Some companies market protein powder as a miracle weight-loss product. But don't fall for this; you don't need protein powder as long as you can get protein from other sources.
The biggest benefit of protein powder, in my opinion, is that it is an easy and convenient way of getting your daily protein intake. Personally, I like protein powder because I can keep dry powdered protein and then put it into water and I'm good to go. Fast and simple.
So, let's take a look at some of the different types of protein powder out there:
The most common powders are going to be whey proteins. These are broken down into whey isolate and whey concentrate. The whey isolate is usually what's recommended because it has more strict regulations as to how much protein and how isolated it has to be called an isolate. When you get to a concentrate, it only needs to be 20% concentration of whey protein to be considered a concentrate. So, you just get it more pure if you go with isolate protein. They do tend to be a little bit more expensive but you also get your money's worth.
You can also go with casein protein. Again, this is another one much like whey in that is derived from milk. It is one of the two major proteins in milk. Basically, what it does is it actually clumps together in your stomach, which makes you feel a little bit fuller. A lot of people take it before bed, especially guys who want to build muscle. If you know you can't eat for a while, then casein protein is a good option for you.
Casein tends to be more expensive than whey. There is no statistically significant difference in muscle gain between the types of protein, especially when it comes to whey and casein. It's just that the time of release tends to be a little more varied.
This is a vegetarian protein derived from the soy plant. The soy plant is one of the few plants that actually has a full complement of proteins. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you should be well aware that plants do not tend to have a full complement of essential proteins. So you have to get your proteins from many different sources. Soy is one of the few exceptions to that.
There is, however, back and forth research as to whether soy has a greater or lesser anabolic effect than whey and casein protein. The theories behind this stem from the fact that it has natural phyto-estrogens. These produce two different overall effects. One may be more anabolic because it is preventing your natural estrogen from binding. For males, this may be beneficial. The other one is that it has estrogens, or estradiols in it, therefore it allows for more female-like characteristics.
However, this is still up for debate. If you are taking soy protein as a male and find that you are having some issues with extra fat across your chest or something like that, you can try switching to your second vegetarian-based protein, such as hemp protein. These do not contain phyto-estrogens.
As it pertains to females, I actually recommend soy protein for a lot of females as the soy proteins tend to have a greater complement of vitamins and minerals.
On the far end, probably the most expensive in most cases is probably going to be hemp-based proteins. These will have a lower amount of phyto-estrogens if none at all. They do get you your full complement of proteins just like an animal protein or soy protein and they also hit the vegetarian and vegan aspect of it.
Hemp protein is more expensive because it is a less common. But the big takeaway from this is that all proteins will help you re-build muscles and they are healthy for you assuming you don't have a kidney or liver issue to begin with. If you do suffer from a kidney or liver issue, please consult a doctor before you make any modifications to your diet.
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