What protein should I take?
Every day we get asked the same question whether in one of our stores, our website, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube channel…”What protein do you suggest?” Now sometimes people are just asking for our opinion on what brand to take. However, most of the time, they have no idea what types of protein to take, when to take them, or even what protein is. They just know that one of their buddies or their trainer told them that they need protein. So, I am going to try to explain, in a very simple and easy to understand way, what the different types of proteins are, when to take them, and why. I may not talk about every single protein known to man, but I am going to hit on all of the major ones that are sold on the health food market today.
What is protein?
Well, according to Dictionary.com, Protein is any of numerous, highly varied organic molecules constituting a large portion of the mass of every life form and necessary in the diet of all animals and othernonphotosynthesizing organisms, composed of 20 or more amino acids linked in a genetically controlled linear sequence into one or more long polypeptide chains, the final shape another properties of each protein being determined by the side chains of the amino acids and their chemical attachments: proteins include such specialized forms as collagen for supportive tissue, hemoglobin for transport, antibodies for immune defense, and enzymes for metabolism.
Get that??? Yeah…me neither. Simply put, protein is the building blocks of all muscle and consists of strains of amino acids. Amino Acids are the building blocks of all life as we know it. Our government will tell you that you can not live without carbohydrates, well one…yes you can…I mean explain Eskimos…and two…try living without proteins for a week and see how you feel! An old school lifter will tell you that you need a supplement amino acid to build muscle mass, which they are right…but not exactly. Let me explain…old school lifters used to take in huge horse pills after horse pills of amino acids to build muscle. Well, studies show that our bodies absorb amino acids faster and more efficiently through protein sources. Now, 1000mg of amino acids makes up 1 gram of protein. So, if you take in 25 grams of protein, you are basically taking in 25,000mg of amino acids.
So what are the types of protein?
It should be noted that while I am a “supplement guy,” you really should try to get the bulk of your protein intake from food sources. Good sources like meats (beef, chicken, fish, turkey, etc.) are best. However, some of us don’t have time to sit and eat that much so protein powders, and bars are the next best thing. Now to the types of protein supplements….
Whey protein – “King of all proteins,” as I have heard it called. Whey protein is the most popular protein by far on the market. Whey protein has the most abundant amino acids of any protein source that we have found to date. It is also the quickest to digest. This makes whey protein ideal for a post workout shake. Funny history about whey protein…Whey protein is a by-product from turning milk into cheese. They use to throw whey in the trash!! It tasted awful and just looked nasty. However, once they discovered what a valuable source of amino acids it contained….bam…now it is a HUGE multi-million dollar market. The United States is estimated to produce over 450 million pounds of whey by 2015!!! There are several types of whey proteins you will see on the market. The differences between those are for another blog…another day. Two quick very general points on the different types of whey. 1 – There is not a single study showing that by taking a “high grade whey versus a cheaper whey” gives you better athletic performance. 2 – Whey is a dairy product. Although it is very low in lactose, those that are sensitive to lactose should be leery. Due to the high demand for dairy in general worldwide (China encourages its population to drink powdered milk, Gatorade came out with their G-Series drinks, etc.) the price of whey has sky rocketed in recent years. Back in the early 2000s you could by a 5lb whey container for only $25 bucks. Now, it is around $50 to $80 for a 5lb!
Egg Protein – Egg protein is “Natures Perfect Protein.” You remember Rocky, throwing raw eggs in a blender and chugging it down?!?! Yeah…don’t do that…you will probably get sick. Egg protein is a complete protein with a digestion rate of about 2 to 4 hours. That makes egg protein, an ideal protein for a meal replacement or a in between meal snack. Egg protein, has always been slightly on the pricey side. However, in recent years it has become about the same price as whey, and the price of egg protein has been fairly stable over the past decade. Since egg protein is not from a dairy source, it is the ideal protein for individuals that are lactose intolerant or just have sensitive stomachs.
Casein Protein – Casein protein is a dairy product. Casein is also listed as “Milk Protein” on the nutritional labels. It is fairly high in lactose naturally. Around 80% of the protein found in milk is casein. Casein is a very slow digesting protein. This makes it ideal for bedtime. You will see marketing terms like “Time-Released” or “Slow Acting” associated with casein. Again, because this protein is high in lactose, if are you lactose intolerant avoid this one like the plague. If you are not, you should really consider adding casein to your supplement regimen. Remember, you don’t build muscle in the gym; you build muscle while you sleep. By taking casein at bedtime, your body will have plenty of amino acids to use to build or rebuild those muscles during R.E.M. sleep or “deep sleep,” which takes about 4 to six hours to get into.
Soy Protein – Soy protein is derived from soy beans. Soy protein is in fact a complete protein. A complete protein is a protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. (These are amino acids that our bodies cannot make and we must get them from food sources.) Soy Protein is very popular with vegetarians. Soy protein has a lot of health benefits especially but not limited to women. Soy protein is used to help lower LDL cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, and slow the progression of kidney disease, and on and on. That being said, here is the “contrivercy with soy for guys. Soy Protein contains “isoflavones” which are changed in the body to “phytoestrogens,” which are similar to the hormone estrogen. When men specifically, consume phytoestrogens in high enough quantities, they may experience gender-bending effects. Over the past two decades the FDA as promoted soy protein as a great healthy addition to everyone’s diet. Well, I encourage everyone to do their own research on this. This is just my opinion, but I believe from my own research that men should avoid soy at all cost. Again, there is plenty of information out there for both sides of the argument. So, I strongly encourage you to do your own research and form you own opinion on soy. With that being said, soy digests very slowly in the body similar to casein. So, soy is a good bedtime protein as well as a protein to take as a meal replacement or a protein to take during long periods without eating.
Beef Protein – Beef protein Isolate, was introduced on the supplement market a while back but never gained popularity until recently. Even today, it is not the most popular protein on the market. However, it is gaining some steam. Beef protein isolate, is really a great form of protein. Unlike red meat, beef protein isolate is very low in cholesterol if it has any cholesterol. So now, you can get some of the benefits of red meat without the saturated fats and bad cholesterol. Beef Protein isolate is a complete protein and actually has a digestive rate similar to whey. So, beef protein isolate makes a great post workout protein and since beef is not derived from milk, it is completely lactose free. There are two big hurtles that I see beef protein isolate has. One issue is the taste perception. When people think of beef…chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla does not come to mind. However, there are some on the market that actually tastes really good. Two, is the cost. Beef protein isolate was thought my some companies to be the solution to the unstable dairy market prices. However, due to recent droughts, high cost of feed, and other factors, beef protein isolate is NOT a cost effective protein source for the supplement industry.
Buckwheat Protein – Buckwheat protein is a plant based protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids to be called a complete protein. It is a great protein source for vegetarians and for people who are lactose intolerant and/or just want to avoid dairy sources. Buckwheat is easily digested with a digestion rate slightly similar to soy protein.
Hemp Protein – Hemp protein is derived from the seed of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp protein is a plant based protein that is a complete protein. It is in my opinion the best plant based protein on the market. It is a good source of essential fatty acids, is easily digested, and has a broader range of amino acids than other plant based proteins. Hemp protein is very popular amongst endurance athletes like MMA fighters due to it being a more alkaline and natural protein source. Hemp protein, like other plant based proteins, digests slower than whey protein.
Pea Protein – Pea Protein has recently become a popular protein source in the supplement market. It is considered a “green” protein because it comes from a plant source. Pea Protein is considered a complete protein. Most supplement users are taking in pea protein and not even knowing it. The FDA now requires companies to manufacture products in GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) facilities. While the GMP does some good things, the one thing it does that is negative, is it raises the cost of doing business. So, since it costs supplement manufactures more produce a product, they pass that on to the consumer. However, I got some bad news for you. There is always a “threshold of pain” when it comes to the amount the consumers will pay for any product and that is no different when it comes to protein powders. Since the price of protein keeps going up, supplement manufactures are always looking for ways to reduce the cost of product. One way to reduce the cost of protein powders, especially whey protein, is to put more carbohydrates or fats in the product. ***Spoiler*** Another way they can reduce the cost of producing whey protein is to mix in some pea protein and that is just what is happening. With the GMP, comes certain testing’s. When they go to test the purity of a whey protein batch with the GMP testing methods, they cannot detect the pea protein. Supplement companies can reduce their costs up to 20% by introducing pea protein to their 100% whey protein powders.
Now I realize that there are more types of proteins out there on the market, but the ones I have talked about in this blog are the most popular ones.
How much protein should I take in?
Anyone who has ever lifted a weight is going to have a different opinion on how much protein one should take on a daily basis. Some people say you need a gram per body weight. Others say you need 1.5 or even 2 grams per body weight. There are other people who say we need much less. I don’t think anyone is going to be right on the amount we need because we are all different. What I need on a daily basis is going to be way different from another person. Just my opinion, I think someone should take in a gram per lean body weight. (Lean body weight is your total weight minus your body fat.) Keep in mind that when someone tells you to take a certain amount of protein a day, they do not mean to get all of that from protein powders. You need to factor in the food sources of proteins you eat and then whatever you are lacking after you eat all of your foods, and then you supplement your protein needs with a protein supplement. After all, a supplement is supposed to supplement your diet.
Now don’t fall into the trap of, “A person can only absorb a certain amount of protein at a time.” While this is true, there is not magic number that fits everyone. I know my personal max protein intake is between 45 to 55 grams at a time. Any more that than, my stomach gets upset. So, you have to play around with your protein intake.
What is the best time to take in protein?
I suggest taking in protein every 3 hours. However the three key times of the day to take in protein are breakfast, post workout, and bedtime. Here are the reasons why.
Breakfast – You need to “break the fast” of sleep. You just gone through 6 or more hours without protein. Perfect time to get some in your body.
Post Workout – Remember, you don’t build muscle in the gym, you rip them up. That is why we get a pump. Your body is flushing blood into the muscles to try to give them nutrients to rebuild them. This is the best time to take in a fast digesting liquid protein (such as whey) to flood your muscles with the key amino acids to build the muscles stronger and faster.
Bedtime – You are going to go 6 or more hours without feeding your muscles. Plus, again, you build muscle while you sleep. It is important to take a slow digesting protein (such as casein) to slowly feed those muscles overnight while you recover.
For more information about proteins or supplements in general, please check out our YouTube Channel for product reviews at DSNSportSupplements or contact us through our website at www.SportSupplements.com. You can also reach us by clicking here.
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