The Five Best Types of Protein Powders
Protein powders are popular among the health-conscious.
There are many types of protein powder produced from various sources. And like every other thing in life, determining which will provide the best results may be difficult.
In this article, we highlight five of the best types of protein powder.
First, what are protein powders?
Protein powders are highly concentrated protein sources from plant or animal foods, such as peas, rice, eggs, or dairy.
There are three common forms of protein powders:
- Protein concentrates
They are produced via protein extraction from whole food through acid and heat or enzymes.
Protein concentrates supply 60-80% protein. Fat and carbs make up the remaining 20-40%.
- Protein isolates
Further filtration of protein concentrates removes carbs and fats, thus increasing the concentration of the essential protein. As a result, protein isolate powders contain no less than 90-95% protein.
- Protein hydrolysates
Protein hydrolysates are produced by heating further with enzymes or acids. Heating breaks the bonds that hold amino acids together. As a result, your muscles and body absorb hydrolysates faster than it does other forms of protein.
It is important to note that hydrolysates increase insulin levels compared to other forms. This has a positive effect on muscle growth following exercise (1).
Some protein powders may be fortified with minerals and vitamins. However, most protein powders are usually fortified with calcium.
You should note something important: protein powders are not meant for everyone. If you’re already on a high-quality protein diet, there’s no need for a protein powder.
On the other hand, athletes and weight lifters may benefit from protein powder because it helps maximize fat loss and muscle gain.
Protein powders also benefit people who cannot meet their protein needs with food alone. Those in this category include older adults, people who are ill, and vegans or vegetarians.
Best protein powders
1. Whey protein
Whey protein is obtained from milk. It is the liquid that is usually separated from the curds during the process of cheesemaking. Whey is high in protein but also contains lactose.
It is important to note that whey protein concentrate retains lactose, but the isolate version contains very little because most of this milk sugar is lost during processing.
Whey digests faster. It is rich in branched-chain amino acids. Leucine is an example of branched-chain amino acid and plays a vital role in enhancing muscle recovery and growth after endurance and resistance exercise (2, 3).
2. Casein protein
Casein, like whey, is found in milk. But one significant difference between casein and whey is that digestion and absorption of casein are slower.
When casein interacts with your stomach acid, it forms a gel, which slows down stomach emptying and delays the absorption of amino acid from your bloodstream.
The result will be gradually exposing your muscles to amino acids, thus limiting muscle protein breakdown (4).
3. Egg protein
Eggs are a very rich source of high-quality protein.
Egg protein is the easiest to digest and has the highest quality (11).
But egg protein powders are made from the whites of eggs. They are not made from whole eggs. You may not experience fullness from egg protein powders due to the removal of the yolks, but the protein quality remains excellent.
Eggs are a rich and complete protein source. This means they can provide your body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
An egg is also rich in leucine.
4. Hemp protein
Hemp is a plant-based supplement with increasing popularity.
Yes, hemp may be related to marijuana, but it contains a negligible amount of the psychoactive component, THC.
Hemp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and some essential amino acids. However, it is crucial to note that hemp’s leucine and lysine levels are low. Hence it isn’t considered a complete protein.
Hemp protein is a well-digested plant protein source (14).
5. Brown rice protein
Protein powders produced from brown rice have been around for some time. However, they may not be as efficient as whey protein for muscle building.
Rice protein contains all the essential amino acids. However, its lysine content is too low to be a complete protein.
Protein powders can provide concentrated, high-quality protein.
Not everyone needs protein powder supplements, but they benefit those who do strength training or can’t meet their daily protein needs with only a diet.
If you want to increase your protein intake, try any of the products listed in this article.