The ‘Scoop’ on Protein Supplements
In the ever changing and confusing world of supplements, there are now more options than ever, and each claims to be the best! However, “best” is a relative term and really depends on the individual. In this article I will go over some different types of the most popular protein supplement types and explain why some are better for certain people while some are better for others. I will be covering…
Meal Replacement Supplements
Whey Protein is the most common type of protein supplement. It is everywhere and there are literally thousands of brands that produce it trying to get a slice of the profit pie. Whey proteins are highly digestible and have the highest biological value (Value that measures how well your body can absorb protein) of all proteins. Whey protein is very useful if you struggle to get enough protein through your daily diet (which over 75% of people do). The average person should aim to get at least .8g per lb of bodyweight, and even more if you are exercising and weight training. Whey protein is also great when used following a workout, when the body’s muscles are broken down and protein absorption is at its greatest. The two most common types of whey protein are whey isolates and whey concentrates.
Whey Isolates are absorbed much more rapidly into the system and therefore are best suited immediately following a workout when the body is in need of amino acids. However, isolates make for a poor choice throughout the rest of the day because the body is not in need of such a sudden rush of amino acids.
Whey Concentrate supplements are better suited as an “any time” protein due to the fact that they are absorbed slower and take longer to digest. If for example you are short on your protein needs for the day and also short on time, whey concentrate proteins are a great snack to hold you over until your next meal.
2) Casein Protein is a much longer lasting (slower digesting) protein that provides your body with a steady stream of amino acids for up to 5-6 hours. This effect makes casein the ideal protein to drink right before bed or at a time when you know you will not be able to have a meal for a long period of time. On the other hand, this type of protein is not at all effective (or recommended) immediately following intense exercise as it will not deliver enough amino acids into the bloodstream quickly enough.
3) Egg Protein is second only to whey protein on the biological scale (remember that scale that measures how well your body can absorb different proteins?). Egg protein is also released into the bloodstream more slowly than whey, but not quite as slow as Casein, which makes it an excellent candidate for an anytime protein drink. Egg protein is lactose-free making it an ideal protein for people who can not consume dairy products due to lactose intolerance.
4) Soy Protein is not nearly as high on the biological scale (is not absorbed as easily) as egg or whey proteins, but it does have some health benefits. Soy protein has been shown to help reduce high cholesterol and building bone mass to battle osteoporosis. In terms of muscle building, this protein is not going to match the benefits of egg and whey protein, however if someone were a true vegetarian/vegan this would be a viable option to get more protein into their daily diet.
5) Weight gainers are typically very high calorie shakes which include both exorbitant amounts of carbohydrates and protein. Weight gainers are meant for the “hardgainer,” aka the skinny guy/girl who tries their hardest to put on weight and muscle but simply can not. Weight gainers are not advised for people who find it easy to put on weight and muscle because a good percentage of their new body weight will be body fat. When used properly, weight gainers can be very helpful for someone who struggles to eat enough calories in the day and therefor struggles to put on weight and muscle.
6) Meal replacement supplements are similar to weight gainers in the sense that they contain both high protein and carbohydrates, however they are much lower in total calories. Meal replacement supplements are intended for just that, when you need to replace a meal. When you are short on time between meetings, when you miss/skip breakfast, when you miss/skip any meal for that matter, etc…
So there you have it, the main types of protein supplements out there. Are there more types? Yes definitely, but much less common. If you have questions on any of these types or any other types please feel free to ask and if I don’t know the answer, i’ll gladly look it up for you! Go with the type of protein that you think is right for you and your situation! Whey concentrate is your best all-around option for anytime protein hands down, beyond that if you’d like to try casein, or weight gainer, or anything else, run it by your doctor first to make sure you’re healthy enough to supplement :)
Thanks for reading, and keep it healthy!
Fitness Fusion ACSM CPT