Different types of Protein powder
Ah yes, good old whey. Quite possibly the number one selling supplement in the world; it is usually the top seller when you look at any online retailer’s top selling supplements. Whey protein is your common, fast-digesting, milk-derived protein of choice. Within this category, there are several sub-categories that should be examined.
Whey protein is derived from milk - during the process of making cheese, the liquid separates from the curds, and whey protein is derived from that liquid. After the liquid is removed from this separated, non-curd component, you are left with whey, and the other dairy-sourced protein casein, which we’ll examine a bit later.
Whey Isolate - This is generally considered one of the higher-end whey protein sources. While not terribly different from concentrate, it generally has slightly less lactose and fat, so it may be easier to digest for someone who has issues with lactose. It undergoes a finer filtration process, which serves to remove excess carbs, fat, and lactose.
Whey Concentrate - The most basic, slightly cheaper form. Still very good and beneficial, but often slightly higher in carbs/fat and lactose than isolate. The difference is not a huge though, so go with whichever one best suits your preference according to taste and cost.
Hydrolyzed Whey - The most expensive type on the market. Taking it a step further than isolate, this protein is pre-digested, in addition to being highly filtered, so you are left with a very pure protein that is incredibly fast to digest and absorb.
Casein protein, as mentioned above, is the other dairy protein formed from the liquid which separates from the curds during the cheese-making progress. Casein protein is famous for being very slow-digesting. Whereas whey protein is quick to digest and absorb in the body, casein undergoes a reaction in the stomach which slows the absorption rate, and it is often marketed as the slow-release protein.
It is more of a steady-drip of protein into the blood, in smaller quantities, vs. whey protein, which absorbs quickly and gets you all the protein at once. Some companies are beginning to sell hydrolyzed whey, but for the most part, it’s all going to be standard, micellar casein protein.
Soy protein is derived from the soy bean, if you couldn’t tell from the name. It is a plant-based protein, which serves as an alternative to dairy for those who wish to keep dairy out of the diet, or who have extreme lactose intolerance. Just like whey protein, it comes in concentrate and isolate, and the difference between the two is very small.
People often claim that soy protein is bad for muscle gains, as soy products have been linked to increased estrogen, something most men don’t want. If heavy soy consumption is a part of your diet, this may be an issue, however, if your only soy products are a scoop or two of soy protein, chances are this will be a non-issue.
Beyond soy protein, there are certain blends of plant proteins available, which derive their sources from things such as other beans and peas. Plant proteins will have varying nutritional profiles, and while not unhealthy, are not very popular outside of the vegetarian community, due to their high cost to low protein ratio. Someone following a vegan diet may find these useful, but most people will get better value for their money sticking with a dairy-based protein.
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