There are so many protein powders available to purchase it can be overwhelming if you are trying to find a powder that best suits your requirements!
I remember when I first started exercising, I walked into a nutritional store and was utterly confused at all the choices that were available. I could buy a whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, a casein, soy, rice, pea, wheat, milk or egg based protein powder. Or, I could buy a protein powder which had a blend of a mix of ingredients. Where do you begin?!
In this single article, I am not going to be able to tell you exactly what is the most suitable for you as your circumstances will be quite different to the next person's. However, I will be able to provide you with a general guide for one of the most common goals.
Choosing a protein powder to build muscle is one of the most common predicaments. This is the number one reason why people purchase a typical protein powder supplement - to enhance muscle gain. But all protein powders are not created equal! There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages with various forms of proteins.
The science strongly supports whey protein based protein powders to be the most effective at encouraging muscle synthesis (or gain). Whey protein (derived from milk) is a super-high quality protein that is quickly absorbed into the body, making it ideal for pre- and post-workout supplementation. Whey proteins typically fall into two categories:
Whey Protein Concentrates (WPC): Which are quite fast absorbing proteins.
Whey Protein Isolates (WPI): Which are even faster absorbing proteins due to further processing.
WPI is obviously more expensive and is generally regarded as the most effective form of protein supplementation pre/post workout. However, a blend of WPI/WPC is a very effective mix that won't break the budget.
Other proteins do have other uses:
Casein proteins absorb slowly over approximately seven hours (will vary between individuals). So this is good when the body doesn't need a fast acting source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) - such as before or after a workout. Generally this is most useful prior to bed to provide a slow absorbing stream of protein throughout the night. Many protein blends also include casein for slow absorption throughout the day.
Whole Milk and Egg based proteins are of quite high quality, yet will take hours to digest. These are commonly found in protein blends and can be very effective to be ingested during the day if you are unable to consume sufficient protein from food.
Soy proteins are very poor in quality relative to milk derived (whey, casein) and egg derived proteins. If you are trying to build muscle, soy protein will yield significantly less results than higher quality proteins. However, they are the best quality available for people who have dietary limitations and cannot consume milk based products. Soy is much cheaper than milk based proteins.
Grain and vegetable based proteins are very low quality and are very cheap. Unless you have a specific dietary recommendation, stay away from these products.
If you are looking to purchase a protein powder, be sure to check out our supplement store!