In our fast paced society, eating the right food can be difficult if we are very often on the go. I mentioned before that supplements are the perfect complement to our food. One supplement that I consume from time to time is a protein shake. I definitely like to drink a protein shake right after the gym but I also find myself also drinking a protein shake when I know I will have a busy day ahead and might not have time to eat a healthy meal. But how do you know what kind of protein powder you should be taking? Well the answer is simple but you must determine what you value in your protein powder and what your fitness goals are because there are literally hundreds of choices for protein powders and they all vary slightly. So in this blog post I will discuss some of the main protein powders out there.
To begin you must know where your protein powder is derived from. Is it an animal sourced protein or a vegetable derived protein? This is perhaps a fundamental factor that you must consider. Animal sourced protein are perhaps the most popular and better known proteins out there but plant sourced proteins are getting more buzz especially around the vegan and vegetarian communities. So lets begin with animal derived protein powders.
- Whey Protein: This is probably the most widely used protein out there. This is derived from milk and can be made into many different flavors. I personally love this type of protein because it offers a lot of bang for my buck. Plus this type of protein powder helps build up my immunity. However, there are three forms of whey protein out there that should equally impact your decision in determining if this protein is right for you. Essentially, the three different forms of whey protein relate to the amount of processing used to make the protein and how much protein per unit it contains. The three forms of this protein are whey concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. I discuss two of the three below.
1. Concentrate: This type of whey protein still contains fat and large amounts of lactose since it is derived from milk. However, it is the least processed of all of the whey protein powders and is a little less expensive than whey isolate.
2. Isolate: This whey protein has little to no fat and little to no lactose and might be better suited for individuals who have more delicate stomachs or are trying to remove fat from their diets. Keep in mind that although this whey protein has more protein content than whey concentrate it is more heavily processed and will cost you more at the register.
- Casein Protein: Casein protein is also referred to as milk protein since the majority of this protein is derived from milk and shares many similarities to whey protein. This protein also comes in a variety of flavors but the biggest difference between casein protein and whey protein is when they are absorbed and digested in our bodies. Unlike, whey protein where it kicks in relatively quickly after consuming it, Casein protein takes a bit longer to be absorbed. If we use the rabbit and turtle race analogy, whey protein would be the rabbit and casein protein would be the turtle because of the slow and steady pace at which it is absorbed by our bodies. This is why this protein powder is perfect for later in the day if you like to snack late in the evening because it will keep you full so you won’t have to binge eat late at night.
Plant Derived Protein
- Pea Protein: So now we discuss plant based protein powders. You might be thinking why would I consider this kind of protein powder. Well for starters this is an ideal protein powder if you are lactose tolerant but also if you get bloating from either whey or casein protein powders. In particular, pea protein is derived from peas that might better suit a vegan or vegetarian diet. Plus this protein protein plays well with other drinks in case you you might want to mix it with other drinks. Additionally, this protein powder has a low amount of carbohydrates so for folks trying to cut out carbs from their diet, this is a good protein powder to use. Again it comes down to your fitness goals.
- Soy Protein: This particular protein offers 8 amino acids and is derived from the soybean. Like whey protein, soy protein comes in different forms: soy concentrate, soy isolate, and in a textured soy protein. Each one of these soy proteins offers its own benefits and downfalls just like whey protein. More importantly this specific protein can be hard to mask if you are trying to mix with other drinks but it can be done. I would recommend using your favorite fruits or peanut or almond butter to accomplish this.
- Rice Protein: Who would have thought that rice had protein right? Well as it turns out it does! In fact this protein powder shares many of the same characteristics as pea protein. This protein is perfect for individuals that are considered about their fat or calorie intake as this protein powder tends to be low in these categories.
- Hemp Protein: This protein source is perhaps the most widely used source of protein that vegetarians and vegans use. Unlike soy protein, hemp protein is easier to digest and it also has low fat content compared to other types of protein powders specifically any concentrate powders. Some other advantages this protein has is that it contains no soy, dairy, or artificial flavors. So you either like the flavor or you don’t.
It doesn’t matter if your new to protein powders or if you’re a protein junkie like myself figuring out what protein powder can be difficult to determine. Hopefully, I have pointed in the right direction so you at least know what protein powder would work well with your body and be consistent with your fitness goals. I strongly recommend you sample a protein powder from each different type before finally settling on your favorite protein. Personally, I have tried them all of different brands and I would say it was a good experience to have. I highly recommend for everyone to do it too! Remember that selecting the type of protein powder is only one factor to consider when selecting your next protein powder. Other things to consider are flavoring, sweeteners, and other ingredients that are mixed in with the protein powder. Feel free to share below which type of protein powder you are currently taking and if you would recommend it or not.