I don’t know about you, but the protein powder section in the grocery story can be pretty darn confusing. Between the different brands and types of protein (whey, casein, pea, hemp, soy… ), my head is spinning faster than an Olympic figure skater. Sure, I could avoid the confusion by skipping ’em altogether, but sometimes I want/need a bit of protein to throw in the blender post-workout. Protein fills you up and curbs cravings, plus it helps repair muscles after a workout. HELP!!!! To decode protein powders once and for all, I went to Sarah Jones, Nutrition Counselor for Mountainside Fitness N. Phoenix. Here she wheys in on the many powders so you can pick the best one for you….
How to Pick the Right Protein Powder for You, by Sarah Jones, Nutrition Counselor for Mountainside Fitness
When choosing a protein powder, first consider your goals, budget and any allergies or intolerances that you may have. Here’s a rundown of the different types…
The scoop on whey
What’s all the hype anywhey? Whey has been the standard “go-to” protein supplement for years and it all begins with milk. During the cheesemaking process, whey (which makes up 20% of the protein found in milk) and casein (which makes up the other 80%) are separated. Whey used to be discarded, but today we use it in supplement powders. Pretty smart, right? Now here’s the kicker: there are three types of whey protein: whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolysate.
Whey concentrate: a complete protein (complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids – our bodies can’t make these) made from milk that’s highly bioavailable to the body and easy to digest. It’s typically about 80% protein and more economical than whey isolate or hydrolysate. It’s a fast-acting source for protecting muscles from breaking down during exercise and useful for post-workout recovery. With naturally occurring branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s), it may promote a greater increase in lean muscle mass (as opposed to other types of protein sources). Whey concentrate might also have a health advantage over whey isolate and hydrolysate, as it boosts glutathione production, an important antioxidant in the body. If you aren’t lactose intolerant and just want a general protein supplement, this is a good option, just be sure to purchase one that’s at least 80% protein.
Whey Isolate: a complete protein made from whey concentrate and often lactose free, it undergoes further processing which yields an end product with a higher percentage of whey protein (about 90% protein and virtually fat-free lactose). It’s more expensive than whey concentrate and the extra processing destroys the health promoting substances you get from whey concentrate. Because it’s more rapidly absorbed than whey concentrate, it triggers an insulin response that helps drive amino acids into the muscles, making it popular for post-workout.
Whey Hydrolysate: a complete protein made from whey isolate that undergoes even further processing making the taste slightly bitter. It absorbs more rapidly into the bloodstream than concentrate or isolate, but is less commonly used. While it’s higher in protein than whey isolate, it also comes at a higher price.
To be continued… tune in next Tuesday for the rest of the scoop on protein powders