8fit's Guide to Protein Powders

Protein powders can be helpful for someone who is not able to meet their body’s protein requirements through wholesome foods.

While they can be useful in some cases, choosing a type of protein powder isn’t always easy. All protein is not created equal and some may be more beneficial than others depending on your goal.

Whey protein

Whey protein powder is the most common and affordable powders on the market. To get technical, whey is the liquid part that remains when cow’s milk is curdled and strained. To create a powder, the liquid whey is dehydrated.

Whey contains all of the essential amino acids and is easily absorbed by the body. However, since it is derived from milk, if you have lactose intolerance or a sensitivity to dairy, you may experience bloating, inflammation, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Casein protein

Casein is similar to whey as it’s a common protein powder that is also derived from cow’s milk meaning that it comes with the same difficulties for lactose intolerant individuals.

Casein is absorbed much slower by the body compared to whey protein powder and is generally a little more expensive.

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Egg protein

As you can guess, egg protein come from eggs. It is created by separating the white from the yolks and the dehydrating the egg whites to create a powder.

Egg protein also contains all of the essential amino acids. It can be a better option if you are sensitive to dairy, however, some people still experience an upset stomach. It’s more expensive than milk protein sources, so budget accordingly.

Soy protein

Soy protein is a good plant-based source of amino acids that are easily absorbed by the body and help aid in recovery. It contains beneficial phytonutrients and comes with a relatively low price tag.

A concern is that 90 percent of soy is genetically modified, which has been linked to health problems including digestive concerns so aim for organic, non-GMO versions.

Hemp protein

Hemp protein is another excellent source of plant-based amino acids, containing at least 20 amino acids — 9 of which are essential ones. It also contains more omega-3 and fiber than most protein powders.

Hemp protein powder comes with a higher price tag than most proteins.

Pea protein

Pea protein has a high ratio of protein to carbs and fat. It’s also very hypoallergenic, meaning that it tends to cause less inflammation and is tolerated by more people.

Pea protein is reasonably priced and is easily digested by the body. While it does contain all the essential amino acids, it is deficient in some amino acids. This means that it shouldn’t be used as a sole source of protein. We recommend that you aim for a 70:30 blend of pea and rice protein to make up for pea protein’s lack of amino acids.

Bottom line

The differences in protein powders lie in the speed of absorption, convenience, overall health, price, and how your body responds to it. Another thing that will differ from brand to brand is the amount of sugar and artificial ingredients. When choosing a protein powder that is best for you, aim for high quality, minimal ingredients, and one that does not cause you digestive upset.

Remember that protein powder is a supplement and doesn’t contain the vitamins and minerals found in whole food sources, so for the majority of your protein consumption, choose real food sources like grass-fed beef, chicken, fish and eggs.

Finally, most protein powders have similar exercise recovery properties. The amino acids may vary slightly, but your body will be able to replenish whatever is lacking, as long as you are eating regular balanced and healthy meals.