If you are just stepping on to the health-conscious wagon, you’ve probably heard the words “protein powder” more than a dozen times. And you’re probably wondering if you should be taking it as well. Maximizing muscle gain and fat loss are the main reasons people take protein powders. Gym-goers, athletes, the elderly, the ill, vegetarians, and vegans take protein powders if they feel that their regular diet is not providing them with as much protein as they require.
The different kinds of protein powders available can seem overwhelming to a first timer. Here’s a lowdown on the types of protein powder so you can decide which is best for you.
1. Whey Protein
[pullquote]Whey protein will help build muscle, reduce appetite, and promote fat loss as well.[/pullquote]
Derived from cow’s milk, whey protein is claimed by many health enthusiasts to be the best protein shake. It is rich in branched-chain amino acids. Although high in protein concentration, it does, however, contain lactose which many people find difficult to digest.
One of the main benefits of taking whey protein is the fact that it promotes muscle growth and recovery from endurance and resistance training.1 2 It is a quickly digested protein, which means that if you have it after a session at the gym, it will reach your muscles very quickly indeed.
After a grueling workout, drinking a whey protein shake will replenish you and help prevent muscle breakdown. You could also make a smoothie by blending in some milk, fruits and ice cubes, giving you an extra protein boost. Drinking a whey protein shake first thing in the morning will leave you feeling full throughout the day. You could also add a scoop to your bowl of cereal.
2. Casein Protein
[pullquote]Casein is an excellent protein powder for those looking to lose weight.[/pullquote]
Although casein, like whey, is also derived from milk, the digestion of casein is much slower. Since the rate of muscle protein breakdown is more gradual, the absorption of amino acids into the bloodstream is also slower than whey, for example.3
It is a great addition to meal-replacement smoothies and will leave you feeling full for a long time. Because casein releases energy slowly, experts suggest casein be taken as a smoothie before bed or between meals, when the need for energy is not immediate.
3. Egg Protein
[pullquote]Eggs are a complete protein source because it contains the nine essential amino acids which your body can’t make for itself.[/pullquote]
Egg protein is made of egg whites that are dried and powdered. For those who are allergic to dairy or just don’t like to consume dairy, egg protein is a good alternative as a high-quality, complete protein supplement.
Egg white protein is particularly apt for those worried about the chemical and mechanical processing that some protein powders undergo. It is naturally devoid of carbs and fat which means that it undergoes minimal processing in the factory. Your appetite will reduce when you consume egg protein since eggs help you stay full for a long time.4
You can consume egg protein without cooking or baking since it’s pasteurized (the possibility of salmonella contamination is eliminated due to the pasteurization process). By using egg protein powder in dishes that usually call for whole eggs, you will be cutting down on the fat and cholesterol consumed. It is an excellent ingredient to regular breakfast dishes like pancakes.
4. Pea Protein
[pullquote]Pea protein is hypoallergenic, just like most other plant-based proteins.[/pullquote]
Yellow split pea, the source of pea protein, is the most highly digestible of the plant proteins. For those with digestive issues or are not keen on taking protein made from animal products or soy, pea protein is a good alternative. However, since it’s low in certain amino acids, it is advisable to take it along with another plant-based protein (like rice or hemp) so that you get the complete amino acid profile.
Pea protein is particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids.5 It promotes muscle growth as effectively as animal-based protein sources.
One delicious way to have pea protein is to combine it with water, dates, banana, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Blend these together until it is completely smooth. Finish off by blending in some ice and enjoy a delicious and filling shake.
5. Hemp Protein
[pullquote]Hemp protein is a good source of branch-chained amino acids which is essential for growth and repair of lean body tissue[/pullquote]
Hemp protein is yet another plant-based supplement which is not considered to be a complete protein. Hemp protein may be lacking in the essential amino acids lysine and leucine, but it does have a high omega-3 fatty acid content.6
This easily digested protein can be had for breakfast: Simply blend the hemp protein powder with the milk of your choice (and any other ingredients you like) to make a smoothie or shake before or after a workout. You could also add it to your cereal, pancake mix, yogurt, muffins or brownies.
Tips To Keep In Mind While Picking Out Your Powder
Once you have mulled over and decided which type of protein is most apt for your requirements, you still have to narrow down on which brand of the protein you should pick. Here are our top tips you should remember while you are on the hunt for the perfect protein powder:
- Look out for artificial sweeteners. Companies sometimes use it instead of real sugar to keep carb count low.
- Make sure that the first ingredient in the ingredient list is the protein that it is marketed as, for example, whey isolate.
- Ensure that the list of ingredients is short.
- If possible, choose a neutral flavor.
- If you eat organic or non-GMO foods, pick out the same in a powder.
It is important to note that there are ongoing debates about the effectiveness of taking protein supplements.7 According to research, a diet that has sufficient protein is better than taking supplements. Because you get a lot of other nutrients besides protein, like vitamins from eggs. It is also argued that if you follow a healthy diet with sufficient proteins, additional supplements will not benefit your body.