Which Source Will You Get Your Protein From?
Of all the supplements available in the market, the most popular has to be protein powder.
There are many reasons why protein supplements are in high demand:
- It is an essential macronutrient.
- Protein powders are fortified with essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
- Powders provide a convenient way to get your daily requirement of protein anytime and anywhere.
- It is cheaper per gram of protein compared to whole food sources.
- It is easier to drink your protein that to chew on it.
Best of all, protein supplements are versatile. Whether your goal is to get big or get lean, protein powder should be part of your nutritional and supplement strategy.
The versatility of protein powder has encouraged scientists to find new ways to harness the power of this macronutrient.
Over the years, we’ve seen different types of protein hit the supplement market. Each type of protein has its unique features, ingredients and function.
First, let’s talk about protein. When you consume protein, its molecules are broken down into amino acids.
There are 20 amino acids needed to produce human protein. Of these, eight are considered essential which means they should be part of your diet.
A protein source that has a complete amino acid profile will have a high Protein Efficiency Ratio or PER.
A high PER score correlates to a high quality source of protein.
Keep in mind that some of these protein powders contain carbohydrates.
The carbohydrates found in protein are usually in the form of dextrose, fructose or maltodextrin which are all fast-acting sugars.
Some brands contain four grams of fibre to slow down the assimilation of protein.
Before you start your supplement program, have yourself medically cleared by your doctor or a licensed health professional.
Some protein supplements contain ingredients that you may be allergic to.
Here are the types of protein supplements you can find in the market. Which one fits your health and fitness program?
This is undoubtedly the most popular type of protein supplement for a good number of reasons.
First, it works the fastest. The Protein Efficiency Ratio or PER of whey protein is the highest among all protein sources. It is higher even than egg whites.
Second, whey protein is affordable. If you have been training for at least one year and want to include a nutritional program on a budget, whey protein is a good supplement to start with.
Third, it is fortified with other components you need to support your health and fitness goals.
Standard whey protein includes BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids including Glutamine which are essential for recovery.
Forth, most whey protein brands contain a negligible amount of carbohydrates and trace fat calories.
Thus, as long as you follow strict eating guidelines, consuming whey protein will not make you fat.
The ideal protein to carbohydrate ratio is 2:1 which means for a 20 gram serving of whey protein, you should not get anything more than 10 grams of carbohydrates.
Because whey is a fast- acting protein, it is best taken first thing in the morning upon waking up and immediately after workout.
Casein makes up 80% of the protein that can be found in cow’s milk.
Casein is insoluble and forms structures called micelles that increase its solubility in water.
When milk undergoes heat processing, casein peptides and the micelles structures are denatured and form a gelatinous material.
The gelatinous material is the reason why casein is a slower digesting protein than whey and takes the body around seven hours to absorb.
The advantage of ingesting a slow digesting protein is that your body is assured of a constant supply of amino acids which lessens the risk of catabolism.
Casein Protein is more expensive than whey protein. It is best taken before bedtime to enhance healing and muscle recovery.
In the days before whey protein was discovered, eggs were the primary source of protein.
The white or the albumin was acknowledged as the healthier part of the egg although the yolk does carry lecithin and essential fatty acids.
Egg albumin comes in second to whey protein in PER rankings which means it is a high quality and fast acting protein.
You can buy egg albumin in cartons or containers in semi- liquid form for immediate cooking.
But there are brands that are producing powdered form of egg whites. These have been fortified with Vitamins A, B and D.
You can take egg albumin protein any time during the day as a meal replacement or after exercise.
It is however, not effective when taken before bedtime because of its fast rate of absorption.
This is the best option for those who want a vegetarian source of protein. Soy protein is extracted from the leguminous soy bean plant.
Although it is regarded as the best plant- based protein it does not have the complete profile of essential amino acids. Thus, soy protein has a low PER.
Soy protein has been the subject of much controversy over the past decade. There have been studies that link the isoflavones found in soy to hormonal imbalance.
This could lead to unwanted decreases in testosterone and an increase in estrogen production plus thyroid problems.
On the other hand soy protein is fortified with vitamins and minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron, Vitamin E and Vitamin B Complex.
Soy protein can be taken anytime of the day preferably as a meal replacement or as a post- workout shake. It is not recommended as a pre- bedtime protein meal.
Yes, manufacturers have found a way to extract protein from one of the most popular sources of carbohydrates!
In addition to protein, brown rice protein powder is also rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre and Vitamin B.
Similar to its vegetarian counterpart, soy, brown rice protein does not have a complete profile of essential amino acids. Thus, it also has a low PER.
Because its components include complex carbohydrates and fibre, you could drink brown rice powder as a meal replacement shake or before bedtime.
With all of these choices, which type of protein powder should you buy?
The obvious first pick should be whey concentrate for its versatility, high PER and affordability.
If you want to put on size or gain strength, choose a whey protein brand that has 10 or more grams of carbohydrates.
Conversely, if you want to get leaner, choose a whey protein brand that has fewer than five grams of carbohydrates per serving. There are brands that have zero carbohydrates.
You can extend the absorption of whey and turn it into a doable pre- bedtime drink simply by adding a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, fibre or an essential fatty acid such as ground flaxseed.
If you had a more flexible budget, you could consider casein protein as part of your nutritional program together with whey concentrate.
There are studies that show combining 70% whey protein with 30% casein protein is more effective in protecting the body from the damaging effects of catabolism than just by taking whey concentrate itself.
As for the vegetable based protein sources such as soy and brown rice, it is a matter of choice.
If you plan to advocate the vegetarian or vegan lifestyles, you can still reap some benefits from these types of protein supplements.
Keep in mind however that protein supplements regardless of brand or variety are intended to support a health and fitness program.
Consuming protein shakes frequently will not get the job done.
You still have to find time to exercise at least one hour, three days a week and eat a healthy, balanced diet to achieve your fitness goals.