By Brandon Hahn Athletic Xtreme
The first question that people ask after starting exercise is, “should I get on protein?” It’s interesting that people see protein supplements as something different than other forms of protein. There’s also major concern over which variety is “best”. Protein is essential, and it’s the most essential macro nutrient in the body. Let’s look at what protein is the best for you and why!
There are a variety of different forms of protein. There’s also a variety of different ways to isolate protein into powdered form. These factors and others play a specific role in which protein is best for you. It’s also important to determine when you will be consuming this protein. The final factor is if you will be consuming it with some other macro or combination of macro’s.
There’s a near endless list of the variations of protein, but here is a standardized list of the basic forms of protein.
Whey is the most popular form of protein and offers the most versatility. It comes in various forms, such as a simple whey concentrate to a hydrolyzed whey isolate. Whey benefits most as the quick, go-to protein for your post-workout shake. It provides quick digesting protein that hits the body fast. The flavors are great, but it’s key to get a quality product from a quality manufacturer. I’ve had plenty of flavor issues with grabbing the cheaper whey proteins out there.
Casein comes next on the list, as it’s popularity is ranked at #2 on the protein variety list. It is a slower digesting protein, that clots and slows digestion to a crawl. It is the ideal protein for night feedings due to its slower digestion. The flavors of this protein are not very great. Unless it’s mainly a blend of several forms of protein. This would be an ideal protein choice for those supplementing at night.
This protein comes third on the list, and also comes with mixed reviews. It is a vegan friendly choice, but it comes with some drawbacks. Soy contains phytoestrogens and tends to be a poor choice for bodybuilders, especially males. These phytoestrogens are basically a plant derived form of estrogen. That should put up a red flag for quite a few people. The plus side to protein is that there are other options. When sifting through the science, I see no real upside to choosing Soy as your main source or go-to source of powdered protein.
Another not so yummy flavored protein. It is also slower digesting than whey, but digests faster than casein. It touts easier digestion due to it not containing lactose naturally. It also is rather difficult to mask the flavor of this powder, but is would rank higher than casein (on the flavor scale). It does possess the properties of an ideal protein since it contains a solid amino acid profile.
Beef protein has been around for quite some time. It has not gotten much attention due to whey protein dominating the market. The protein also has a great amino acid profile, and naturally contains creatine. It is a great protein in the off-season, or for those that aren’t concerned with the addition of creatine (I’m not sure why you’d be opposed to creatine, but to each their own). The flavoring is surprisingly decent on most of the newer beef protein powders.
Yes, soy is a plant, but it does get more attention than the rest of the plant derived proteins. Wheat and hemp are other choices of plant derived protein. For those looking for an alternative to the other proteins (vegans, vegetarians, etc.), then this is your ticket. The amino acid profiles of these are surprisingly decent, but the flavor tends to be awful. I have not been impressed with the flavoring of these proteins.
There are other varieties of protein out there. These are the more common varieties of protein. Some of the other’s like milk protein and even goat protein due deserve some credit. However, goat’s milk protein is not the most pleasant, but would work in a pinch. Milk protein, which is derived from cow’s milk (like whey and casein) is another good choice. It is higher in lactose, which makes it a much less popular choice.
So, we just went through quite a few versions of protein. Now, you want answers. Which is the best? Well, that depends on you, your pocketbook, and your tolerance. If you cannot tolerate lactose, then you will want a lactose-free variety, which most proteins offer. If you are looking for a slow digesting protein, but don’t want to add any fats, then casein would be the ideal choice. The better choice post-workout is whey due to its faster digestion. The key is to get enough protein to meet your daily needs. The anabolic window is highly debatable, so as long as you are meeting your daily protein needs, you have obviously found the best protein for you.