When people think of protein supplements, they immediately picture hulking great muscle-heads who spend most of their time in the gym pumping iron and building their bodies. Whilst protein supplements are indeed beneficial for bodybuilders, they’re also extremely beneficial for other active individuals, and many others as well. There are some people that have never set foot in a gym in their lives that use protein supplements on a daily basis for a number of different reasons. Each and every single one of us is unique and different to the other, and so naturally we all have different goals and targets in mind. If we were to ask you to buy a protein supplement that would be best suited when consumed late at night before bed, would you know which protein to select? Not all protein powder supplements are exactly alike, and in reality some are more beneficial than others, although again, it depends on what exactly you plan on using the protein for. Protein powder supplements are ideal for building muscle, for post workout or post exercise recovery, for increasing protein content, for providing a healthy meal when time is against you, and much more besides. The main issue is that beginners tend to struggle when selecting a protein powder because there’s so much to choose from. Here’s a look at six of the different types of protein powder you may come across.
Whey protein concentrate
This is the most popular sports supplement currently on the market and it is beneficial in so many different ways. Whey protein is a natural by-product of milk, left behind when milk separates into cheese. The milk separates into cheese curds which are solids, and whey protein, which is a liquid. The liquid is filtered, powdered, processed, and enriched with other nutrients until you’re left with a protein powder. As it is from concentrate however, the protein content is made up of around 75 – 85% protein, with the remaining 15 – 25% being made up of fats and carbohydrates. Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein which means that once consumed, it quickly makes its way into your system where it can be delivered to your muscles to assist with their growth and repair. Because of its fast rate of digestion and absorption, whey protein is perfect for post-workout nutrition, where the aim is to restore muscle glycogen levels and flood cells within the muscles with protein, amino acids, and other nutrients essential for post-workout recovery.
Whey protein isolate
Whey protein isolate is basically the same as whey protein concentrate, except it is a much purer source of protein. Whereas whey concentrate is typically 75 – 85% protein, depending on how good a quality the protein is to begin with, whey protein isolates are typically 85 – 95% pure protein, which means per serving you absorb more protein, and also ingest less fats and carbohydrates. As it is purer and of a much better quality, whey isolate is more expensive than whey concentrate, though if your budget will allow, try to go with isolate as it is definitely worth a few bucks more.
Sometimes referred to as protein hydrolysate, hydrolyzed protein is basically a form of protein supplement which has undergone a process known as hydrolysis, which causes it to be broken down into much smaller amino acids and chains which are known as peptides. Of the calories consumed via hydrolyzed protein, more than 90% come from pure protein and as an added bonus, it too is very easily absorbed and denatured, which means its natural structure will be altered. This is especially important because it can then be considered hypoallergenic, which means people with various food allergies such as dairy, lactose, or soy, could still consume the hydrolyzed protein. Some say that hydrolyzed protein and whey protein are the same, although there is evidence to suggest that hydrolyzed protein could be even more rapidly absorbed than whey. The bottom line is that if you suffer from food allergies, hydrolyzed protein could be ideal.
Casein protein is another best-seller and it too is derived from milk, though it is very, very different when compared with whey. When milk separates into cheese, it forms solids, or semi-solids known as curds, like we mentioned previously. Casein protein is actually found within the curds and works by gradually raising plasma amino acids in a slow and controlled manner. It is also better for sustaining long-term protein synthesis and helping to naturally reduce muscle breakdown and wastage. The main benefit of casein protein however, is that it is a slow-digesting and slow-absorbing protein, as opposed to whey, which is fast digesting. For this reason, casein protein will most commonly be consumed late at night just before going to bed, as it will help provide a steady stream of protein and nutrients to the body, helping to keep the body in an anabolic state.
Egg white protein
No prizes for guessing where this protein comes from, but yes, not surprisingly, egg white protein is indeed derived from egg whites. For people who can’t consume dairy, soy, or gluten, egg white protein is ideal for food allergy sufferers as it is enriched with protein and also boasts a complete amino acid profile in the process. It is actually very similar to whey protein in chemical structure and it can certainly be considered a fast-absorbing protein rather than a slow one.
Vegetable plant-based protein
For vegans and vegetarians, there are also a number of different protein powder sources currently available, all of which have proven very healthy and effective, particularly when it comes to muscle growth and repair. Typical examples of these proteins include:
These proteins are all great sources of natural amino acids and contain impressive amounts of protein as well. With the flax seed protein, there’s also the added benefit of additional healthy fats from the flax seeds as well. For the easiest to digest protein however, soy protein is probably your best bet.