Protein Powder 101-Everything you need to know

woman's hands holding a scoop of protein powder and a shaker

woman's hands holding a scoop of protein powder and a shaker

Protein Powder

Whether you are bodybuilding, trying to lose weight, or just trying to add more protein to your diet; I am sure you have seen the many options of protein powder to choose from. As you are walking around the perimeter of your local health and nutrition store, I am sure some of the following questions come to mind; 

  1. Should I add protein powder to my diet?
  2. If so, which protein powder is the right one for me?
  3. Why protein tho?
  4. When?
  5. Flavor? 
  6. Are those protein chips?! (yes, this is real…no, we are not a fan, but to each their own, lol)

Worry not, our friend; we got you. But before we give you all the info. As always, consult with your doctor before you take any supplements.  

Find out about a high protein diet and how much you should be eating,

Whey Protein Powder

  • Whey protein is 20-30% of the protein found in cow’s milk.
  • Mixes easily.
  • Fast digesting.
  • A great option if you are struggling to reach your protein intake target.
  • It does not harm the kidneys or liver unless there’s a preexisting condition.

There are three types of whey protein powders, and the main differences are the way they are processed and how fast the body absorbs them.

Whey concentrate:

  • Absorbed the slowest out of the three types.
  • It’s about 70-80% protein, and it contains lactose and fat.
  • Cheapest of the three types.

Whey isolate powder:

  • The most common type.
  • It comes in second place when it comes to the speed of absorption.
  • At least 90% protein.
  • It is moderately priced.

Whey hydrolysate/ hydrolyzed:

  • Predigested, so it’s absorbed super quickly.
  • Horrible flavor. I mean, it is bad, bad.
  • Hydrolyzed protein is the most expensive of the three whey protein powders.

With that being said, whey protein quickly enhances amino acid concentration in the blood.  Due to this, it may be more beneficial immediately post-workout than casein protein (1).

Check out this morning workout routine.

Casein Protein

  • Casein has 70-80% of the protein found in cow’s milk.
  • It is slow digesting.
  • It doesn’t mix very well.
  • More expensive than whey isolate and whey concentrate.
  • As with whey, it can help you reach your protein intake goals.
  • It can help with satiety.

When to drink it?

Casein protein is absorbed a lot slower than whey. By keeping amino acid levels raised for a longer duration of time, casein may be better to take when you aren’t able to eat for a few hours. I.e., before bed (2).

Do you need Casein protein powder?

Not necessarily.  You could just drink a glass of milk or eat some cottage cheese. Again, if you are struggling to hit your protein intake, then, by all means, go ahead.

We recommend that if you are struggling to reach your protein goals, buy whey protein isolate, and drink it with about a cup of milk. You are, therefore, getting the benefits of both whey and casein proteins.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

There are five different types of vegan proteins to choose from:

Soy protein powder:

  • A complete protein (it has all the essential amino acids)
  • Opt for soy protein isolate as it contains more isoflavones (compounds found in plants that help fight diseases), less fat and cholesterol than soy protein concentrate.

Pea protein:

  • Not a complete protein. An incomplete protein means you must pair it with another source of protein to get all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein).
  • Made out of field peas.
  • Easily digestible.

Brown rice:

  • Incomplete protein. Like pea protein, brown rice protein must be paired with another source to get the essential amino acid profile.
  • Do not worry about carbs. Brown rice protein is very low carb.  More than 80% of the starch is removed from the grains in the process of making brown rice protein.
  • Hypoallergenic. Gluten, lactose, and soy-free.

Hemp protein powder:

  • It contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • Hemp protein is beneficial to your heart health, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, helps with sugar cravings, improves your immune system, and improves your digestive system.

Protein blends:

  • Protein blends are a mixture of 2 or more sources of protein. I.e., soy, and rice protein.
  • The mixture of 2 or more types of proteins gives you a complete protein profile.
  • It also combines the added health benefits of the two protein sources.

What are complete and incomplete proteins?

Proteins are made out of amino acids. There are twenty different kinds of amino acids, of which the body can produce eleven of them. The remaining nine, “called essential amino acids” due to our bodies’ inability to create them, must come from our diet, supplements, or a combination of both.

An example of an essential amino acid is Leucine. Leucine has about a 10x more significant impact on the creation of skeletal muscle than any other amino acid in the body.

Whey, soy, and casein are examples of complete proteins. Pea and brown rice proteins are examples of incomplete proteins and, thus, should be paired with another source of protein to get all of the essential amino acids.

Do you need to buy protein supplements?

No. Only if you aren’t meeting your protein goals.

Is there a specific time I should be drinking protein? 

Yes and no. The most common time when to drink a protein shake is immediately after your workout. But It depends on when you had your last meal.

  • If you ate between 3 or more hours before your workout then go ahead and have one immediately after your workout.

We hope to have answered your questions regarding the different types of protein powders. Remember that if you are already eating enough protein, you won’t need any protein supplements.

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