Which Protein Powder Is Best for Me?
April 26, 2016
When faced with the staggering variety of protein powders, it can be extremely difficult to know which one to pick. Staring down a wall with whey, casein, soy, hemp, rice and even pea proteins divided up in isolates, concentrates, hydrolysates and tons of other varieties, people often having difficulty with one key question: Which protein powder is best for me?
To answer that, there are actually a number of individual factors to consider.
The first thing to consider when trying to pick the best protein powder for you is whether or not you have any dietary restrictions. Vegans, for example, would not want to use whey or casein since these are both derived from milk. Vegetarians who eat dairy, however, might be just fine with that.
But then, of course, there is the potential for allergies and intolerance. Whey contains lactose, which some people are intolerant to. Casein does contain lower levels of lactose – making it acceptable to some – but it is also possible to have an allergy to casein itself. It’s also important to point out that isolates of both whey and casein will have less lactose than concentrates, but this is achieved through excess processing that diminishes the bioavailability of other extremely beneficial nutrients.
Finally, soy is another popular protein source that is also a common allergen. Even if they do not have an allergy to the bean, many people chose to limit the amount of soy in their diet due to the potential negative health effects of various estrogen-like chemicals that it contains.
Once you sort out the protein powders that you cannot take, the next step is to decide why you want to take a protein powder to begin with.
If you’re looking to use it as a meal replacement, then you’ll want something that has a considerable amount of calories – in the right macronutrient balance – to keep you feeling full. Casein, which clumps up in your stomach and takes hours to fully digest, is uniquely good at this particular job.
For workout recovery, whey – which is absorbed into your system at an incredibly fast rate – is best.
Because it is rich in highly beneficial peptides, whey protein powder is also highly effective at improving overall health. Although we normally pay attention to the protein content of these products, whey packs other nutrients that can improve your blood pressure, improve your immune response and fight inflammation. Again, however, these substances are only present in whey protein concentrate.
Those looking to build a significant amount of muscle, though, should use a blend of both whey and casein. While they are both complete proteins that will supply you with everything you need, their different rates of absorption will ensure that you are constantly fueled.
Vegans with this goal will need to remember that not all plant-based protein powders are complete – meaning that they lack some of the essential amino acids. Fortunately, these can be found in the rest of your daily diet and your body will use them to fill in the gaps.
But, what if you’re trying to lose weight? By suppressing your appetite, naturally boosting your metabolism and contributing to the growth of calorie-hungry muscle fibers, any protein source will effectively support you here.