15 Nov The Inside Scoop on Protein Powders
So, how do you sort through all the different types to determine which one is best for you?
Let me try to clear up some of the confusion so that you can choose the best protein for what you’re specific goals are.
First, let me give you some background on just how big the market is for protein supplements. Sales of protein supplements have been growing at an enormous rate.
If you can believe it, sales of protein products these days are in the range of 5 billion dollars a year and is expected to continue to grow.
What’s the big attraction with protein and why are billions of dollars being spent each year on these products?
Protein powders and supplements offer convenient and simple ways for people to meet their daily protein requirements and offer such benefits as lean muscle building, muscle repair and recovery, and strength enhancement, just to name a few.
It doesn’t matter who you are, there seems to be a big benefit in supplementing with protein to some extent. After all, protein is the building block necessary for normal human growth. There are many physiological reasons that we need protein, including having significant roles in immune function, tissue growth and repair, and due to the fact that hormones, enzymes, and antibodies are primarily made up of proteins.
Now that we have established that there is a clear need for proteins, let’s try to sort through the confusion on the different types that are currently available.
Whey protein is one of the most popular and the most studied of all the proteins. As a matter of fact, if there is a clear, proven winner in protein supplementation, you could argue that whey is the king. Now, not all whey is created equal. This means that there are many different brands and varieties of whey protein available.
One of the major ‘under the radar’ benefits of whey is that is elevates the production of glutathione (which is potentially one of our most important antioxidants). Whey protein is also abundant in BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids), which are key amino acids that are critical in lean muscle building. Whey protein has been shown to have numerous health benefits.
The downside to whey? Whey typically comes from dairy sources and people may have issues with dairy products, could have some tolerability challenges.
Also, many whey proteins are processed and undergo a high heat process to isolate the whey protein. It’s also very important to look at the quality of the protein and the list of ingredients. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. If you go with whey, try to get the cleanest source possible and a true quality protein. Shop wisely.
It seems most people think soy is a “healthy” protein. I would say that soy protein is quite controversial these days.
What are some of the negatives of soy? For starters, soy contains isoflavones, which can raise the estrogen levels in men (not a good thing). There can also be a negative effect on thyroid function.
Did you know that approximately 99 percent of soy protein is genetically modified and contain a very high chance of being contaminated by pesticides?
How about the fact that soy contains phytic acid (which blocks the uptake of key minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron).
Oh, and soy has not been shown to increase lean muscle mass anywhere near the extent of whey protein, as mentioned above.
Enough said on soy.
A vegan friendly protein, hemp comes from the hemp seed.
A good quality protein with a combination of healthy fatty acids.
Drawbacks are clearly the lack of actual protein in each serving size. What I mean is that the actual content of protein is much less than a whey protein. You would have to take much more hemp to equal the same number of grams of whey protein per serving.
Additionally, the taste may not be very appealing to you. You may want to sample this one before buying a large supply to see if the taste is going to work for you or not.
Also, there’s a lack of clinical data to support lean muscle building, in comparison to the mountain of data with whey protein. So, if you’re interested in adding more lean muscle, hemp protein is not the protein of choice, at this point.
Maybe the jury is still out on Hemp protein, but we’ll see.
BROWN RICE PROTEIN
Brown rice protein appears to be a strong quality protein on the rise.
Brown rice is minimally processed and is very nutritional dense, containing many important vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
It is also a rich source of fiber and selenium (which has a host of health benefits for thyroid function and immune function).
Sprouted brown rice is even better and more nutritious, with more fiber and more amino acids than regular brown rice.
An important feature of brown rice is, surprisingly, it is a high quality protein source.
It also contains enzymes that separate the protein from the carbohydrate. The result is a quality, protein dense, highly nutritious protein source.
A final point is that brown rice protein also contains high amounts of arginine and glutamine, two very important amino acids important for muscle growth and recovery.
Brown rice protein looks to be very promising and has abundant benefits. Can it dethrone the whey as the king in protein? Time will tell.
There are even more protein types than the ones I listed here. For a previous article on protein types, see what you need to know about protein supplements.
Hopefully, this information provides some helpful perspective on navigating your way through the evolution and growth of the protein supplement market.