whey protein isolate.
- Whey protein contains many BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids), and Leucine is one of this BCAAs that aids muscle growth and fastens the recovery process after high-intensity endurance exercises.
- Whey protein also helps in reducing appetite, and thus, the calorie intake also decreases while aiding weight loss.
2. Soy Protein Powder
Soy is one of the best plant-based protein sources and contains all the essential amino acids. Owing to this, the soy based protein powder is often considered as the complete protein.
While the soy protein is similar to whey protein when it comes to stimulating the muscle growth after a strenuous workout, but, there are many other benefits as well that soy proteins offer which go much beyond the muscle growth and gymming.
Vital Facts About Soy Protein
- Irrespective of the fact that so protein is a plant-based protein, it offers similar muscle stimulation benefits and recovery after a workout as whey protein.
- The soy protein is rich in the organic compounds known as “isoflavones” which are known for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and many types of cancers.
- The isoflavones present in the protein, when taken in excess can interact with the hormones like estrogen and impact their levels.
3. Hemp Protein
Another plant-based protein, which is gaining immense popularity off lately. It’s easy to digest and offers an array of benefits apart from its protein content.
Made from the hemp seeds, it’s a good alternative for vegan people who don’t want to consume animal-based protein powders.
Vital Facts About Hemp Protein
- Apart from being a rich source of protein, the hemp protein powders also offer Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are vital for keeping the body healthy and free from various diseases.
- Many health and fitness experts connect the hemp protein with “Cannabis” as it contains the same ingredient which is present in marijuana and makes people feel high. However, the concentration of psychoactive component THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is very high in marijuana as compared to hemp protein in which its negligible, and thus, its free from any side effects.
- Hemp protein cannot be regarded as a complete protein or ideal for post workout usage because of low levels of leucine amino acids.
- The fat content of hemp protein is also quite high, and thus, it makes you consume many extra calories as compared to its other counterparts. So, if your goal is weight loss, you must avoid consuming it.
4. Casein Protein
Like whey protein, the source of casein protein is also milk, but, unlike the former, it’s digested much more slowly.
Casein protein is the primary protein found in the pure cow’s milk, but, due to its complex interaction with the acids present in the stomach, it gets digested slowly. It is quite beneficial in fat loss and lean muscle gain.
Vital Facts About Casein Protein
- As it interacts differently with the stomach acids, it slowly releases the essential amino acids and proteins, and thus, its one of the best protein supplements when you require a slow release of nutrients.
- By forming a gel-like substance with stomach acids, casein protein delays the absorption of the amino acids into the blood stream.
- Casein protein is more effective than wheat and soy protein when it comes to enhancing the muscle protein synthesis, but, cannot beat whey protein.
- With slow digestion, it restricts the calories and thus, is quite effective in improving the composition of the body during the resistance training.
- Casein protein is better than whey protein in increasing the chest strength and reduction of fat mass.
5. Pea Protein
It’s surprising that a common vegetable like pea can be an excellent source of protein, but it’s true.
While pea protein is absorbed more slowly as compared to whey protein, but, it’s quite fast when compared to casein protein. Apart from fast absorption, it also triggers the release of the hormones like CCK, GLP-1, and PYY which are often termed as “fullness hormones”. But, pea protein is relatively new and thus, more research is required to develop a comprehensive understanding of it and its impact on the body.
Vital Facts About Pea Protein
- Pea protein is a completely plant based powder which is naturally fat and cholesterol free.
- Made from the yellow split pea, which is a high-fiber legume, this protein offers a good concentration of all the essential amino acids except methionine and cysteine.
- It’s completely gluten-free and thus helps in avoiding any sort of gastric distress upon consumption.
- If you are experiencing stomach trouble with your current protein powder, you can opt for pea protein.
6. Brown Rice Protein Powder
Though many won’t believe, But yes, Brown rice is a rich source of protein and the protein powder extracted from them is completely plant-based and offers an array of benefits which many other plant based proteins fail to offer.
As per a recent 8-week long study conducted by comparing the benefits of the whey protein against the brown rice protein, it was concluded that both offer a similar set of benefits as far as muscle strength, muscle recovery and body composition are concerned.
Vital Facts About Brown Rice Protein Powder
- While it offers many benefits similar to whey protein, but, it can’t be regarded as a complete protein because it lacks in leucine, an essential amino acid.
- Brown rice protein can be paired with other animal-based proteins to derive an exhaustive array of benefits
7. Egg Protein Powder
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and their protein quality is incredible. The protein derived from eggs is easily digestible too.
Egg protein is an animal based protein powder which is made from the egg whites. The removal of egg yolks from the protein results in reduced feeling of fullness that one gets after consuming the protein.
Egg protein is a good protein and offers an array of benefits including muscle mass development and recovery after a workout.
Vital Facts About Egg Protein
- Egg protein contains all nine essential amino acids that our body requires.
- When it comes to the concentration of leucine, an amino acid which is responsible for maintaining good muscle health, muscle strength and mass, egg protein is only behind the whey protein.
- Egg protein does not reduce our appetites like whey or casein protein
- Egg protein can prove exceptionally good for female athletes who want to gain muscle strength and lean mass.
8. Mixed Plant Based Protein Powders
Apart from these primary protein powders, there are some protein powders which are developed vegan people or the ones who have allergies to animal-based products. These mixed blend protein powders are made from combining two or more plant based sources of protein to ensure that the resultant protein powder contains all the essential amino acids.
The plant based proteins are made by combining two or more protein sources, including quinoa, flax seeds, alfalfa, peas, artichokes, Chia seeds, hemp and brown rice etc.
Owing to their high fiber content, the plant based proteins are digested much more slowly when compared to animals based proteins.
While it is not a big problem, but, after the workout, our body needs some amino acids immediately, and only animals based proteins can be digested so swiftly. This is why animal based proteins are ideal as the post workout supplement.
Forms of Protein Powders
Commonly, there are three forms of protein powders, and each type of powders can be found in one of these forms.
1. Protein Concentrates
These powders are prepared from the protein extracted from the dietary protein sources or the whole foods. Either the protein sources undergo a treatment of heats and acids or the enzymes, and the resultant protein powder comprises of about 70% and 30% carbohydrates and fats.
2. Protein Isolates
Protein isolates derived from protein concentrates which are filtered further, to remove the carbohydrates and fats. That’s why these powders offer up to 90% – 95% protein and just 5% – 10 % are the carbohydrates and fats.
3. Protein Hydrolysates
To produce the protein hydrolysates, the protein isolates are further heated using different types of treatment to break the bonds between the amino acids. As the bonds are broken, our body is able to absorb the protein easily and much faster, and thus, our muscles are able to utilize the consumed protein much easily.
Now that you know “what is the best protein powder”, and “how should you consume it”, there shouldn’t be any confusion. But, always remember that you shouldn’t necessarily consume the protein powder if you are eating a normal and healthy diet, and are not undergoing strenuous workouts.