There seems to be a lot of confusion about Protein in general and this has carried through to Protein powders as well. So let us de-mystify what is really a straight forward subject. Firstly let’s have a quick look at why our bodies need Protein and then we can examine how Protein Powders fit into the equation and which ones may be suitable for you.
What does Protein Do?
Protein is an essential component of the body. The organs, muscles, brain, nerves and immune system are all, to some degree, comprised of protein. You use protein to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
Since protein is one of the fundamental building blocks for the body, you need to ensure that you get enough in your diet. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet your body simply breaks down muscle tissue to get what it needs (this is called catabolism). A lack of protein in your diet can lead to low energy levels, muscle breakdown, fatigue and weakness.
If you are reading this then you are probably an active, health conscious person that requires more protein than the average couch potato. Most of your protein should come from whole food sources (fish, meat, dairy, etc) however Protein powder can augment your diet and accelerate you towards your goals when used properly.
What different types of protein are there?
WPC – Whey Protein Concentrate is the by-product of the first filtration step of processing the liquid portion of milk. It contains varying amounts of fat and carbs in the form of lactose and the percentage of protein varies from about 30% to about 80%. Higher percentage WPCs are suitable for post-workout shakes, while the lower percentage are great for meal replacements and/or cooking with.
WPI – next step of filtration produces Whey Protein Isolate. This process excludes more fats and carbs, yielding a much higher protein content of more than 80%. Due to it being processed an extra step, its rate of digestion is also accelerated. Great for post-workout shakes.
HYDROLYSED WPI – the extra step of filtration, excluding what-ever carbs and fats were left in the WPI processing. This yields an even higher protein content of more than 90% and increased rate of digestion. Optimal for post-workout shakes.
CASIEN – this is the solid portion milk (recall that WPC was the liquid). It is considered the slow release (digesting) protein due to its nature to coagulate in the stomach. Therefore, it takes up to 6 hours to completely digest; perfect for a pre-bed-time shake or before longer periods of fasting to ensure a constant stream of amino acid delivery.
BEEF – the beef proteins usually come in the Hydrolysed Isolate form and are digested very rapidly. Because it is not made from whey, it has a different amino acid profile. So think of it in terms of a really fast digesting steak. It is also lactose free, and therefore a good substitute for those with lactose intolerances or milk allergies.
VEGAN – usually a blend of pea and brown rice proteins in order to make a complete protein. Earlier we touched on different amino acid profiles between beef and whey, but they are both complete proteins. Most plant sources of protein, on the other hand, are incomplete: they are missing one or more essential amino acids (amino acids your body cannot synthesise and need to be consumed in the diet). Pea and brown rice complement each other as they’re high in the amino acids that the other is lacking: blended together make a complete protein. In this case, the protein is suitable for meal replacements and post-workout shakes.
What Protein is best for me?
As you can see above, there are several different protein types to choose from, each with their own unique properties and benefits! The simplest way to choose a protein to work out which type best suits your specific needs, goals and training regime!
Sports Performance and Recovery: For those who undertake regular sporting activities and wish to enhance their performance and recovery, we recommend that a quality fast absorbing WPI (or hydrolysed WPI) be consumed directly after games/training. Technically all proteins are good for recovery but supplementing with a fast release protein like a WPI will ensure the exercised muscles have access to amino acids to start the repair and recovery process straight away. Gen Tec Nutrition Hydro Pro or Bioflex Nutrition Hydroflex are ideal choices.
Weight Gain: Weight Gainers consist of WPI/WPC protein blends with added carbohydrates. The carb to protein ratios differ significantly according to how difficult it is for an individual to increase bodyweight. If you really struggle to gain weight, we would recommend a powder with a large amount of carbohydrates per serve (Dymatize Super Mass Gainer or ON Serious Mass). However, for those who want to insure the weight they put on is just quality muscle, then more moderate carbohydrate content (Bioflex Nutrition Biobulker or Next Generation Mega Grow) would be better choices.
Lean Muscle Gain: For those who undertake strength training in order gain lean muscle, we recommend a quality low carb/low fat WPI or WPI/WPC blend be consumed directly after exercise or gym sessions. Lean muscle gain is all about ensuring the body has a constant supply of protein (amino acids) to repair and grow. During the rest of the day, you should rely on solid food sources of protein or a Protein blend that contains both whey and casein. A high quality WPI will also be low in lactose or may even contain the lactase enzyme, making it suitable for Lactose intolerant individuals. We would recommend ON Gold Standard Whey, BSc WPI or Dymatize Elite Whey.
Fat Burning/Toning: If you are trying to lose fat/ tone up and generally improve your overall health and fitness, we would recommend a Fat Burning Protein. Fat burning proteins usually contain a quality blend of WPI/WPC protein for muscle recovery, are low fat/low carb/low calorie, and contain some mild burn burning ingredients to help the body shed those unwanted kilos. Are best sellers include Bioflex Nutrition Biofurnace or BSc Hydroxy Lean 5.
Supplementing Vegan diets: Vegan Proteins are great for people wanting to increase the daily protein intake while adhering to the vegan lifestyle or wanting to avoid dairy based Proteins. Popular Vegan proteins usually consist of Pea Protein, Rice Protein, Soy Protein or a combination of these. Organic and artificial sweetener free options are also available. These are also popular for those who are Lactose intolerant. We would recommend Bioflex Nutrition Biolife or BSc Naturals Organic Planet Protein.
Avoiding artificial sweeteners/colours: For those who wish to have all the recovery qualities of a regular protein powder, without any of the possible nasties such as artificial colours/sweeteners, we would recommend a natural protein powder. These are suitable for males and females of all ages and contain no artificial colours, sweeteners, preservatives or fillers! Bioflex Nutrition make a range of Natural WPI and WPC products that are perfect for these individuals.
Night Time: For those who want a protein powder that will take their body a long time to break down, then we would recommend a slow release casein/blend protein. Night Time proteins gradually release amino acids into the blood while you sleep, giving the muscles nutrients to repair themselves, accelerating the recovery process. Popular choices include Gen Tec Nutrition Casein Custard and UPS Labs Protein Mousse!
All protein powders at PLANETMAX are naturally gluten free. With our extensive range we are confident that we have the protein powder you need to realise the body you desire.
Shop our entire range of protein powders here!