In case you missed Part 1 of Protein Powders, click here. This week Sarah Jones, Nutrition Counselor for Mountainside Fitness Carefree goes way beyond whey to give us the scoop on the rest (casein, hemp, egg white, pea…), plus she matches the protein powder to your workout (which one fits yogis?), tackles the pros and cons and answers the proverbial question: Do we really need protein powder?
How to Pick the Right Protein Powder for You, by Sarah Jones, Nutrition Counselor for Mountainside Fitness
A snapshot of the other scoops out there…
Casein: a complete protein derived from milk that’s absorbed by the body at a slower rate than whey. It’s taken up directly by the muscles instead of first having to be metabolized by the liver, providing a longer lasting source of amino acids. Because of its slow release, casein is a good meal replacement because you’ll stay fuller longer. It’s also an optimal pre-bedtime supplement, supplying the body with protein when it goes into a catabolic state (aka, muscle wasting). If you decide to add this to your diet, opt for calcium caseinate – it’s the purest form.
Egg White: a complete protein that’s low in calories and fat. It digests at a moderate rate, so it falls somewhere between whey concentrate and casein. It also contains BCAA’s, thus it has a similar effect on lean muscle growth as compared to the milk proteins. So, if you aren’t vegan and are lactose intolerant, this is a great option. But beware: it’s one of the more expensive protein powders on the market.
Hemp: a plant-based protein that’s ideal for vegans. A near complete protein, so you’ll want to pair it with a pea or brown rice protein powder. It’s also rich in omega-6 fatty acids and is a good source of fiber.
Pea: plant-based, this is another great alternative to traditional protein powders, especially for those following a vegan diet. Because it’s not a “complete protein,” you’ll ideally want to pair this with a rice or hemp protein powder. Despite its plant-based origin, it still contains BCAA’s, making it an excellent choice for vegan athletes and exercise enthusiasts.
Brown Rice Isolate: plant-based and not a complete protein, so again, you’ll want to pair it with either a hemp or pea protein to complete the amino acid profile. But, at about 90% protein, Growing Naturals brand has 24 g per serving (double the amount of regular brown rice powder) and an amino acid profile, making it highly bioavailable to the body and well absorbed. According to their website and a small clinical study, “whey now shares the sports nutrition trophy with rice protein isolate.”
Soy: a complete plant-based protein. But be mindful of your soy intake; it can be highly processed and genetically modified. It may also not be a wise choice for women, as it’s been associated with an increased production of estrogen. Takeaway on this one: don’t use soy as your sole source of protein.
Match your protein powder to your workout personality
Resistance training and athletes = whey protein (if not lactose intolerant or vegan) or egg white
Vegan “yogi” = rice protein isolate + hemp or pea or soy
The pros and cons of protein powders
* Simple and convenient
*Easy way to boost protein in the diet
*High quality supplements can get pricey
*Protein powders are often void of the carbohydrate needed to refuel muscles
*Nutritionally speaking, protein “shakes” don’t measure up to complete meals
Do we really need protein powder?
*All protein can build muscles
*Generally speaking, proteins from animal foods are complete and plant-based sources are not
*Getting protein from food sources vs. supplement sources is the way that nature intended it…food for thought?
*Real foods provide a balanced package of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are often missing in engineered foods
*Casual exercisers need not to worry: people of ALL ages and sizes have been building muscles for centuries with nothing but REAL food
*Exercise, not protein, is the KEY to building bigger muscles