In a market full of different protein powders and proteins, which one is best for me?
Animal vs Plant protein
To better understand protein supplements, let's divide it between what's available on the market, in the broadest sense, which would be animal and plant protein.
If you are trying to get the most protein in your diet without any restrictions whatsoever, I would go for animal-based proteins, i.e., whey protein, or eat more animal products such as fish, chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc.
Animal proteins are absorbed exceptionally well by our bodies; to be more specific, we absorb close to 90-95% of the animal protein we ingest. Whereas with plant protein, our bodies typically only absorb 60-80% of the protein. Animal proteins are considered "complete proteins" because they contain all 9 essential amino acids our bodies need. With plant proteins, there are typically a few essential amino acids missing. These essential amino acids are necessary because they all have a role in our body to keep us functioning properly and our muscles in tip-top shape!
After reading that, you probably think why anyone would want to have plant protein supplements if our bodies better absorb animal protein.
Well, there are several reasons! The first apparent reason will be if you are vegetarian or vegan. Thankfully, many good companies offer vegetarian or vegan protein supplements in today's market. Another good reason is that if you are attempting to get your protein through your diet, then plants typically have lower saturated fats, more vitamins, and minerals and usually contain healthy amounts of fiber. Lastly, you can still achieve your protein goals through plant sources; it's not impossible, especially if plant food is just your preference.
So, after reading this section, if you decide you want to have animal protein supplements, then continue to the animal protein section, which will go over the different kinds of animal proteins on the market. If you decide you want plant protein supplements, continue to the plant protein section to read about the different types of plant proteins. Or, just read everything because you are genuinely interested!
Types of Animal Protein and their benefits:
- Whey Protein or Whey Protein Concentrate (they both mean the same thing) - Whey protein is the cheapest protein powder among the three most purchased. However, just because it is the cheapest does not mean it is not good. If you do not have a lactose problem or get stomach issues from milk products, whey protein would be your best money-friendly option. Overall, whey protein powders are around 70-90% protein by weight, which is pretty good if you ask me.
- Whey Protein Isolate - Isolate means that in making this protein, they isolate a majority of just the protein and filter out the lactose and other things in whey protein such as fats, sugar, and carbohydrate. Typically, whey protein isolate is 90% or more protein by weight. This will be a more expensive option when compared to plain whey protein/whey protein concentrate. The main benefit is that if you have some stomach issues when it comes to milk products (aka lactose intolerance), this might be the best option for you! Or, if you want a more refined protein, go ahead and buy it.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate or Hydrolyzed Whey Protein (again, they mean the same thing) - This form of protein is considered the "pre-digested" whey protein as it is the most filtered and pure form of protein and more easily digested. This type of protein powder will cost you a pretty penny. If you have the extra money and want the purest protein powder that filters out almost all the lactose, sugar, carbs, and fat, then I would get this! Like isolate, this is also 90% or more protein by weight.
Types of Plant Protein and their benefits:
The main plant protein powders are- brown rice, pea, soy, and hemp. There is no need to filter out any lactose or fats from these proteins simply because they do not have any!
As mentioned earlier, plant proteins typically do not contain all the essential amino acids as animal proteins do (except soy protein). Plant proteins usually are missing a select few. However, many plant protein powders contain a mix of different plant proteins to provide you with a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
Among the different plant proteins, there is no winner takes all. The main differences are the types of amino acids each has as well as some people are said to get distinct tastes from different plant proteins. The main recommendation when it comes to plant proteins is to try a variety of them to see which tastes best to you, which product makes you feel the best with no digestive problems, and find a product that has a mix of different plant proteins to ensure you are getting all 9 of the essential amino acids.
As always, please holler if you have any questions.
This is not medical advice. Consult with your physician before beginning any diet regimen.