There is no denying it. Everyone has an idea of what protein is. Popularity for it as a supplement has never been higher. However, with the boom of the supplement industry, it’s become a bit of a struggle to decide which protein powder is best for you.
Simply put protein is a macronutrient that is essential when building, maintaining and repairing muscle. Protein is used to make enzymes and hormones, therefore it’s an important building block with muscles, cartilage and bones. Readily found in animal products as well as nuts and legumes. Science has also shown that protein consumed with every meal helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Just like fat and carbohydrates protein is a macronutrient. This means daily the body needs a large intake of protein. Unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body doesn’t store protein which means there are no stores within for the body to call on when it’s needed.
With guidelines set between 1 gram per 1kg (2.2lbs) of body weight to 2 grams per kilogram for very active athletes, it can become difficult and a chore to try and consume this much protein via our meals alone. This is where protein shakes and bars come in handy.
There are many different types of proteins depending on your goals as well as your training and nutrition. We’ll discuss two of the more common types available.
Likely the most popular protein choice available mainly because it’s absorbed into the body and digested faster making it ideal for consumption either immediately before or after training. Highest branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content and derived from cow’s milk. (Whey is the watery portion of milk). Having all the amino acids available will allow you to build/recover muscle faster.
Whey protein originally doesn’t taste very good that’s why you’ll see a wide range of flavours available. However, as tempting as it may be to give the new “birthday cake” flavour a try be mindful of the additional ingredients like sugars and flavourings.
Like whey, Casein protein is also found in cow’s milk. However, it’s a slow digesting protein. Depending on your dose it can take up to 6 hours to digest which makes this ideal before bed or in-between meals. The slow release promotes fullness so occasionally it can be used as a meal replacement if you have a busy day planned.
Despite being slower to digest and it not feeding the muscles as quickly as whey protein, Casein is a good steady source of BCAAs and glutamine which keeps muscle tissue breakdown at a minimum throughout the day.
Which Protein Powder is Best for Me?
There are even more types of protein within the types that we have mentioned. There is a definite need for further research especially if you’re sensitive to dairy products. Depending on your time of training as well as intensity may require more protein than other athletes. Remember, protein shakes are a supplement to your diet. Make sure that your planned meals are balanced with the macronutrients, fats, carbohydrates and protein. If you’re new to resistance training protein shakes aren’t essential. If in doubt consult a personal trainer or even have a discussion with the staff at the supplement store.