Whether you’re looking to bulk up or slim down, protein should be essential to your diet.
Protein, along with carbs and fats, is a macronutrient that your body needs for energy. In scientific terms, protein is a series of amino acids attached together by peptide links – and these amino acids are the primary source of nitrogen in your body! When your body has a positive nitrogen balance, it is able to grow and repair your muscles with ease.
Aside from building muscles, protein can help preserve muscle tissue, maintain proper hormone levels, maintain your body’s immune system, balance PH levels in the blood and act as an energy source when your body is low on carbohydrates.
With all of these benefits it’s no wonder that in this day in age, protein-rich foods aren’t hard to come by. Take a walk through your local grocery store and you’re bound to find some sort of food that can satisfy your protein needs!
However, getting the right amount protein in your diet requires a whole lot of solid foods – and getting all of your protein through these solid foods isn’t always easy.
If you don’t have time to meal prep to ensure you’re filling up on the correct amount of protein each and every day – then protein supplementation is your answer.
But with so many different types of protein supplements on the market nowadays, how are you supposed to know which ones are the best?
Follow our guide to the Best Sources of Protein Supplementation and find out which types of protein supplements you should be taking:
Whey Protein Powder
When you hear someone mention “protein powder”, it is likely that whey protein comes to mind. Whey protein is the most common, and probably the cheapest protein supplement on the market today.
What is whey exactly? Whey protein is removed from whey – the liquid component of milk that is isolated during the production of cheese. The best example of this is the liquid you might find when you open a fresh container of yogurt!
After being separated during the production of cheese, whey is processed into whey protein – a powder supplement.
Whey protein is both fast and easy to digest, and offers all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs! In fact, whey protein has the highest Biological Value (BV) score possible and is ranked the highest for its Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PCCAAS). This means that not only does whey offer nitrogen your body can use for protein synthesis, but it has the most concentration of essential amino acids compared to its digestibility.
Studies have shown that whey protein can help you increase your strength, gain muscle and lose body fat if consumed properly.
This protein supplement is offered in three main forms, each with its own advantages; concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. It is most effective one hour before a workout, immediately after a workout, or first thing in the morning due to its quick bursts of protein synthesis.
Casein Protein Powder
Casein protein is one of two proteins that compose the dairy protein – the other being whey protein. It is relatively insoluble which results in a slower rate of digestion and a steady release of amino acids into circulation.
Studies have proven casein protein to have a long-lasting effect that is attributed to a delayed gastric emptying and slower absorption rate from the gastrointestinal tract to the blood.
This protein is ideal to use in a protein shake before bed because it maintains an anti-carbolic environment while you sleep.
Casein protein can be used alone or in combination with whey protein as they have unique, but complementary effects on your body.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy protein has been used for decades but has only recently increased in popularity in light of its health benefits. Originally used as an ingredient in a variety of foods due to its functional properties of emulsification and texturizing, soy protein has been proven to prevent heart problems and reduce the risk of cancer.
Soy is a plant based protein that contains all of your essential amino acids. Studies have shown soy protein to be comparable to whey protein – and superior to casein protein – in regards to muscle growth following an acute bout of resistance exercise.
However, despite its benefits soy protein should be consumed in moderation as the high doses have been linked to reducing testosterone levels in men – while isoflavones found in soy can skew hormone levels if consumed too frequently.
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein is a protein made by grinding the hemp seeds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Despite the relation of the cannabis plant to the manufacturing of marijuana, hemp protein is free of THC and is not produced from the same variety of Cannabis sativa as marijuana. Therefore, you cannot get “high” from consuming hemp protein.
Hemp itself is an excellent source of natural organic proteins and offers all 20 amino acids including the nine essential amino acids. Hemp seeds are often considered a superfood as they are rich is polyunsaturated fatty acids including omega 3’s which can help prevent heart disease and fight symptoms of depression.
Hemp protein is plant-based and highly digestible however, due to its high fat content and high calorie count it is not recommended if your ultimate goal is weight loss.
Egg Protein Powder
Egg-based protein powders are made using egg white protein. As egg-based protein powders do not contain any egg yolk, they are considered to be low in fat and cholesterol free. These powders are also lactose-free, making them an excellent substitution for dairy products.
In regards to protein content, egg-based proteins contain approximately 25 grams of protein per 30-gram serving making them comparable to whey and casein protein. However, unlike whey and casein proteins – that digest at fast and slow speeds – egg-based protein digests at a moderate speed. This means it will keep your protein needs satisfied longer than if you consume whey protein on its own.
Protein is necessary for anyone looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. But remember, just because protein powders and shake supplements may be the most convenient way to ensure you reach your daily protein intake, they aren’t always the best option. Be sure to continue to consume solid foods along with your protein regime to nourish your body with the vital nutrients it needs to thrive. Build your diet with a base of solid foods and incorporate protein supplements when its healthy and convenient!