Whether you use protein powder to get an extra boost of protein after working out or enjoy it as a meal or snack, you know that there are many options of protein powder to choose from. Not all protein powders are created equally - they all vary in nutritional content, texture, consistency, and flavor - but they all have their own benefits. Some products are more suitable for those who are rigorously weight training, whereas others are perfect additions to more restricted diets. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of protein powder and what you’ll gain from each one.
Whey protein powders are some of the most popular and commonly used. Whey is a byproduct of milk and is packed with essential amino acids and is high in protein content, which helps improve bone health and immune system functioning. These powders are easily soluble in liquids such as water and milk, making them ideal for simple protein shakes. These powders are great for those looking to increase muscle mass, strength, and overall performance. They are also helpful for keeping you feel fuller for longer, which helps stop mindless eating and possible associated weight gain.
Casein is also derived from milk, similarly to whey. Compared to whey, casein is sometimes considered the best protein option out there. Casein has plenty of amino acids, but they are slowly released, whereas amino acids in whey protein are released rapidly. This results in amino acids being released in your body for a longer period of time, therefore preventing muscle loss and contributing to higher levels of muscle development and even fat loss by increasing fat metabolism. For those who do consistent weight training, casein is proven to vastly increase results.
While it may sound odd, egg protein powders are great. They are very similar to whey when it comes to amino acids, and are a complete protein source. Egg protein powder is great for improving muscle health, and contains no fat - these powders are basically made from just dried egg whites, so they're fat-free and cholesterol-free. Egg protein powder is a great alternative for those who have lactose intolerances and cannot eat whey protein. The main difference between the two is their fat and cholesterol content.
Plant-based protein powders are a fantastic option for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone who may prefer to not use egg- or milk-based sources of protein. There is a wide variety of sources used in plant-based protein powders, such as chia seeds, hemp, and nuts. Some even are focused on a specific protein source, such as pea protein, which can be low in calories, provides essential amino acids and other nutrients (like iron), and is good for heart health. Plant-based protein powders are especially ideal for those who have allergies to dairy or soy, but some powders may have a grittier or chunkier texture that is not as easy to dissolve in liquids.
Soy protein powder is a very popular plant-based option. The taste may turn some people off, but soy is a complete source of protein, which is a great addition to vegan or vegetarian diets. Soy contains all the amino acids and the body can easily absorb all of its nutrients. Compared to other plant-based options, soy protein is the closest to whey in its benefits and nutritional value. Most plant-based proteins may not have the same protein content as whey, but soy is very close. Soy can even aid in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, which other alternatives will not do.
There are plenty of organic options for all types of protein powder. These tend to be more expensive, but have regulated and certified organic ingredients and can aid in both muscle development and weight loss. Organic protein powders lack artificial sweeteners and flavoring, and are usually less processed as well. If the source of your protein has been organically produced, you may get higher protein levels in your protein powder, which is a nice bonus.