Shari Duncan

PROTEIN POWDERS – Deciphering all those Labels
Shari

by on Mar.20, 2010, under General Nutrition, Natural Bodybuilding, Supplementation

The need for adequate protein in the human body is second only to the need for water …

and is one of three macronutrients used by the body for energy.

You are working out and trying to eat better,  & you recognize that protein is necessary if you are serious about achieving results. Sometimes it’s tough to get enough protein each day from whole food sources though. But  increasing your daily protein intake while on a resistance training program will help to increase lean muscle mass.  Protein foods are also  thermogenic which means it takes more energy to digest protein. Our bodies must work 30% harder  digesting protein foods then to digest and process carbs and fats.

There are so many protein powder supplements available and choosing the right one can be confusing at best.  All proteins are not created equal. Hopefully this will provide a little insight to help you determine which form (or combination) of protein supplements will best meet your specific needs

The most common types of protein powders used are:

  • Casein
  • Egg
  • Soy
  • Whey

WHEY Protein:

Whey comes in three popular forms: Whey Protein Isolate, Whey protein Concentrate, and Hydrolyzed Whey. Whey is derived from milk and is the most commonly used protein supplement. It contains nonessential and essential amino acids, as well as branch chain amino acids (BCAA). Whey is easily absorbed by your muscles and is extremely safe to use. Whey protein is not appropriate for those who have a milk allergy or who cannot tolerate lactose.

Fast digesting proteins, such as whey act quickly to help regulate bodily nitrogen levels and are recommended as a post-workout protein source.

Concentrate Versus Isolate:

Whey concentrate is whey in its natural form while isolate protein goes through an additional filtration process to produce a finer powder that allows for quicker digestion. Most whey products found on supplement shelves are made up of whey concentrate, mixed with a small portion of whey isolate.  Generally isolates are 90%+ pure protein.  Whey concentrates contain 70-8o% protein.  Comparing the two, whey protein isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate because of its higher quality and BV (biological value). Whey protein isolate contains more protein and less fat and lactose per serving.

Whey protein isolate is the highest yield of protein currently available that comes from milk. Because of its chemical properties it is the easiest to absorb into your system. With its high concentration, it appears that an isolate protein would be the obvious choice over a concentrate. But the isolate is more expensive and ts extra concentration may not justify its extra cost. This is an individual decision.

Regardless of what type of whey you select, whey in all forms is quickly digested and therefore the best time to capitalize on wheys quick absorption is to consume it is during or immediately after training.

Hydrolyzed Whey (also called peptides), are powerful proteins that are more quickly absorbed than any other form.

Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

Assorted fast, slow, and timed released blended proteins available in many flavors.

These proteins are potentially the most anabolic for short-term protein synthesis. Supplement with hydrolyzed whey 15 minutes prior to a workout, during a workout and/or immediately after a workout.

CASEIN Protein:

Casein makes up 80% of total milk protein and is slowly digested. It has a “thick” taste compared to whey and is considered an efficient source by those trying to build muscle.  A slow digesting protein provides a long term stream of protein and amino acids, meant to assist in keeping a positive nitrogen balance for longer periods of times. A slow digesting protein is a great choice for in between meals or before bedtime.

SOY Protein:

Soy protein is derived from soy flour. Of all the vegetable proteins, soy is the most complete protein. Similar to whey protein, soy protein has two types, the concentrate and the isolate, with the isolate being the purer, more expensive form. It is a fast digesting protein that has an average amino acid profile. Because of this, it is not the most desirable protein source for those looking to build muscle. Soy protein is ideal for those who have dairy allergies.

EGG Albumin:

Really is the Incredible Edible..and most complete protein source

The "Incredible Edible"..really is a most complete protein source

Egg protein is made from the egg white. It is considered the most perfect source of protein because it is complete in essential amino acids, branch chain amino acids and glutamic acid. The body completely and easily absorbs it, and it is fat free.  Because of its characteristics, egg protein is used as the standard against which all other proteins are measured. It is popular in bodybuilding circles because of a higher essential to non-essential amino acid ratio, and because egg whites contain less cholesterol then egg yolks. Eggs are often considered the king of natural food proteins because of their high essential amino acids levels. Egg protein is the best alternative for those that are lactose intolerant.

Protein Blends:

Protein blends combine several types of proteins such as whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein protein, and soy protein. When choosing a blend, you receive the full spectrum of proteins with the varying rates of absorption from the different types of protein, which make them a good all around choice for most individuals.

Using a blend creates an anabolic effect from the whey and an anti-catabolic environment from the casein. The best time to consume this type of “timed release” or “sustained release” protein is outside of the six hour post workout window.

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