Which type of protein should I look for? How many grams of protein? What type of carbohydrate source? How many ingredients?
These are the types of questions one should consider when looking for the right protein supplement and if you want to gain muscle, lose fat, and look and feel great, using a quality protein supplement is key in helping your body recover after training and ensuring you ingest enough throughout the day.
WHICH TYPE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The different types of protein powder commonly found consist of whey, casein, and soy. Each are quality sources, but they differ dramatically in the rate at which they are digested and are absorbed. Whey protein is water soluble and is rapidly digested. On the other hand, casein is water insoluble and digests very slowly due to its peptide properties (ingest before bedtime with a casein powder or cottage cheese). Soy protein overall is inferior to both casein and whey as it contains a much lower leucine content (Branched Chain Amino Acid responsible for muscle protein synthesis) and about 85% less EAAs. Soy has also been shown to possibly inhibit the release of growth factors and protein synthesis through a specific signaling pathway. Although all serve a separate purpose in the diet for promoting positive protein balance to build muscle, whey is far superior in promoting muscle protein synthesis and glycogen replenishment following training.
These protein powders can then be broken down into different grades: concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate. Each of these varies from one another based on how they are filtered and how easily they can be digested.
A protein concentrate is created by moving the protein source through a filter which separates the protein from minerals and water forming a protein powder which consists of on average about 75-85% protein along with about 5-8% lactose. Therefore, those who have lactose intolerance should avoid whey protein concentrate.
A protein isolate is digested more easily and is a much purer source of protein than a concentrate (90-98% protein, trace amounts-no lactose). An isolate is further filtered through 1 of 2 processes called cross-flow microfiltration and ion-exchange. Ion-exchange exposes the protein source to hydrochloride and sodium hydroxide which produces an electric charge on the protein which separates it from lactose, fat, and other byproducts. Cross-flow microfiltration uses small ceramic membranes to filter the protein, further separating it from lactose.
A protein hydrolysate is further processed to almost become partially digested. Therefore, it does not take much for the body to digest it and can digest in roughly 10-30 minutes. You will pay an increase in price for hydrolysates. There is research suggesting hydrolyzed proteins recover glycogen stores and stimulate muscle protein synthesis quicker, but I would add the price may not be overall beneficial versus an isolate in the long run.
LOOK FOR A WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE or HYDROLYSATE!!!
HOW MANY GRAMS?
Try to look for a powder that provides you with 20-30 grams of protein. The body can only take on about 30 grams of protein at a time. The rest is either converted to fat for energy or excreted. So, products that promote 50-60 grams of protein have no true added benefit while also costing more.
WHAT ABOUT CARBOHYDRATE SOURCE AND INGREDIENT LIST?
The best protein powders will contain a fast acting, natural carbohydrate source such as glucose, stevia extract, sugar cane, or fructose (although fructose will stay with you longer, it can cause GI distress). The faster the carb source the quicker you will replenish your glycogen stores in the muscle. Steer away from proteins that will list an ingredient list of 50 things containing artificial fillers, colors, sugars, and flavors that will wreak havoc on your hormones. If you cannot pronounce most of the ingredient list, it is a good note to probably stay away from.
SO, WHAT PROTEIN SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Choose a protein which consists of a whey protein isolate, 20-30 grams, a natural carbohydrate source, and a minimal ingredient list.
My top 5 brands:
1a. BioTRUST Low Carb...visit this link, they also make the best protein bar on the market
1b. ThorneFX Whey Isolate...Follow Link Below. Only available through a Nutritionist or Registered Dietician
3. BioTest Metabolic Drive
4. TrueStar TrueStrength