There are a lot of different protein powders on the market today. If you feel overwhelmed sometimes, you are not alone. That is not to say it is a bad thing. Protein powders have come a long way throughout the years, with many more options from which to choose. Whey and casein protein are two of the more popular protein supplements, but they are certainly not the only options.
This article is designed to give you a brief overview and hopefully a better understanding of some of the protein powders and supplements so you can choose what works best for you.
Whey protein is a quality, complete protein that is rich in amino acids. It is great for muscle growth, muscle repair and fat loss. Whey is a dairy-based protein which may eliminate it as an option for anyone who is lactose-intolerant. Whey is considered to be more of a muscle-building protein, or anabolic protein. Whey protein is also digested into the body very rapidly, which cannot be said for all protein supplements. This make, s it an excellent choice to take before or after your workout because it will fuel your muscles quickly. Whey is also thought to be one of the most thermogenic protein choices making it effective in burning extra calories. Whey protein is easily mixed with milk or even water, and can be added to yogurt, your favorite nut butter, or shake.
Like whey, casein protein is also a quality, complete protein that is rich in amino acids and can help with muscle growth, but there are some differences. Contrary to whey, casein digests slowly which is why many refer to it as the “slow protein.” It can take anywhere from 5 to 7 hours to digest after reaching the stomach. For this reason, casein is good at preventing muscle breakdown since it releases a steady flow of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Casein helps you stay full longer, so it is a great protein choice when your next meal may be hours away, or before fasting or bed. Casein can also be added to milk, water or yogurt.
Soy protein is isolated from soybean and is a plant-based protein. Many tout soy protein as a great alternative protein supplement for those that are lactose-intolerant. Yet, soy protein isolate has become a controversial talking point. While being an option for the dairy-sensitive may be true, soy in general is not something I incorporate into my diet. However, if you are a vegetarian, vegan or lactose-intolerant, soy protein may be a viable option for you. Read up on it, though, to make sure it is right for you as some of the controversy is based on factors such as metal contamination, pesticide risk, concentrated isoflavones which mimic estrogen, among others. On the other hand, soy protein has been said to improve cholesterol levels in women and even relieve menopausal symptoms.
The days of drinking down a glass of raw eggs is no longer the only option to take advantage of an egg-based protein. With some of the health concerns about eggs alleviated, egg protein is becoming one of the most popular protein supplements. In fact, this is what I use in my fruit smoothies for some added protein. The protein found in these egg protein powders is primarily from egg-white isolates, which makes it a good alternative for those sensitive to dairy. The best egg protein is that made completely from egg whites. The calorie count of egg protein is very similar to that of why protein, coming in at approximately 100 calories per scoop.
Ultimately, if you have done your research and still are unsure of which protein supplement to choose, talk to a professional. Find a local registered dietician or nutrition, or even try speaking with your primary care physician, to help find the best protein source for you and in the right amount to meet your daily protein needs.