Protein supplements are a rapid solution to ensure that your body is satisfied and nourished. People use them for many different reasons. Some use them to improve fitness and weight training performance, others for weight loss and overall health.
There are hundreds of different options on the market today. It can be a challenge to decide what protein supplement is right for you. Each individual has their health and fitness goals, preferences and physiology. There isn’t one type of protein supplement that’s the perfect solution for everybody. It’s important to know which one is right for you and how they compare to whole food protein options.
What are the types of protein?
Most protein supplements come in the form of powders. They’re concentrated elements of protein from plants or animals. They can be made from peas, rice, eggs or dairy products. Some supplements are also fortified with vitamins and minerals like calcium.
The three most common protein supplements:
Concentrates: These are made by extracting the protein from whole foods by utilising acid, enzymes, and heat. These typically supply the majority of the protein and the remaining amount is carbohydrates and fat.
Isolates: There’s an additional filtering process that’s performed to remove the carbohydrates and fat, and concentrates the protein content. Isolate powders are made up of nearly all pure protein.
Hydrolysates: These are created by further heating the enzymes and acid which dissolves the bonds between the amino acids. This causes the hydrolysates to be rapidly absorbed into the muscles and body. This raises the level of insulin, especially in the case of whey protein. This will aid in the growth of muscles post-workout.
What are some of the most popular types of protein?
This is one of two proteins found in dairy products (the other being casein). Whey protein has a high content of amino acids like leucine which assist in muscle protein synthesis. It’s popular because it’s quickly absorbed and aids the immune system. If taken before a workout it stimulates fast protein synthesis; if taken after, it supports muscle growth and recovery.
This is the purest form of protein you can consume. How this differs from whey protein is due to its higher concentrated protein content. It also contains less fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol. It’s perfect for individuals who may be lactose intolerant or limiting their intake of carbohydrates. This type of protein supplement can be taken before or after a workout and even before bed.
This type is great for vegetarians or vegans who want to ensure they’re getting enough proteins in their diets. The proteins contained in this supplement come from rice and peas so it’s a great source of fibre and easy to digest. It may contain less calcium than the other types but it’s higher in iron content.
What should you look for when choosing a protein supplement?
Many protein supplements are made from different things. Some are geared toward a vegan diet, and some help shed pounds or build muscle. If a person is looking to build muscle mass then a whey protein is best. Look at the labels to see if the ingredients are organic or grass-fed.
If you’re looking to lose weight then you don’t want a protein supplement that’s high in calories or sugar. A low sugar/low-calorie supplement when coupled with exercise may promote weight loss.
If you’re vegan, look for organic protein powders that are plant-based, like rice, hemp, pea, or soy.
Pay attention to the ingredients. Read the label before you put it in the blender! Many times manufacturers add fillers to their supplements. This could be due to enhancing flavour, cutting costs, or extending the product’s shelf life. These types of bulking agents may make the supplement more expensive and your body may have a hard time breaking down these additives and fillers.
As a consumer, the main things to look for are that your protein supplement:
- Is free from sugars or additives
- Is primarily composed of protein
- Has ingredients that you know and can pronounce!
Should men and women choose different proteins?
Men normally consume more food per day than women because they typically weigh more. But a woman that weighs the same as a man would need to consume the same amount of protein as a man of the same weight (assuming the same fitness goals, that is).
In regards to physical needs, women and men are generally the same when it comes to nutrition.
But if women added more protein to their diets because they were performing strength training, the effects would be positive. But the same goes for men. They would both gain lean muscle mass and lose more body fat due to the increased amount of protein in their daily diets.
But men and women usually have different fitness goals. Women may want other things from their protein supplements like extra collagen and lower carbohydrate content. But the bottom line is that there aren’t any specific proteins for men and others for women. It all depends on what your health and fitness goals are.
What type of protein should you choose for weight loss?
A tasty and convenient way to help lose extra weight can be achieved through increased protein intake. Many of these types of supplements offer appetite control and increased energy. Here are a few choices to get you started:
Coffee-based protein: These types are packed with metabolism-boosting caffeine. This stimulant will increase your stamina during exercise. It also decreases your appetite so you’ll consume fewer calories daily.
Whey protein: It’s easy to digest and absorbs quickly. It helps build muscle mass and burn off fat. It decreases appetite and creates the feeling of being full longer. You may also experience an improvement in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Casein protein: A great source of calcium, this type digests slower but has many of the weight loss properties as whey. Casein curds when it’s exposed to the acid in your stomach so it can take 6 to 7 hours to break down. This will leave you feeling fuller and you’ll eat less during the day.
Soy protein: This is one of the few plant-based proteins that contains all nine of the essential amino acids. This is perfect for vegans who don’t consume dairy products. It’s not as powerful as an appetite suppressant as whey but it does reduce appetite keeping caloric intake low. Pea protein is another plant-based option.
Protein fortified with fibre: Vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains are great sources of fibre. The benefits include lowering cholesterol levels, normalising bowel health, and controlling blood sugars, all of which benefit weight loss. Fibre has also been shown to decrease food intake resulting in healthier body weight. The protein and fibre combine create a healthy synergy that promotes weight loss.
What type of protein helps you gain muscle?
If you’ve been spending hours in the gym and not gaining the muscle you’d like, it may have something to do with your nutrition. Here are a few protein supplements that may help you meet your goals faster.
Whey protein: Some may contain carbs and fats but the best is isolate and/or protein hydrolysates (protein in its purest form). They’re absorbed quickly and yield the fastest results.
Casein protein: This is good to take before bed. It’ll supply a steady stream of amino acids overnight. It’s also been found to enhance muscle mass if it’s added to your whey shake post-workout. If it includes micellar casein, it will be slow to digest.
Egg white protein: Slower than whey but faster than casein, this type when combined with both will create a combination of fast, slow and medium proteins to keep your muscle mass growing 24 hours a day.