Protein supplements are critical for big muscle growth and repair, which is why so many serious bodybuilders and fitness lovers consume them. Proteins are mainly ingested as protein powders, and come in many types and varieties, including whey, casein and egg. However, these different types of proteins act differently in the body, and cause very different reactions in terms of muscle growth and repair.
So in short, not all proteins are equal. Here are the three most popular types of protein powders, their differences and specific benefits.
Whey protein is one of the most popular proteins used by athletes and bodybuilders and it excels in its muscle enhancing effects to help not only build muscle and enhance body composition, but also to speed the recovery of broken down and stressed muscles. Derived from milk, whey is a by-product of cheese making. The top companies use new methods in its manufacture, and their methods typically deliver the best whey protein.
Whey is considered to be the fastest-digesting “complete” protein, which means that it contains all the essential building blocks of muscle, and particularly high amounts of branched-chain amino acids. Whey helps replace key proteins that are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue that is depleted during exercise.
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Whey is delivered as a protein concentrate with anywhere between 29 to 89 percent protein, and as the protein level decreases, the amount of fat and lactose increases. Because of its fast acting properties (it peaks in about 40 minutes, and its effects wear off in an hour), it is often recommended to consume a whey protein shake within 30 minutes to an hour after training. Those with acute lactose intolerance cannot usually consume whey protein concentrate.
Whey isolate is a form of whey protein that has had more non-protein components (fat, cholesterol, lactose, carbohydrates) partially removed, so it’s higher in protein (more than 90%) than the concentrate. This version of whey protein can often be eaten by those who are lactose intolerant, because whey isolate only has about one-tenth of a gram of lactose per tablespoon.
Casein is responsible for the white and opaque appearance of milk, as it is a combination of calcium and phosphorus and it makes of 80% of the protein in cow’s milk. It contains all of the amino acids essential to life, so casein is a complete and highly nutritious protein.
One prominent property of casein protein is that it is digested slowly with a peak in blood amino acids and protein synthesis between 3 to 4 hours, after consuming casein protein. Casein slower-digesting properties make it ideal for building muscle while you sleep because casein produces a stable elevation of amino acids that lasts for up to seven hours.
As it provides a prolonged release of amino acids over time, it acts as an appetite suppressant and reduces muscle damage that can typically occur 48 hours after a workout. Taking casein before, during, and after exercise, effectively supports muscle protein synthesis and also boosts endurance and strength gains. Also, those who are lactose intolerant can take casein protein.
#3. Egg White Protein
Egg white protein powder is an animal based highly bioavailable protein source with no dairy. It is typically made from dehydrated egg whites that have been pasteurized and processed into a fine powder. Egg white protein has the highest level of bioavailable proteins because its amino acid pattern most closely matches that needed for human growth.
Egg protein is considered the most nearly perfect source of protein and is naturally devoid of carbs and fat. Egg-white protein is digested at a moderate rate, somewhere between very-fast-digesting whey and very-slow-digesting casein and therefore not only boosts protein synthesis, but also prevents muscle protein breakdown. Egg-white protein doesn’t contain lactose, so it’s great for those people who are lactose intolerant.
Keep in mind, if you eat foods that are rich in fat or fiber take much longer to digest, you can slow the absorption of all proteins.