Protein powders are something of a staple for fitness buffs nowadays, and they are utilized for Post-Workout nutrition, meal replacements /dieting, convenience and portability, even just for taste. In fact, they are growing so popular that protein shakes are derived from just about every source you can think of – milk, egg, hemp, soy, pea, and many others. But what is the difference? Is there even one? Learn about the most popular protein powders and sources, as well as how to select one that is right for you.
- Whey – By far the most widely used. Whey is derived from milk, and is the quickest digesting protein source available. It is essential for bodybuilders and weightlifters because of the rapid rate of absorption, making it ideal for Â post-workout. Whey is usually very low in fat and carbs and full of essential amino acids.
- Casein – The other protein found in milk. In contrast to whey, casein is extremely slow-digesting, causing it to sit in the stomach for hours – this provides a consistent source of protein without raising insulin levels or triggering fat storage. It is most commonly taken before bed, as it prevents the muscle catabolism that can occur overnight.
- Egg – Was previously used as a staple, until whey became developed. Is a rich, clean source of protein, but takes longer to digest than whey.
- Rice – Although it is less commonly used, and more expensive, rice protein does not trigger any allergens that whey and casein may cause (or for those lactose intolerant). Rice protein is slower digesting and lacks many of the essential amino acids found in whey and casein.
- Hemp – Allergen free, high in fiber, and free of artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately the fiber slows the rate of digestion and it is pricier. Hemp protein is still widely used by vegans and vegetarians.
- Soy – Does not cause lactose-related issues, but is slower digesting, lacks essential amino acids, and is not completely digestible. There have been some issues lately that indicate that excess soy can cause a rise in body estrogen levels – this is still unsettled.
Which protein powder you choose is ultimately up to you and the governing factors – price, taste, availability, etc. The two most widely used in the bodybuilding community are whey and casein, as both serve their own respective purpose. Rice and Hemp are also common for those seeking a plant-based source, or as a supplement for the ill/elderly in order to keep their protein intake at a healthy level.