If you are a frequent gym visitor, then you most likely know a thing or two about protein powder. However, those who are just starting out at the local lifting or exercise spot might be complete strangers when it comes to knowledge about protein powders.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one protein powder that you can buy and start using with guaranteed results. There are a few different types. Each one of these protein powder types brings different benefits to the table. Luckily, we can help you identify the key differences between these protein powders, which should help you determine the perfect powder for your needs. We will be discussing top protein powders in this article.
What Is Protein Powder?
There are a variety of different protein powders but they are all designed to help with similar aspects of your body. Protein powder is a concentrated source of protein which is derived from animal or plant foods like rice, peas, dairy, or eggs. There are three different types of protein powders:
- Protein hydrolysates – this protein powder is extracted by multiple sessions of purification with the help of heat and acids, which results in breaking of the bonds between amino acids. Usually, these powders contain 95% protein purity or higher and can be absorbed by your body much easier than other protein powder types.
- Protein isolates – these protein powders have a high pure protein content which is usually equivalent to nearly 90%-95% protein consistency. They are derived by breaking down food with heat and enzymes with an additional step to purify the powder even further.
- Protein concentrates – these are the cheapest and most affordable protein powders. They are derived from food with the help of heat and enzymes or acids. The protein purity of protein concentrates varies between 30%-80% with the remaining percentage consisting of calories from fat and carbohydrates.
Depending on the specific product that you choose, some protein powder products can be paired with additional vitamins. It isn’t uncommon to see calcium as an additive to protein powders to help strengthen bone structure.
Not everyone will benefit from protein powders. They are most suitable for people who work out frequently or partake in physical activities. Those who play sports can also benefit from protein powder products. If you lift weights regularly and are looking to maximize muscle mass and reduce body fat, then choosing to use protein powder will certainly pay off.
Lastly, people who find it difficult to absorb protein from food due to age or illness can also find it beneficial to start taking protein powder in order to increase their protein intake. Your lifestyles choices can also impact your protein intake, vegetarians and vegans can find protein powders to be an excellent source of protein without compromising their choices.
Top Protein Powders
Protein powder can be derived from many sources. Some are animal sources while others are plant sources. Each powder will be effective in a different way depending on where it was derived from. It is important to understand the differences between each protein powder source to know how those specific powders will affect your body. Read on to find out which of these protein powders is best suited for your specific situation.
1. Whey Protein
One of the most common protein powders is Whey Protein, which is derived as a byproduct of cheese production. While this powder is pretty high in protein it also contains lactose which some people might find difficult to digest, especially if they are lactose intolerant. Whey protein can come in a concentrate and an isolate form. The Whey concentrate does contain a lot of lactose, however, the Whey isolate contains almost no lactose at all as the majority of it is lost during processing.
There have been countless studies done to prove that Whey protein promotes muscle mass growth as well as helps you maintain the muscle mass you have developed with the help of protein powders. Furthermore, there has been research showing that protein powder can help curb appetite and reduce the feeling of being hungry which can help promote weight loss.
2. Casein Protein
This protein powder is also derived from milk just like Whey powder. However, the key difference is that Casein protein is absorbed a lot slower by our body. When we intake casein powder and it interacts with the acids located in our stomach, the protein turns into a gel like substance which slows down stomach emptying and reduces the absorption of amino acids into our bloodstream. The result is a prolonged and steadier exposure to amino acids which reduces the rate at which muscle protein breaks down.
Although many studies point to Casein protein as being less effective than Whey protein, there is some research that shows us that Casein protein is more effective in people who are restricting their calorie intake drastically.
3. Egg Protein
Another wonderful source of protein is eggs. You have most likely heard this in the past. The protein powder which is derived from eggs is amongst one of the highest quality powders available as a protein supplement. Besides being a great source of protein, eggs also help you feel fuller. Unfortunately, the protein powder which is derived from eggs comes from the whites of the eggs while the yolk is completely omitted. Bypassing the yolk of the egg can reduce the effects of feeling less hungry after consuming egg protein powder.
Just like many other animal-based proteins, eggs are a complete protein source. This means that the protein derived from eggs has all nine of the vital amino acids that your body can’t create on its own. Additionally, the BCAA leucine which is greatly responsible for increased muscle growth and recovery is found in great quantities in egg protein powder, which comes second only to Whey protein.
Regrettably, there hasn’t been a lot of research done with egg protein powders. This means that while we are certain that there is plenty of protein found in egg-based powders, we aren’t sure about other additional effects that can be contributed to this specific protein powder. Egg protein powder seems to be a good choice for those who want to stay away from milk based protein but still stick to animal based protein powder.
4. Pea Protein
While milk based proteins and egg based proteins can be an excellent source of protein for your daily workout, those of you who might be allergic to milk or egg products might consider taking a closer look at Pea protein powder. This protein type is relatively new and is very common amongst vegans and vegetarians.
Pea protein is derived from yellow split peas and contains high amounts of all essential amino acids except methionine. There are also plenty of BCAAs present in Pea protein.
Some studies show that Pea protein is capable of triggering the release of the “fullness hormones.” These hormones are responsible for sending messages to our brain telling us that we are no longer hungry. This is an excellent bonus on top of your protein intake and can help you lose any stubborn fat.
To fully determine other benefits that come from Pea protein, more research needs to be concluded. Currently, there haven’t been many studies regarding Pea protein. One thing is certain, Pea protein is a great alternative to milk-based proteins and other animal-based proteins.
5. Hemp Protein
If Pea protein isn’t for you, there is another plant-based protein that you can take advantage of, Hemp protein. One of the most common misconceptions that come along with using Hemp as a source of protein is that it contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana. The reality is that Hemp protein powder contains mild traces of THC which will not affect your body at all.
Although Hemp protein does contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and several vital amino acids which can bring excellent benefits to the table, Hemp isn’t considered a complete protein because it lacks the amino acids lysine and leucine. Otherwise, there really hasn’t been much research done about this protein source but it does seem to be a very well digested protein source.
6. Brown Rice Protein
Although Brown Rice protein powder has been around for a long time, there hasn’t been a lot of research done regarding how effective this protein powder is when used as a supplement to increase muscle mass. The few studies that have been concluded do show similar results to other protein powders in both muscle gain and recovery.
Brown Rice protein powder provides all of the essential amino acids but it lacks enough lysine to be considered as a complete protein. Nonetheless, it is still an excellent alternative to other proteins which might cause allergies or sensitivity issues.
What Protein Powder Should I Use?
There are other proteins available on the market which might suit your specific situation slightly better. Some of them are a mixture of a variety of different sources, generally done amongst many different plants to create a vegan or vegetarian protein powder. Some other protein powders use a combination of animal and plant-based protein sources to reap the benefits offered by both types of powders. We advise you to read the labels carefully to determine which protein might be best for you.
If you are looking to gain muscle weight quickly and effectively, try to stick to protein isolates since they usually contain higher amounts of protein in them. It might be tempting to buy the bigger tub of protein concentrate, but if you look closely you will quickly discover that there is less protein in the big concentrate tubs than in the isolate products. Always check to see how much protein is in every package by weight. Also, double check to see the amount of BCAAs present in each serving. They will help prolong your muscle growth and increase total muscle gain by a significant amount.
Those who are looking to lose a few pounds and get back to that optimal body weight index will benefit the most from casein protein powders. They promote weight loss and help you feel full over a longer amount of time. This doesn’t mean you can simply cut your calories and substitute your food with these protein powders to watch the weight fall off. Maintaining a proper exercise routine is crucial for weight loss. No matter how pure or perfected the protein powder is, without physical activity healthy weight loss isn’t possible.
If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, then opting into using one of the plant-based protein powders is your best bet. Deciding which plant based protein to use will completely depend on what you are planning to use the protein powder for. Every plant-based protein has its own set of benefits which can help you achieve your goals. All you have to do is determine which one will work the best for you. The alternative is choosing a mixed blend of protein powder which consists of different plant-based powders that more or less balance each other out. The final product won’t be as effective as Whey powder or Casein powder, but with proper nutrition and exercise you should be able to achieve the desired results.
Final Words Regarding Top Protein Powders
There are many different powders out there and most of them can help you get where you want to be athletically. However, choosing the most effective, top protein powder requires some research and basic knowledge.
Hopefully, we were able to provide most of this information here. All you have to do now is determine what is most important to you. Figure out if you have any allergies or sensitivities and decide which powder you will be using. Don’t be afraid to try different brands. If you aren’t getting the results you were anticipating, then switch it up to another type of powder. Different powders will have different effects, and it’s up to you to determine which is most suitable for you.