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Protein Supplements: Which powder is right for me?

There are plenty of protein choices out there, and it can definitely get overwhelming at times to pick the right one. So, I figured I’d make it a little easier by comparing the different types of proteins so you can make an informative decision.

Alright let’s get right into this. Here are the protein types.

Whey Protein
Whey protein is a dairy-based type of protein, one of the two proteins in milk, that includes a number of vitamins and minerals plus all 9 amino acids. The main pro for whey protein powder is that it is the most common, and therefore the most cost-efficient. Whey has been proven to help repair muscles and increase muscle strength, especially when taken within two hours of a strength training session. 

If you’re choosing whey you’ll often see additional jargon such as the words “hydrolyzed” or “isolate.” Hydrolyzed means that the protein has been broken down into smaller amino acid groups, which in theory speeds up the process of digestion. Isolate means that the company you’re purchasing from has attempted to find the purest form possible of the whey protein. Regardless, these changes essentially just bump up the price of your whey protein supplement and haven’t really been proven to have more than minuscule advantages.

Casein Protein
Casein protein is the other protein that comes from milk. The difference is how casein digests in when compared to whey. Casein digests much slower because of how it interacts with amino acids. Casein is a better protein powder in situations where a slow release of nutrients makes more sense, such as before bed when you’re going for a long period without any food consumption. Most people choose casein in conjunction with another type of fast-digestion protein, using the casein before bed, but whey or another substitute after a workout.

Soy Protein
Soy is a staple for most vegetarians. Soybeans are a complete protein, which means that they contain all of the essential amino acids. Soy is also quite comparable to whey protein in muscular growth following strength training. Soy protein also has organic compounds that have the potential to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. But, these same organic compounds, known as isoflavones, are known to interact with hormones like estrogen and may throw off hormone levels when taken in large quantities. In men, this may lead to reduced testosterone levels, which leads to even more issues. For those that are vegetarians and already using a lot of soy in their diets, you may want to stay clear of this type of protein powder to avoid consuming these isoflavones in excess. If you don’t normally eat a lot of soy, you should be fine.

Pea Protein
Pea protein is a 100 percent plant-based protein made from yellow peas. While  pea protein may not be on your radar as being comparable to whey due to the fact that peas don’t seem like a huge protein source, pea protein definitely has some serious advantages. Since it is a vegetable, pea protein has zero fat and zero cholesterol. It is also healthier than whey protein and easier for your body to digest. If whey protein is giving you stomach issues, you may want to give pea protein a try. However, one complaint about pea protein, despite having similar (otherwise known as slightly less) protein levels per serving, is that is deficient in cysteine, one of the amino acids.

Hemp Protein
Odds are you may not have even heard of hemp protein. For those that have, many attach a certain stigma to this protein type due to the connection with cannabis. That being said, hemp protein has incredibly low levels of THC, the marijuana ingredient that leads to the “high”, so you can rest assured that hemp protein can be consumed without any side effects. Hemp also has high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and is easily digested like other plant-based protein powders. The downside is that hemp protein contains more calories because of its high fat content. Hemp may not be the protein choice for you if you’re trying to lean down and/or lose some weight. Also, because the growing of hemp
 is illegal in many US States, hemp protein is often imported, leading to higher prices.

Vegan Protein Blends
Vegans have the right to the same positive effects and results from protein powder, so plenty of companies make protein supplement products to meet these needs. Vegan protein blends can use hemp, rice, peas, and/or types of vegetable based protein. Like other vegetable-based options, vegan blends have some real advantages over whey protein. Plants, again, are much easier on our digestive system. Daily use of whey protein can often cause some pretty significant stress for those with sensitive stomachs. Overall vegan blends are definitely healthier as well, because they avoid artificial sweeteners and heavy processing. Whey protein is usually processed, which diminishes the overall nutrition and quality of the protein. Some have even been recalled because they have contained unsafe levels of certain metals.

So what works for you?
There are plenty of choices when choosing your protein powder. Each one is going to amp up your results for your fitness regime. Honestly, it comes down to your personal preference, as each have their pros and cons. If you’re a vegan you’re going to want to naturally stay away from whey and casein protein since it is dairy. Additionally, if you have digestive issues or a sensitive stomach you should probably go for the plant-based protein options. And f you’re not trying to fight back flatulence as well when you’re out with friends, get away from whey.

Plant-based protein is definitely healthier. They are low calorie, better for digestion, and also avoid heavy processing. However, if that’s not a major concern for you, since most people eat plenty of processed foods and survive every day, whey is definitely the overall cheapest option.

So which do you want? I definitely think protein is the most reasonable supplement in general in the fitness industry. Sometimes it’s tough to get all our daily protein so having a supplement that gives you 25-30 grams of protein in one drink definitely helps meet caloric goals. Pick your protein and crush a glass right after your workout to see the results come in.

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