The types of protein on the market seem to be on the rise in recent years. Perhaps the inflation is due to the overwhelming amount of people taking on new lifestyles; yet want to stay within certain parameters of one said lifestyle. Frankly I am all for it, after all, variety is the spice of life, but it can make choosing the right protein quite the challenge. So where do we start? I believe a basic understanding of the variety alone can help most people narrow down which protein to choose. Let us start there.
In an ideal scenario we would get all our protein needs from whole foods. Fact is, there is no better way to do so, but that isn’t always the case for the different lifestyles we lead, different goals, and different needs. This is where protein powder becomes the “go to”. Protein powders are measured on Biological Value (BV). This value measures the efficiency of your body’s ability to absorb and utilize the protein based on nitrogen retention. Fun fact; the air we breath is only comprised of 21% oxygen, 1% random elements, and 78% nitrogen. It’s easy to see where nitrogen retention associated to BV can play a huge role in muscle building. In any event, the higher the BV rating the more it promotes lean muscle. Whey protein rates the highest, followed by egg proteins then milk based proteins. Beef and soy follow behind the three juggernauts while bean and plant ride the caboose.
We know and understand Whey is the alpha when it comes to BV. It promotes the highest amino acid profile, can reduce facts such as stress, cortisol levels, and blood pressure. It is the shinning factors as well as many other positives that makes it the grand daddy in most cases, but where it gets tricky is that whey itself has more than one form. Yeah, gets better. Whey can be subcategorized into isolate and concentrate, both of which have their benefits and drawbacks depending on the need. To the point, isolate is absorbed at an even more rapid rate than concentrate, so this makes it the optimal protein for post workout, where as concentrate may work as a good alternative for meal replacement of sorts. It boils down to goals, as does any avenue of nutrition.
This protein has been very popular and has won the test of time. Knowing that an egg is the most readily absorbed protein we can consume in whole food form, it is easy to see why people have stuck with this form of protein powder for decades. We still need to ask the question of goals when deciding to use egg protein because while it is absorbed faster than most, it still has subpar absorption compared to whey. This makes it equivalent to that of whey concentrate at best, something to be consumed during the day or as a meal replacement, not the choice powder for post workout consumption. We also need to be avid about educating ourselves on the grade to which the powder is, after all, it comes from eggs, and a lot can go wrong here. Factory-farmed eggs can house antibiotics as well as hormones that can aggravate hormonal issues that may be underlying or cause antibiotics resistance in some cases. It isn’t all-bad! When done right they house a considerable amount of vitamins and potential antioxidants thanks to the high amounts of vitamin E when dealing with pasteurized raised chickens. Another plus side is that they are lactose free, giant benefit for those who have issues in that department.
These proteins might be more recognizable as Caesin, because that seems to be what they care mostly promoted as on any given label. Dairy in general gets a bad wrap from time to time, but in the end nobody can deny the support for both immune function and muscle growth that casein offers. While it has a lower BV than whey and egg, this protein has become a staple for nighttime shakes because of its slow breakdown. Caesin releases slowly into the blood stream at a steady state, warding off the catabolic breakdown some people fret over while they sleep. If you sleep for 6-8 hours (really no matter the duration) your body is fasting during this time span, or for that matter, running off of whatever was digested last. This makes casein the crowned jewel because some forms can take as long as 6-7 hours to run its course, again, helping ward off the big bad wolf know as catabolism. If you’re one of these people that only gets a few solid meals throughout the day it may be a good alternative to consume in-between meals to keep the body using food as energy opposed to muscular breakdown. It should be stated that science has prevailed and now offers lactose free milk proteins, but again, you must do your own research to see if the brand is going to hold true to its value.
This tends to be a rare breed of protein that at one point could only be found through liver tablets. No matter the era people can agree that increased beef consumption often correlates with increased muscle growth, meaning it would only be a matter of time before someone put this set of ideals in motion for a powder. Off the top of my head I can only think of one brand that has made a name for itself as the leading beef protein on the market – Carnivor. Most people don’t realize that beef houses creatine, but we often don’t get anywhere near the desired dose due to size of the cut or even more often the degree at which it’s cooked. Since there’s such a delicate game in delivering certain nutrients with cooking beef, this makes a beef protein ideal with its ability to keep the nutrients and vitamins in tact and ready for absorption.
The soy bean gets rave reviews for its positive health benefits in reducing the risk of certain cancers, reducing high cholesterol and increasing bone mass aiding in the fight against osteoporosis. Having said that, there’s a fair amount of literature that supports the increase in estrogen with excess soy, to which increased estrogen is eerily associated with breast and endometrial cancer. Mind you, these statistics aren’t targeted toward any certain group, it’s just a fact that must be taken into consideration when looking at the proteins (and other foods for that matter) to consume. Asian cultures can be seen living with the soybean almost as a daily duty, yet there isn’t a grossly overstated rise in associated cancers. It’s looking at the big picture. Soybean makes it into a lot of our processed foods, and even some that might be considered “good”. An example of this would be a fair amount of shelved peanut butters. Look at the ingredients and often times soybean oil is one of the first 4 ingredients listed (the list in order of amount rendered). It is when we cumulatively start to ingest an abundant amount of soybean that we have to ask ourselves, “How much is too much?” This ultimately leads me to the protein powder, which by itself is an incomplete protein that grades fairly low on the BV. While it can be considered an excellent source of protein to some and has positive health benefits, are we getting an excessive amount of soy elsewhere that maybe an alternative protein should be in the loop? Or perhaps paired with a more complete protein to make the most out of it. Be mindful and educated.
There are many routes to the same destination; it boils down to goals. Protein is an excellent aid in both building muscle and losing fat. Protein has a thermogenic effect, helps suppress appetite, plays a vital role in muscle repair and rebuilding, as well as many other positives. If you workout to any degree the question isn’t IF you need protein, it’s more so HOW MUCH and WHAT TYPE.If you have any questions please feel free to send us an email. We are more than happy to help someone understand such a dynamic avenue, or perhaps even just explain some things we may have left unanswered. Hope you enjoyed the rundown!