If you are looking for your first protein powder and you are completely overwhelmed with all the choice, then take heart, you’re not alone. Here is a crash course in whey protein to get you started.
At first you will be overloaded with different names like whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey, casein, soy, whole egg, egg whites and the list goes on. However, let’s take a quick look at each protein, so we can see the basic benefits these powders offer.
Whey and Casein Protein Powder
Whey and casein are two proteins that make up the total protein content of cow’s milk. Both these proteins contain an excellent amino acids profile that is great for building muscles. The difference between the two is that whey is a fast-digesting protein that feeds muscle fast, making it a great post workout protein, whereas casein is a slow digesting protein that has lasting effects, making it great before bedtime and as snacks throughout the day to keep feeding muscles for hours at a time.
Just to make things more complicated, whey protein powder comes in three main kinds, whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey. The difference between the three is in quality and consequently – price.
Whey protein concentrate is the cheaper form of whey that contains around 80% pure whey protein and the rest consists of milk fat and milk sugar that some people have difficulty digesting.
Whey protein isolate takes the middle ground in quality and price. It is usually between 90 to 100% pure whey protein, is easier to digest and feeds muscles a little quicker than the whey concentrates.
Hydrolyzed whey is the highest quality of all protein powders, whether they are whey or not. Essentially, hydrolyzed whey is whey protein isolates that have gone under extra processing methods to break the proteins down into peptides. Normally our digestive system would break down protein into peptides (peptides are three amino acids joined together) and then into amino acids that can then enter the blood stream. Because hydrolyzed whey is already in peptide form it creates little work for our digestion, and the amino acids reach our muscles all the quicker. If you’re not short on cash, hydrolysed whey is the ultimate post-workout protein.
Soy protein powder, and even soy itself is at the center of a lot of controversy at present. For that reason it is a good idea to avoid soy protein powder, at least until there is more clarity about its side effects. An extra note would be that soy protein isn’t necessarily the best for bodybuilding because it increases estrogen production in the body. Estrogen is not great for growing muscle, unlike testosterone. On the other hand, soy protein may be good for women during the menopause when estrogen levels drop drastically.
Egg Protein Powder
Good old egg powder has been going strong for decades. You can buy it either as whole egg, or egg white powder. Whole egg powder is only second to whey protein as the best protein source for building muscle, but it does come with all the extra fat and cholesterol that egg yolks contain. Egg white powder is not quite as effective as whole egg for building muscle, but is still very good at it! Egg powder is a great cheaper alternative to whey or for those who have problems digesting milk based protein powders like whey and casein.
I hope that helps you understand protein powders better, so you can make the right choice for you!