I get a ton of questions revolving around protein powder and which one is best. I do take protein powder, but I had stopped once I became pregnant-I actually stopped all supplements-just to be on the safe side. Each and every protein out there is so different and the key is to finding the best one to suit your needs.. and your taste buds! Let’s learn more about protein powders, the types, and why we need protein in our lives.
Protein powders are very popular for good reasons.
• More convenient than high-protein foods like meats, fish, eggs and dairy;
• Either fat and cholesterol-free or contain only a small fraction of the fat
and cholesterol found in high-protein foods;
• Money-savers when compared to high-protein foods like meats and fish;
• Beneficial in ways beyond merely supplying extra protein;
• Great-tasting and can be used by the whole family.
So why do we need protein?
Of the 21 amino acids coded for by the DNA of multicellular organisms, adult humans can only synthesize 12 of them. The other nine must be consumed in the diet, so we call them essential amino acids.
Some nutrients, like vitamin B12, are stored within the body and released when needed—so though we must consume a certain amount on average, we don’t have to do so every day in order to keep ourselves healthy.
Unfortunately, we have no way to store amino acids. We have a tremendous capacity to store fat in fat cells, and a very limited capacity to store glucose (as glycogen in our muscles and liver)—but we must either use amino acids to synthesize proteins, burn them for energy, convert them to glucose, or (very rarely, and if all else fails) excrete them.
Therefore, humans have a daily requirement for each one of the amino acids necessary to life, in the quantities required by whatever proteins the trillions of cells in our bodies are making (minus our ability to synthesize some of them).
So which protein type is right for me?
The types of protein used in protein powders can be divided into two categories: animal source proteins and vegetable source proteins. Animal source proteins include milk protein derivatives like whey and casein, goat’s milk and egg white protein. Vegetable source proteins include soy, rice, pea and hemp proteins.
Nutritionally and taste-wise, animal proteins are superior to vegetable proteins and far more popular. Of the animal protein types, the most popular is whey protein. Of the vegetable protein types, soy is the most popular. Most people using vegetable protein powders do so as part of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, although many people use soy protein primarily for its heart-health and/or hormone-balancing benefits.
Whey protein is derived from milk. The protein portion of whole milk consists of 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein. Whey is by far the most popular type of protein used in protein powders. For most people, it’s the best all-around choice in terms of taste (it’s one of the best-tasting), quality (it’s the highest) and cost (it’s the most economical). Another unique benefit of whey protein, and one that is often overlooked, is that it enhances the immune system in several ways.
Whey protein comes in two varieties, whey concentrate and whey isolate. The advantages of each are:
Whey Concentrate: Whey concentrate is more economical per gram of protein. It has a low lactose level that is well tolerated by most lactose-sensitive people. It has trivial amounts of fat and carbs relative to your overall nutrient intake. Whey concentrate is typically the best-selling category of whey.
Whey Isolate: Whey isolate is virtually fat-free for those wishing to eliminate as much fat from their diet as possible. It is typically lactose free for those few individuals who are very sensitive to the low-lactose levels found in whey concentrate. Whey isolate tends to taste slightly better than whey concentrate too, yet its consistency is a little thinner, without the fat.
Whey protein products can be made from whey concentrate, whey isolate or a blend of both. Other types of protein are sometimes combined with whey proteins in products and are known as protein blends.
Casein or Milk Protein
Like whey protein, casein protein is another milk protein derivative. Since most of the protein (80%) in milk is casein, the terms “milk protein” and “casein protein” are used interchangeably. The key difference between whey and casein is that whey is absorbed in the digestive system quickly, whereas casein is absorbed slowly and steadily. Taste-wise they are similar. Both are more or less tasteless in their unflavored and unsweetened state.
Customers often ask which is better, whey or casein. That’s a hard question to answer because both have unique benefits.
Egg White Protein
Egg white protein was the most popular type of protein supplement for many years before milk proteins surpassed its popularity due to their better taste and lower cost.
Like milk proteins, egg white is also naturally very low in fat and carbs.
Egg white protein is cholesterol-free and an excellent choice for those who wish to avoid dairy products.
Among the vegetable source proteins, soy protein is by far the most popular. Soy and hemp are unique among vegetable protein sources in that they supply all 8 essential amino acids. Most vegetable proteins lack one or more.
Soy has additional benefits, too. The isoflavones in soy provide antioxidant benefits, heart health benefits and is often used by women transitioning through menopause.
For all its benefits, soy protein has a characteristic taste that, while not unpleasant, can be hard to completely mask with flavors and sweeteners, especially when soy is the sole protein source in a product.
And all of this helps while I am working out because…?
Intense workouts take a toll on your muscles. Muscle protein breaks down during exercise and undergoes repair during post-workout recovery. In addition, synthesizing new muscle fibers occurs between workout sessions. Directly following a workout, your muscles are primed to begin the repair process and to incorporate amino acids into new muscle fibers.
Here is my favorite protein smoothie. I call it my Protein Latte!
You will need:
1-2 scoops of your favorite protein (Use MRM Natural Vanilla Whey
and take 40% off your entire order by using coupon code SIA at checkout!)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coffee (more or less depending on what consistency you like)
What to do:
Place ingredients into a blender bottle, shake, and enjoy.
To make this a yummy cold treat, add a few ice cubes and throw into a blender until smooth.