Protein Powder Basics And Beyond By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
Protein is the fundamental building block of muscle growth. Yeah, complex carbs and healthy fats play important roles too, but protein is the primary driver. Spurred in part by tremendous advances in research, there has been a huge explosion in the varieties of protein powders being sold-so much that it can be overwhelming and confusing. This article will sort it all out and help you make the right decision about which protein powders are right for you.
There are a range of different types of proteins sold as powdered supplements for bodybuilders: egg, whey, casein, milk and soy.
Egg protein is considered to be the granddaddy of all proteins and the gold standard to which other proteins aspire to be. Nutritionists agree that in terms of protein quality, egg protein is second to none. It is packed with essential amino acids (EAAs) and is ideal for persons with milk allergies or lactose intolerance. The protein from whole eggs ranks a little higher in quality in comparison to protein from egg whites.
The next two proteins on the list-whey and casein-are both derived from milk protein, which is comprised of about 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein.
Whey protein is far and above the most common type used in the majority of powders on the market today. They're easily digested and like egg proteins, are also loaded with EAAs as well as the three Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). Whey proteins come in three different varieties: concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates.
Whey protein concentrates are the most economical variety but they also have the lowest overall protein level. Isolates are bit more costly but on they also have higher protein levels. The last one-hydrolysates-is whey protein that is partially broken down, which results in faster digestion and absorption.
Casein proteins comprise the bulk of the protein in milk. Casein takes more time than whey protein to digest and absorb into the body. Because of this, it's often taken right before prolonged periods of fasting such as at bedtime.
Soy protein is far less commonly taken by bodybuilders than any of the others. It has the lowest overall protein quality among the ones I've discussed and also ranks lower than the others in terms of other nutritional benefits such as EAAs.
There are five typical times when bodybuilders take their protein shakes: in the morning; before working out; after working out; in-between meals and right before bedtime.
A protein shake taken right after you wake up provides a stable, sustained energy source after the nutritional void of sleep. It also provides a shot of amino acids that are used in muscle recovery and maintenance. The faster-acting whey proteins are favored for that "good morning" kick.
The pre-workout protein shake primes the body for the workout to come. Taken about an hour before, whey and egg proteins are favored here because of their rapid digestion and content of muscle-pumping EAAs and BCAAs.
The post-workout period-about 30 to 60 minutes-is a critical time in which your body craves protein. After a good training session, your muscles are nutrient-, enzyme- and hormone-starved sponges, anxious to soak up everything they need to launch into the recovery process. Here, whey, casein or egg protein can do the trick.
As a between-meal snack, protein shakes are ideal. They not only knock out hunger pangs but they also help to keep your metabolism functioning at peak level. For between meals, dairy proteins (whey, casein or milk) are the best because they provide a "full" feeling than other proteins.
Last, we come to the bedtime protein shake. Because of the long nutritional drought ahead, slow-digesting casein protein is the clear favorite. Its amino acid-rich formulation helps to fight against any muscle breakdown that can occur during periods of sleep.
Like I say, there are all kinds of different protein powders from which to choose. It's especially handy that manufacturers have devised various blends to meet specific needs (pre-workout, post-workout, etc.), which can make it easy to choose exactly what you require. The downside is that you can wind up spending a lot of money on all sorts of different protein powders.
In making your choice, think about your goals, your needs and your budget. If you want to economize you might consider a blended protein, which is designed to be the "middle of the road" between fast- and slow-acting proteins. In any case, you've now got the information you need to make an educated decision about what's right for you.