You have heard that you need protein to maximize your workouts, get in better shape and build muscle. But when it comes to protein, there are many types available and all is not the same. Any well stocked supplement store has tens, if not hundreds, of different supplements that provide protein from equally many sources.
Let us help you understand your options better and share some information about the most common types of protein supplements and protein powders.
This is the most common and also the cheapest protein source available. You can get whey protein in tablets or as a powder. It is suitable for both professional athletes and beginners who work out simply to stay fit.
Whey protein is great for muscle size and strength increases and it helps to repair your muscle tissue after each training session. You should take it within 2 hours of going to the gym.
The downside of these cheap proteins is that it may leave you bloated and gassy. That is also why you shouldn’t use it late at night.
If you want your whey protein to work even faster and better, choose a bit more expensive solution – whey isolates. Isolates absorb much faster and are low on sugars and fats (in case you are on a diet).
Casein protein works differently and breaks down much more slowly, which means you can take it many hours before working out and it still works. If you are looking for a protein supplement to take at night, then it’s perfect for you. However, casein does not work very well post-workout, when you want something that acts fast to protect and repair your muscles.
Besides supplements, casein can be included in meals and shakes. It can also be consumed throughout the day to provide constant nutrition to your muscles.
For those looking for the fastest acting and most powerful protein, hydrolysate protein is the best option. It is also the most expensive kind, but sometimes its benefits outweigh its cost.
These come with a very high anabolic effect and their absorption rate is also the highest. It can be used before and after workout and it is not as bad for the digestive system as some other proteins can be.
This is a combination of both whey and casein proteins and usually sold in its isolate form. It has many amino acids and is mostly used by athletes who require several protein types at once. It can be used during daytime, but it doesn’t work well at night.
Soybeans as well as soy protein is used mostly by vegetarians. It’s a good form of plant-based protein and it comes with all the essential amino acids you need. Studies have shown soy protein to work similarly to whey protein, giving your muscles the same kind of boost.
Soy protein contains a lot of arginine, glutamine and BCAAs, to help nutrients reach muscles faster and speed up the recovery process. Soy also has other health benefits, such as potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
However, there is a downside as well. Isoflavones in soy protein can mess with your hormone levels, especially if you take in excess amounts of this protein. For men, it means reduced level of testosterone. This can be avoided, though, by using concentrated soy protein which has less negative isoflavones.
Another vegetarian protein source is pea. Pea protein usually comes in the powder form and although not very common, has many benefits that other proteins don’t have.
Pea protein is naturally cholesterol and fat free as well as gluten free and it can be used by lactose-intolerant people. But it’s not perfect either as it is missing an important amino acid – cystine.
Another interesting protein source is hemp. Hemp protein comes as a powder made of hemp seeds. Don’t worry, it doesn’t contain much THC and won’t get you high or cause any negative side effects.
While hemp seeds are high on protein, they also have other health benefits and are even considered to be superfood as they contain lots of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The well digestible plant-based protein does still have its cons. For one, it is very expensive as growing cannabis is illegal in most countries and it has to be imported, plus it has lots of fat and calories, making it less preferable for those looking to lose weight.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein gives other protein sources a run for their money. It is 100% plant based and has all of the benefits of why and regular rice protein. It is gluten-free, but also low on some amino acids, such as lysine. If you are going to use brown rice protein, be sure to also include some other proteins in your diet.
If you are looking for the perfect vegan protein source, you don’t have to stick to any of those mentioned above, you can use a supplement or a powder that comes as a blend of several sources, including peas, hemp, rice and others.
These blends are gluten, dairy and soy free, yet stack all the benefits that regular animal-based proteins have. Their price tag is of the higher kind, but they are still great for anyone looking for a diverse source of rich protein.
We have left the “old school” method last. Good old egg whites are full of egg albumin and amino acids. Back in the day when no powders or supplements were around for athletes to get a protein spike, they simply consumed raw eggs or egg whites. Nowadays, egg albumin is included in special protein rich meals and drinks.
Now we have mentioned most of the available protein sources that have been put into supplements and protein powders. Which one you choose is up to you, your wallet and your preferences.