Many people know they need to increase their protein intake, especially if they want to build and repair muscle.
What does Protein Do for Our Health?
Protein is full of amino acids. These amino acids have been shown to reduce diseases. Amino acids help fuel the working muscles and helps in the speed of recover after exercising.
Protein is necessary to repair cells in the body. Again, protein builds and repairs muscles and bones. Protein is a great source for energy and helps control processes of metabolism.
If you are interested in knowing how much protein you need each day, check the resource bar and click on protein calculator
Types of Protein Powders: A Crash Course
There are essentially two major types of protein powders available today; protein that comes from animals and plant protein powders.
Animal Based Protein Powders
One of the major types of animal protein is whey. This is a dairy based protein that is found in milk and is a byproduct when making cheese. Though whey is found less in milk than other types of proteins, it is by far the most popular type of protein powder on the market today due its superior taste and low cost.
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) – Concentrate has low levels of fats and carbohydrates. Concentrate blends can vary wildly in the amount of protein with some being below 50% protein and others being 89% protein.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) – Isolate is higher in than the concentrate in the amount of protein in the blend. Usually from 90 – 95% protein, containing very little lactose ingredients. Isolate is also generally lower in fat.
Whey Protein Hydrolyzed (WPH) – An even further broken down version of whey, WPH usually has even an even higher percentage of protein relative to the rest of the blend.
The other type of animal protein used in protein powders is casein. This protein is also found in milk, being the majority protein in the substance. Though whey protein is much more popular, casein protein powders have many benefits as well and is often used in blends with whey protein.
This protein powder has long been popular, but is making even more of a resurgence due to it being one of the few paleo friendly protein powders. It is lactose free and contains all of the amino acids that we want to gain from a protein powder.
Plant Based Protein Powders
There are four major types of protein powders that are plant based.
This type of protein powder has been the most popular plant-based protein for quite sometime. It is low cost and is has many similar benefits as weigh protein. It is the closest plant protein to the animal based proteins.
Pea proteins are popular with vegans and people who may not like the association of GMO’s with soy proteins. Pea protein powders have all the necessary amino acids needed for our body, but does lack some of the the secondary amino acids.
Brown rice protein also contains the necessary amino acids for your body, but same as pea proteins, it lacks some secondary amino acids animal based proteins will provide. Also it doesn’t give a good amount of even the necessary amino acids, so it certainly should be your sole source of protein. Brown rice powders have become popular by vegans and people with allergies.
Hemp types of protein powders are good for increased overall nutrition. It is a complete protein, but you get less. However, hemp protein powders provide other valuable nutrients such as fatty acids that can help your overall health.
Whey protein powders are the most popular available on the market. They are also among the cheapest. They are one of the two dairy based protein powders, the other being casein. Whey protein powders are made as a byproduct of the cheese making process. There are three main types of whey protein powders; whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI), and whey protein hydrolyzed (WPH).
Whey protein concentrate powders are the most readily available and popular form of whey protein powders. It has a wildly varying content of protein starting from below 50% up to 89%. Though whey protein concentrate blends don’t usually have a lot of fat, but more so than the other types of whey protein powders. The extra fat and sugar help whey concentrate protein powders taste good. WPC powders are the cheapest form of whey protein powders.
The next most popular whey protein powders are the isolates. Whey protein isolate powders have less fat and sugar than concentrate. Isolates are at least 90% protein. Less fat and sugar means a less pleasant taste than whey concentrates. Isolates are made by further purifying concentrates. Isolates also have the benefit of being faster digesting. However, because of the extra processing isolates are more expensive than concentrates.
Hands down whey protein hydrolyzed is the fastest digesting protein on the market. It is even further broken down from isolates and contains anywhere from 95% to 99% protein. This is the worst tasting type of whey protein. Hydrolyzed whey protein is also the most expensive type due to the even further processing of the product.
Pros of Whey Protein Powders:
- The most complete protein available on the market.
- Great for building lean muscle.
- Fast digestion makes this an ideal post-workout supplement.
- Whey protein concentrate is among the best tasting protein powders available.
- Concentrate is among the cheapest protein powders.
Cons of Whey Protein Powders:
- Lactose, a dairy sugar, is prevalent in these powders, especially the whey protein concentrate. Lactose is a fairly common allergen. Vegans are also eliminated from using this powder.
- Whey powders are especially known for having unnatural ingredients added such as artificial ingredients.
- While whey protein concentrate is known for its good tastes. Isolate and hydrolyzed powders tend to be less tasty than the concentrate and many other powders available.
- Isolate and hydrolyzed powders tend to be some of the more expensive protein powders out on the market.
Whey protein powders are some of the best packages available today. They are readily available and are proven to fast digesting for a great post-workout supplement. Vegans, people sensitive to lactose, and those trying to avoid artificial flavoring may have to look elsewhere. For the average person, whey is a great place to start with proven results!
The less popular version of the two dairy proteins, casein protein powders are much slower digesting than the whey proteins. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just depends on what your needs are. Casein protein is popular with bodybuilders.
Pros of Casein Protein Powders:
- The biggest thing casein protein powders have going for them is the highest glutamine content of any type of protein powder available. Glutamine is very important to those looking to gain weight or build muscle; hence the reason casein is popular with bodybuilders.
- Because of the long digestion time of casein protein, this is the protein that should be taken before bed.
- Casein protein powders are among the best tasting. This type of protein has a thick, creamy mouthfeel and good natural flavors.
- Casein protein powders are good meal replacements due to it being a slow digesting protein. It can help you feel full longer.
Cons of Casein Protein Powders:
- Casein protein powders are among the most expensive types available, especially compared to the other dairy protein, whey.
- Casein proteins have a high lactose content. This means people who are sensitive or allergic will not be able to use this type of powder.
- While casein protein powders are good for meal replacements and before bed, this type of protein is not ideal for post-workout. This is because of the slow digesting nature of the protein.
Casein protein powders are certainly a viable option for a certain group of people. This group of people would be people who are looking to gain weight and muscle quickly. Casein protein powders are very popular among bodybuilders because of the high glutamine content. The average person will most likely be better off going with some other type of protein powder or a whey and casein blend.
Egg white protein is a very high quality animal protein, though like all types there are drawbacks. Egg whites have long been a preferred source of protein from bodybuilders to those just looking to supplement their intake, and the protein powder made from these egg whites is very popular as well. Egg protein is middle of the road in terms of how long it takes to digest.
Pros of Egg White Protein Powders:
- Egg white protein powder is a very high quality protein. It has all the necessary amino acids.
- One scoop of egg protein powders often have up to 5x as much protein as in one egg white!
- This type of protein in free of lactose so people who may be sensitive to whey or casein proteins can still get high quality protein from this powder.
- Generally are fat-free, but still full of other vitamins and minerals.
Cons of Egg White Protein Powders:
- Though lactose is a popular allergy, egg allergies are also somewhat common.
- Egg white protein powders are not quite as good at being absorbed by the body as the milk based protein whey. This means that you’re actually getting less than someone who is taking whey with the same amount of protein grams.
- Depending on the where the eggs used have came from, there could be dangerous diseases that have survived the process.
- Egg white protein powders are, on average, one of the more expensive powders on the market.
- Egg white protein powders are known as one of the worst tasting proteins available.
Egg white protein powders are a great option for non-vegetarians, non-vegans, and people who are not allergic to eggs. They provide some of the highest quality protein available. However, this high quality protein comes at a price. Egg white protein powders are among the most expensive. Overall, a great option for people who believe in the power of egg whites.
Even though soy is a fairly common allergen, soy protein powders have been the most popular form of plant protein for sometime. Soy has come under some scrutiny in recent years leading to many conflicting reports about whether soy has enough benefits that outweigh the risk. That is for you to decide. Here are some of the major pros and cons of soy protein powders.
Pros of Soy Protein Powders:
- Soy has the best amino acid profile of any plant-based protein powder and includes many other beneficial nutrients. It is the closest plant protein to animal based proteins such as whey.
- Often cheap compared to other powders because of the massive amount of soy produced.
- Soy is a highly digestible protein. This means that your body is able to use more of the protein that you get from the soy protein powder than some of the other types of protein powders available.
Cons of Soy Protein Powders:
- Very hard to find soy that is not largely processed. GMO is a word associated heavily with soy due to the prevalence of genetically modifying soy to produce more crops. Non-GMO soy protein powders will be significantly more expensive in all likelihood.
- Soy allergies are not uncommon.
- Many soy protein powders will have less protein grams per scoop than many other protein powders. Depending on what you are looking to do, be sure to look at the label to know how much protein is in each serving.
- Because soy is so cheap, there is already soy in much of the food we eat. Therefore, it may be unnecessary to supplement your protein intake with more soy.
If you are someone who is not too concerned with GMO’s and do not have a soy allergy, soy protein powders can be a very viable option. Soy has a great protein profile and on its own is certainly the best plant-based protein powder for those looking for a traditional protein powder.
Though pea protein was long though to be missing some of the essential amino acids of proteins, we now know this is no longer the case. Pea protein has become popular with vegetarians, vegans, and people who may have allergies. Pea protein is slow digesting. Below are some pros and cons of pea protein powders:
Pros of Pea Protein Powders:
- Pea Protein powders have a good amino acid profile, containing all of the essential amino acids. Pea protein also contains many non-essential amino acids.
- Pea protein is definitely allergen friendly! There are many protein powder users who may have one or more allergies to other types of protein. Peas also contain no gluten.
- Pea Protein powders are often organic and almost always non-GMO. This should still be clarified, as there are some that are not non-GMO.
- Pea protein is full of iron.
- For those following certain diets such as low-carb, pea protein can be useful with a scoop containing a mere 1-4 grams.
Cons of Pea Protein Powders:
- Though pea protein powders are usually highly digestible, they are slightly less so than whey protein. This means your body is able to absorb and use less protein per gram than whey.
- Often, the taste of pea protein powders will not be as pleasant as other types of protein, especially animal protein powders.
- For those looking to build muscle, animal proteins may be a better option. This is because pea protein powders will contain less of certain amino acids, specifically ones that are responsible for muscle growth, than animal proteins.
- While pea proteins are usually cheaper per ounce, they are less digestible than whey. This means you will need to take more pea protein to get the same value to your body as the whey protein.
Pea protein powders are certainly a viable option for plant based protein powders. These powders are especially useful for those who may have allergies. Vegetarians and vegans will also find the pea proteins especially useful. People who are looking at weight issues may also consider pea protein. Since it is a slow digesting protein, it may help you feel full longer than other fast acting proteins.
Brown rice protein powders are made in a similar process to hydrolyzed whey protein. The powder is made by extracting the protein from the rice, which is mostly a carbohydrate. Like other plant based protein powders, brown rice has become popular with vegetarians, vegans, and people with allergies.
Pros of Brown Rice Protein Powders:
- Brown rice protein powders are easily digestible by the body. Since it is easily digestible your body can use a very good percentage of the protein you intake from the powder.
- High in sulfur containing amino acids.
- Allergen friendly! For those who may have trouble with common allergens found in other proteins such as lactose and soy, brown rice protein may be the best option.
- Brown rice protein powders can be a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Cons of Brown Rice Protein Powders:
- While this protein contains many amino acids, it is not a complete protein, due to missing some essential amino acids.
- Brown rice protein powder has a more noticeable flavor than most other proteins that is hard to hide. It is known for a chalky flavor.
- There are many good amino acids in this type of protein powder. However, it is also lacking in a major amino acid. Brown rice protein is noticeably lacking in lysine compared to other protein powders. Lysine is known for its muscle-building properties.
Overall, brown rice protein powders can be a great option for people looking to boost their overall nutrition profile. This type of powder is especially useful for people with allergies to other protein powders such as whey or soy. If possible, people looking to quickly build muscle or gain weight may be better off looking at some other options. This protein powder shouldn’t be your sole protein supplement. Brown rice protein powders are best used when combined with other types of protein.
Hemp has become more popular in recent years due to studies showing the many benefits that hemp can provide. Hemp protein powders are becoming more and more popular with vegetarians, vegans, and people with allergens. Hemp is a popular candidate for organic protein powders and is made from the seeds of the cannabis plant.
Pros of Hemp Protein Powders:
- Hemp has a great amino acid profile. It is a complete protein.
- Hemp protein powders are allergy friendly. People who are sensitive to lactose, soy, or other products found in some protein powders may find hemp to be their best option.
- Hemp is full of many other nutrients other than just protein including healthy fatty acids, fiber, and iron. The fatty acids can reduce risk of heart disease and fiber makes you feel full longer, possibly helping with weight loss.
Cons of Hemp Protein Powders:
- Hemp protein powders often have less grams of protein per serving, falling in the 13-20g per serving range. Combine this with the fact that your body absorbs less protein from a hemp source than other sources, such as whey and casein, and you are getting significantly less protein.
- Though the high fiber content of hemp protein is also listed as a benefit, it can be considered a con. For those looking to gain muscle/weight, this increased amount of fiber will lead you to feel full quicker and longer. This may impair the ability to eat more and keep up with a muscle building diet.
Hemp protein powders are a great source of protein and other nutrients for your body. For those looking who are looking to for something to boost their entire nutrition and not just build muscle, hemp protein can be a great choice. Those looking into protein powders just for athletics or to build muscle may want to look into other alternatives.
Optimum Nutrition (ON) Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder – 1 lb (Double Rich Chocolate)
24 grams of whey protein per serving with whey protein isolates as the primary ingredient and just 1 gram of sugar and 1 gram of fat
5 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs
Over 4 grams of glutamine and glutamic acid in each serving
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