Many people are having a hard time deciding what type of protein powder is the best for their body, taste, and fitness goals. Athletes and individuals who regularly lift weights may find that taking protein powder helps to maximize muscle gains and increase fat loss. But protein powders aren’t only made for bodybuilders, they can also aid individuals in their illness, older adults, and some vegans who struggle to meet protein needs with protein alone.
Why do we need protein?
Well on a basic level, your body needs protein to stay healthy and to work the way it should. Protein is found literally in everything from your organs to your muscles, your skin, hair, tissues, and bones. Protein also plays a major role in carrying oxygen throughout your body by the use of our blood to keep our cells healthy.
If you aren’t getting enough protein from your diet, this could lead to muscle loss, tissue breakdown, and other sorts of health problems. So a great way to supplement your daily protein intake is by taking protein powders. Protein powders are concentrated sources of protein from either animals or plant foods, such as dairy, eggs, rice, peas, etc.
Here are the top five types of protein powder that you can choose from depending on your health goals:
First is whey protein, which is a type of protein powder that comes from milk. Milk harbors lactose, which many individuals have difficulty digesting. While whey protein concentrate retains some lactose, the isolated version of it contains very little because most of this milk sugar is removed during processing.
Whey protein digests quickly and it is rich in BCAAs (branched amino acids). BCAAs play a major role in promoting muscle growth and recovery after resistance and endurance exercises. Studies reveal that whey protein can help build and maintain muscle mass, assist athletes with recovery from heavy exercise, and increase muscle strength in response to strength training.
Some studies also suggest that whey protein may improve body composition by decreasing fat mass and increasing overall muscle mass. Whey protein may also reduce inflammation and improve certain heart health markers in obese and overweight people.
Casein protein powder is similar to whey protein because they are both found in milk. However, casein is digested and absorbed much more slowly. Casein forms a gel that interacts with stomach acid, slowing down the stomach emptying and delaying your bloodstream’s absorption of amino acids. This results in a gradual steadier exposure of your muscles to amino acids, reducing the rate of muscle protein breakdown.
Many studies indicate that casein is more effective in increasing muscle protein synthesis and strength than soy and wheat protein, but less than whey protein. Casein may also have an advantage over whey protein in improving body composition during weightlifting.
Egg protein powder is an “eggcellent” source of high-quality protein and healthy fats. In fact, whole eggs had the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. Like all animal products, eggs are a complete protein source, which means that they provide all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make itself.
Eggs are also one of the best foods for decreasing appetite and helping you stay full for longer. That’s why the protein quality of eggs remains at an A+. However, you may experience less fullness because the high-fat yolks have been removed resulting in just egg whites. Egg white protein could be a good choice for people with dietary allergies who prefer a supplement based on animal protein, but please keep in mind that egg white protein hasn’t been studied as much as whey and casein.
Pea protein powder is especially popular among vegetarians, vegans, and individuals with allergies or sensitivities to dairy or eggs. Pea protein consists of split peas, a high-fiber legume that is particularly rich in BCAAs and EAAs. Studies reveal that people who are taking 50g of pea protein daily have experienced similar muscle growth as those who take whey protein of the same amount. Though pea proteins seem to be promising, some high-quality research is needed to confirm these results.
Hemp protein powder is another plant-based supplement that is gaining popularity nowadays. Although hemp is related to marijuana, it doesn’t contain THC, so don’t expect to get high from a scoop of hemp. Hemp is rich in beneficial omega three fatty acids and several amino acids. However, it is not considered a complete protein because it’s very low in levels of amino acids, such as lysine and leucine. While not much research exists on hemp protein, it appears to be a well-digested plant source of protein.