Whey Protein – Is It The Best Supplement Option?

 In nutrition&supplements

Proteins are an integral part of each of your cells, and we ingest them every day through a variety of foods. Sometimes when there is an increased need for protein, it is good to take protein supplements. But what type of the protein supplement to take and when? Read to find out!

What Is Protein Supplement?

Protein supplements are protein products extracted from nutrition sources and food products. Their purpose is to help bodybuilders, athletes, and everybody who wants to increase their muscle mass by training. Types of protein supplements are:

  • Protein powders,
  • Protein bars,
  • Weight gainers,
  • Meal replacements.

Protein supplements generally contain more than 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving, and are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and are produced in numerous flavors such as a fruit flavor, cookie, cream or peanut butter.

Composition of Protein Supplements

The composition is a protein powder type, which depends on the way of an extraction from the source of the protein. Mostly, supplements are either isolates or concentrates, as well as hydrolysates or protein blend.

Concentrate

A concentrate is a form of a protein supplement which is mostly used. It is obtained by separating the protein from its source. By law, concentrate means that the product needs to be at least 35% to 80% protein by weight. So, we also get the powder which contains a trace of fat and micronutrients. It is easy absorbed in your body. Despite the high absorption, concentrates are a very good option. If the protein concentrate is processed in a non-denatured state, this is the best option. By extracting through this process, you’ll have less bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort while using them. With such a simple process, concentrates also tend to be the cheapest sources of protein supplementation.

Isolate

The isolates are protein products from which lactose was removed. It has a higher concentration of protein, but it is impoverished of micronutrients. It also has been denatured, so it is one of the quickest absorbing proteins. Although it is absorbed quickly, its denaturized structure has a negative impact on the overall gut health. Due to its process and how it is made, isolates tend to have a higher price then concentrates.

Hydrolysates

Protein hydrolysate is a product of the protein hydrolysis which means that the protein has been exposed to heat, acid or even some enzymes to break down the structure into amino acids. This makes them faster to absorb, but also gives them the bitter taste so it is not for everyone. The particle of hydrolysates is small because of the whole process of breaking down the protein into amino acids, so they are soluble in water.

Sources of Protein Supplements

Food is one of the sources for protein supplements. These are mostly foods of animal origin, to be exact. Most often, these foods are milk, whey, and eggs. But, there are also some foods of plant origin that are rich sources of protein such as a soy, rice, and pea.

Protein Supplements

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a milk protein. It has been separated from the milk during the process of making a cheese. Raw milk is being mixed with some enzymes which separate the constituent parts. The liquid that remains after cheese has been made is the part which contains whey protein. This now is pasteurized and dried to a powder consistency and used for many uses. Because of the low price and easy digestibility, it is the most popular on the market today. Whey protein benefits after a workout are promoting lean muscle growth and fat loss, as well as supporting cardiovascular health and a healthy metabolism since it contains all the amino acids, making it useful for post-workout recovery and growth. You may buy it in a variety of flavors and several forms and use as a protein shake after a workout.

Whey Concentrate contains 70-85% of protein and more fat and lactose than other whey supplements. If you are looking for an inexpensive protein source, then whey protein concentrate is your choice. Especially, if you are a beginner consumer.  You can use whey concentrate before and after a workout and also as a snack between meals. But, not by night. Some people may have a hard time digesting the concentrates and may feel a little gassy and bloated. It can be caused by a lactose, which is a part of the whey.

Whey Isolate is a more expensive and a higher quality protein source with a higher biological value. But, a whey protein isolate benefits are higher due to less fat and lactose, while containing 90-98% of protein. If you have low carb diet, then it is an ideal pick for you. You can use whey isolates before and after a workout. So, you will supply your muscles quickly and recover in no time.

Whey Protein Blends are specialized protein formulas that contain both whey isolates and whey concentrates.

Whey Protein Hydrolysates contains the same amino acid and micro fraction, but the fraction is smaller so it is the easiest for a digestion.

Casein Protein

Casein is taken from the milk, too. But, your body absorbs casein much more slowly than whey. It is one of the casein protein benefits. It will keep your body absorbing and utilizing the nutrients even while you sleep because casein needs from 5-7 hours to fully breakdown in your body. Therefore, it is a good to take it before bedtime as a shake. Benefits of the protein shakes are comprised in its anabolic process and the exploiting of the protein throughout the night. So, you can combine casein by night and some of the whey supplements by day. Casein is also more expensive than whey and often contains many artificial ingredients and sugar to make it tastier.

Egg Protein

The egg protein is an egg albumin. The amino acids in albumin are great to use for building lean muscle mass, while it is rich in vitamins and minerals that can contribute to a healthy diet so it is very popular among bodybuilders. Also, it can be used anytime during the day but is not a preferred option to use at night. But, be careful if you have allergies to the egg which are common, especially in children and young adults. In spite of that, it is one of the most expensive protein supplements available. But, if you are lactose non-tolerant, egg protein is a good choice for you.

Soy Protein

The soy protein is a good source of protein if you are a vegetarian. It helps with recovery because it is loaded with glutamate, while arginine helps to dilate the blood vessels to allow nutrition to get into the muscles quicker. Also, it contains isoflavones, which support a healthy cholesterol profile, while boosting thyroid hormone output, and by doing so, it speeds up the metabolism. But, soy concentrate supplements are incredibly low in soy isoflavones due to the processing course, while in soy isolate, soy isoflavones may be still present. Soy protein may be a good protein powder for women, which are in menopause, because phytoestrogens of soy may compete with the estrogen that is being produced in women during the fertile age. Also, it isn’t so efficient as a whey or casein protein. It is also a supplement for using during the day, not for the night consumption.

Rice Protein

Rice is also easy to digest, but it is not completely built by the protein. It contains carbohydrates, vitamin B, as well as fiber. Rice protein is almost entirely usable by the body, and it is hypoallergenic.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is rich in glutamic acid, which converts carbs into energy. It is also one of the more digestible proteins. Although it is rich in amino acids, especially isolated pea protein, it lacks certain amino acids and must be paired with other proteins to provide a complete nutrient input. It is an ideal for people allergic to gluten because it is 100% gluten free. It is also lactose-free and cholesterol free.

Conclusion

So, there are many different options of protein. The first you have to decide is – what is your desired goal? It is not whether you want to add muscle mass or lose weight. The must important is that the chosen protein should be complete, easy to absorb and full of micronutrients.

Aleksandra C.
Medical student, freelancer, fitness enthusiastic.
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