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What Are The Different Types Of Protein Powder?

Posted on September 28, 2018

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We all know that protein is good for us. It’s an important part of our diets, vital for growth, repair and the general upkeep and maintenance of our body. If you think your diet is lacking, protein powders are one of the most convenient and cost effective options. They may also be used to support exercise recovery.


But how do you know which protein powder is right for you?


And if you’re going to spend some hard-earned cash on one, then you’ll want to get the absolute best protein powder, right?


What is Whey Protein?

Derived from milk, whey protein is the most popular animal-derived sports nutrition supplement. This is because of the great nutritional benefits it has to offer. It has been shown to support fat burning, boost the immune system, decrease appetite, and boost muscle protein synthesis.


And it’s no surprise, given that is actually has a higher biological value than egg protein. This is most likely due to its rapid digestion and naturally high content of essential amino acids. So it certainly is a great all-rounder!


Whey protein is rapidly absorbed by the body, and can be taken directly after a workout, to support post-workout recovery. Alternatively, it may be taken with a low protein meal, between meals to keep hunger at bay or protein levels up, or ½ hour before exercise for mass gaining programs.


What are the 3 types of whey protein?

 

1) Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC):

 

This form of whey protein is the most cost-effective. Whey protein concentrate contains more lactose, fat and carbohydrates than whey protein isolate, as it is less filtered. 

 

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However, compared to whole food sourced protein, it is still very high in protein and low in calories. Unflavoured WPC typically contains around 80%protein.

 

Despite the fact that many refer to whey protein concentrate as a medium absorption protein, it only has a slightly slower absorption rate than the rapidly absorbed whey protein isolate, and still has an excellent bioavailability.

 

Despite the fact that many refer to whey protein concentrate as a medium absorption protein, it only has a slightly slower absorption rate than the rapidly absorbed whey protein isolate, and still has an excellent bioavailability.

 

2) Whey Protein Isolate (WPI):

Whey protein isolate is low in lactose and is virtually fat free. 

 

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This protein powder can even be used in moderation for those with slight lactose intolerance.

 

It's a purer form of protein that is absorbed rapidly to begin the recovery phase, supporting adaptation to exercise.

 

It contains more protein per gram than WPC. However, it is more expensive.




 

3) Hydrolysed Whey Protein:

Hydrolysed whey is broken down into smaller protein fragments, which makes it a virtually pre-digested product.

 

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The resulting protein fragments absorb faster and reach the muscle cell more rapidly than other protein sources, including WPI.

 

This type of product is particularly helpful for anyone wanting to get the absolute most effective protein available for recovery, or people with digestive difficulties.

 

Usually this form of protein comes as isolate, though there are hydrolysed whey protein concentrates available as well. For best results, be sure that it is a hydrolysed whey protein isolate, and that it does not contain other non-hydrolysed types of protein as well.


 

Casein and Milk Protein

Casein also comes from milk, and has many benefits similar to whey protein. However, unlike whey, casein is slow absorbing and long-lasting. It forms a gel in the stomach, which is filling and takes times to digest. 


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This means you get a sustained release effect, which will keep your muscles fed over a longer period of time. It is also a good form of protein for fat loss and satiety.

 

The slow release properties of this protein mean it is great to take right before bed. The term micellar casein indicates that the casein is taken out of the milk without the involvement of chemicals.

 

Because milk protein is mostly made up of casein (about 80%), the terms are often used interchangeably. Whey protein and casein can also be taken as combination, as the whey will act more rapidly, and the casein will help with sustenance.

 

Egg Albumin

As it is dairy free, egg protein is a great alternative for those who are lactose intolerant. The benefits of egg protein are also that it is very low in fat and carbs, while also being cholesterol free.

 

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Egg albumin (from the egg whites) stimulates muscle growth, and has been shown to increase lean-body mass more than other protein sources.


This makes it great for bodybuilders, while the satiety and reduction of appetite it provides also make it good for fat loss. Egg protein has a perfect biological value of 100.


All other forms of protein are compared to egg to see how they stack up.


Soy Protein

As a non-animal source protein, soy protein has been used by vegetarians and vegans for decades. This is because soy is very close to animal protein in amino acid content and quality. Like whey protein, soy protein is very effective in post workout recovery, as it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis very effectively.


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It also has great antioxidant benefits and being great for heart health and blood pressure. However, soy protein has quite a strong taste that some may not enjoy.  

 

Soy protein has gained a lot of negative media attention over the past decade or so due to concerns over thyroid interactions and oestrogen effects.

 

However, human research indicates that soy does not interfere with thyroid function or thyroid hormone absorption, as reported in Thyroid in 2006. Furthermore, soy contains phytoestrogen, which are weak oestrogens found in a number of plants and common foods. Phytoestrogens can actually displace stronger oestrogen from a receptor site, thus reducing the overall oestrogen burden. However, if someone is oestrogen deficient, such as during menopause, it may have an oestrogen promoting effect.


Pea Protein

Again great for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores, pea protein is an excellent alternative if you're unsure of using soy protein. It is easily digested and gluten free, and gives great satiety. 


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With an excellent amino acid profile and high levels of lysine and iron, this protein is great for meeting needs you may not be fulfilling with a limited diet.

 

Just watch out for the sodium content, which can be high in pea protein products.


If you are keeping your sodium intake low, you may like to try a plant protein blend that contains pea protein.


 


Rice Protein

Like pea protein, rice protein is gluten free and easy to digest, so it is good if you have gastrointestinal issues. It is also considered the least reactive out of all of the protein powders, which makes it perfect for anyone with multiple food allergies or sensitivities. Its protein content is almost as high as soy protein. 


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Low fat and low calorie, rice protein is good for weight loss, and it may also lower cholesterol.

 

As all grains are low in lysine, you may need to check the lysine content to ensure that it has enough, or find a plant-based protein blend. Lysine is an essential amino acid needed for protein synthesis and to support the immune system.

 

Without enough of this amino acid, the other essential amino acids will not be able to stimulate muscle regeneration as effectively. They all work as a team.

 

As you can see, the many different protein powders all have different benefits, unique to their amino acid content, protein structure and accessory nutrients. Which one you choose depends on your personal goals and dietary preferences.