I’ve gotten a lot of questions about different types of protein powders in the past month, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to the various kinds of protein out there! The examples I’ve provided for each type aren’t the only varieties, you can do some research on your own to find out what flavors/ingredients/nutrition profiles you like the most. It’s fun to go on a tastebud journey!!
**Sidenote–I’m all for protein supplementation to add tastiness, calories, and a boost of protein, but I advocate solid protein sources whenever possible.
1. Whey~ Found in cow’s milk, whey protein contains all essential amino acids needed to build/repair muscle tissue and to provide energy. Out of all proteins, whey has the highest amount of branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s). It’s also easily digested and quickly absorbed by the body, so it is commonly consumed in a shake form immediately after working out. There are a majors types of whey:
- Concentrate~ most common form. During the cheese-making process, curds are removed, dried and concentrated protein is derived. Concentrated whey must contain at least 25 percent proteins, so the remainder of the ingredients include a large portion of lactose, or sugar, and fat from the milk. Therefore, it contains more carbs and fats than isolate. (Ex: Elite Gourmet Whey Protein, True Science 100% Whey)
- Isolate~ An additional step to the concentrate process. Isolate is marketed as a more pure version of whey that gets rid of most of the fat and lactose found in concentrate. It must contain at least 90 percent proteins. By removing ingredients like fat, isolate speeds up the digestion of whey, creating a healing, building muscle reaction. (Ex: ZeroCarb Isopure, NOW Whey Isolate)
- Hydrolyzed~ Known as the most refined and most expensive protein powder, hydrolyzed whey proteins are put through another refining process to artificially begin the digestion process. This breaks the chains of amino acids down into protein particles called peptides. Peptides are easily digested and quickly absorbed for use in the body. (Ex: Dymatize ISO 100, Optimum Nutrition Hydrowhey)
2. Casein~ Also found in cow’s milk, casein takes longer to digest than whey. Casein protein helps prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue, keeping your body in an anabolic state. Since it takes longer to digest, recipes using casein are commonly consumed before bed due to its assistance in muscle repair during sleep. (Ex: Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein, Dymatize Elite Casein)
3. Soy~ Soy protein powder comes from…you guessed it…soybeans. Soybeans contain amino acids and phytochemicals. This type of protein is common among vegetarians in things like tofu, soy milk, and powders. It’s easily digested, although not as fast acting as whey. Also, some soy protein powders do not dissolve in liquids as easily. (Ex: Optimum Nutrition 100% Soy Protein Isolate, NOW Soy Protein, EAS)
4. Milk Protein Isolate~ This form has both casein and whey proteins in a blend. It is full of amino acids, like soy protein. Milk protein isolates aren’t a preferred choice to use at any time of day, but they are beneficial at night. (Ex: True Protein Milk Isolate)
5. Egg Albumin~ Found in egg whites, egg albumin has a lot of amino acids to help build muscle mass. It isn’t commonly bought in powder form–it’s mainly just cooked up in egg whites. It can be used any time of the day, but not as good as casein for nighttime consumption. (Healthy N’ Fit Egg Protein, Dymatize Elite 100% Egg Albumin)
6. Pea Protein~ Not very common in stores, this form of protein comes from peas! (wow was that obvious haha). Peas are hypoallergenic, vegan, and completley plant based, so lots of people with special dietary needs can consume it. Usually it is used for post-workout shakes. (NOW Pea Protein, Alive)
7. Blends~ These are…well you guessed it, blends of multiple kinds of proteins. These are utilized during the day, post workout, or before bed due to being very versatile. They can be vegan, have casein and whey, or even include fats and carbs for meal replacement. (Ex: Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion, Cytosport Muscle Milk)
Some of the most popular companies that produce protein powders are: Optimum Nutrition, Gaspari Nutrition, Cytosport, Dymatize, NOW, and BSN. There’s tons more, but overall, these are some of the best-sellers. All protein powders come in a variety of flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, birthday cake, cookies and cream, unflavored, banana, you name it! Granted, some powders taste way better than others, so it’s kind of a personal tastebud test to see which you like the most.
I LOVE mixing protein powders into greek yogurt with nut butter, with milk in my cereal, cottage cheese with nut butter, oats, smoothies, in protein microwave cakes, homemade bars–the list is neverending!
My three most common uses for them~
2. Breakfast gloops for power oats
3. Before bed snacks
What type of protein do you most commonly use? What’s your favorite brand and flavor? How do you prepare it most?