Protein is essential to every function of your body. Protein plus intense exercise is what builds muscle. In turn, the more muscle you have on your body, the faster your metabolism will be, making you leaner.
Of course, protein is one of the 3 macronutrients, so it is available in varying degrees in everything we eat. The best sources of protein are eggs, chicken, fish and lean red meat.
To get the quantity of protein that you need to build muscle however, you will probably find that you have neither the time, the money nor the appetite to get all of your protein in the form of whole food.
That is where protein powder comes into it’s own. Although it will never be as good as whole food, protein powder is convenient and reasonably priced for a good quality.
The selection of protein powders on the market is quite simply mind-boggling. Let’s take a look at the different types so that you can pin point your individual requirements:
Animal VS Vegetable Protein Powder
Protein powders can be divided into two broad categories – animal based and vegetable based. Animal sourced protein powders include milk protein, such as casein and whey.
Vegetable based proteins powders include soy, rice, hemp and pea – meaning that vegetarians don’t miss out on muscle building protein powder.
Animal: Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein (which comes from milk) contains the highest level of branch chain amino acids and is one of the fastest acting proteins that you can consume. Because it’s so quickly absorbed, whey protein is an excellent choice post-workout to jump-start the muscle repair process.
Whey tends to be the cheapest of all the protein types. However, it is also the protein powder that has the gassiest effect on the stomach
Animal: Casein Protein Powder
Casein powdered protein also comes from milk. However, your body digests it at a much slower rate than whey. In fact, it can take up to 7 hours for your body to fully absorb casein protein. This is not all bad. As we’ve already learned, the process of protein digestion burns a lot of calories. So taking in casein protein will help you to burn more fat calories.
In addition, the slow rate of absorption of casein ensures that your muscles get a steady rate of amino acid supply over an extended period of time.
All of that makes casein protein a great choice at night. It will provide a steady supply of amino acids to your muscles while you are sleeping and your body is busy restoring your muscle cells.
Animal: Whey Protein Isolate Protein Powder
Whey protein isolate is faster absorbing than traditional whey as the isolate process removes most of the carbohydrate from the product. This will help you build muscle more quickly, but you’ll pay extra for the privilege.
Animal: Whey Protein Hydrolysate Protein Powder
Whey Protein Hydrolysate protein powder is the quickest absorbing whey powder of them all. As the name suggests it will push more water into the muscle cell and – believe it or not – water is the key to both strength and size.
It’s more expensive still than isolate but it will give you the results you want. It is ideal as a post workout supplement.
Plant: Soy Protein Powder
Soy protein powder is a by-product of the soya bean. It contains all of the essential amino acids. However, soy is high in allergens and has been shown to block the absorption of certain minerals, such as calcium. It also has a low net protein utilization ratio, meaning that not all of the protein you take in will actually get to the muscle cell.
Plant: Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp seed protein powder is easily digested and absorbed by the human body. Unfortunately, ground hemp seed only contains about 50%. So, while it is a great immune system builder, it’s not such a good muscle builder.
Plant: Rice Protein Powder
Concentrated rice protein powder is 80-90% pure, hypoallergenic, easily digested protein, making it an excellent vegetarian protein source. However it is low in the amino acid lysine, which affects it’s bioavailability.
Plant: Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein powder probably doesn’t sound too good, but it is actually quite a pleasant tasting product – and it has a high protein count and absorption rate. While low in some amino acids, it is high in lysine. That means that if you combine rice and pea protein powder you will have a protein bioavailability that approaches eggs – while maintaining a strict vegetarian diet!