Welcome to our guide on protein powder supplements. We often run into customers who have either confusion over when to take protein supplements or which ones they need and when. With this guide, we are hoping to educate those of you who might have been misled or not informed properly on how, when and why to supplement your diet with protein.
Why do I need Protein Supplements?
We all need protein intake as part of our diets. Protein is responsible for allow our bodies to repair and regrow muscle tissue. Your body uses protein to make hormones and other chemicals your body produces. Protein is the building block of bones, blood, skin and much more.
While it is true we can get enough protein from foods to live, an athletic person or someone who pushes their bodies with exercise, may not be getting enough. When we work out, our muscles get broken down and the body attempts to rebuild them. Without enough protein to repair, the muscle cannot be rebuilt stronger to deal with more stress while working out.
Unless you eat lots of chicken, fish and beef 5-6 times a day, you most likely are not getting enough protein to keep your muscles fueled and repaired. Most people today just do not have the time (or money) to cook, prepare and eat enough protein to properly keep an athletic body fed with enough protein. This is where supplements come in. In only 1-2 minutes, you can easily get 25-50 grams of protein just by adding powder and water in a cup.
When Do I take Protein Supplements? How Much Do I Take?
That all depends on a few factors. If you are trying to put on lots of muscle, then protein should be taken several times a day plus post workout. If you just want some extra protein in your diet, twice a day might do it. (With at least one of those times being post workout) If you are just taking it for muscle repair, then post workout is your best time. It usually takes a little while to figure out how much you need based on your diet, workouts and goals. Most bodybuilders tend to agree that 1 gram per pound of body weight per day is sufficient for most. Example: if you weigh 180 pounds, then you would be shooting for 180 grams of protein daily.
Types of Protein Powders
You may have noticed when looking around, there are some different types of protein powders available. Since this is a full fledged guide to protein, we will list them all below as well as what they are used for.
Whey Protein Concentrate : Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is considered to be the "lowest" for of protein powder. It is higher in fat, calories and fillers. It is very inexpensive compared to other protein sources and typically not sold only as part of a blend. WPC can range from around 30% actual protein to as high as 80%. If a label does not say the percentage of WPC, then typically you will get on the lower range. The downsides to WPC is higher calories, higher fat, can be very low in actual protein content and can cause bloating and stomach upset. The Upside is that it is cheap, slower digesting and has more nutrients than filtered proteins.
Isolates can can come from many sources: Chicken, Egg, Beef, Milk, Whey and more. Isolate protein is one of the highest forms of protein powder you can buy. It used to be suggested as a post workout only due to its rapid absorption, but more and more people are switching to isolate every day, since it is much easier to digest than WPC. Isolate protein is a high form of protein since it is at LEAST 90% protein. Isolate typically does not have any lactose or fat and is low in calories. The downsides to isolate are that it does not "fill you up" due to its rapid digestion and it can be expensive. The upsides are rapid absorption, (goes right into your muscles) easy to digest, low calories, No fat and fillers.
Hydrolyzed protein is a protein source that has been broken down into its component amino acids. This means it is the fastest absorbing protein as it needs less "digesting". Upsides to hydrolyzed protein are quickest absorption and super easy to digest. Downsides are super expensive and only used for certain people/circumstances.
Protein blends are when a company mixes several different types of protein together to get the best of both worlds. MOST of the regular protein people buy today is a blend of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. This gives the customer the slower digesting more nutrient dense WPC with the easier digestibility and rapid absorption of isolate. This is also a cost effective method as it is cheaper than pure isolate. Also, some companies like Beverly International's UMP and Nutrabio's Muscle Matrix mix Whey and Casein for a more time released protein approach. The main thing about buying a blend is to ask questions and make sure it is a quality product to meet your goals.
Casein is a milk derived protein that is a lot different than other proteins on our list. Casein is a slow digesting protein that actually "gels" up in your stomach and breaks down very slowly. This slow absorption is really good for feeding your muscles over a long period of time, such as when you are sleeping. Casein is typically called the bedtime protein for this reason. The upside to casein is that it feeds your muscles for a long period after ingestion, usually tastes really good. The downsides are it is expensive and can cause bloating if taken too much, therefore best taken at bedtime.
Whey protein is probably the most popular protein supplement in the world. Whey protein is a cheese byproduct. Whey protein is inexpensive and rapidly digests making it an easy and cheap way to get your protein needs met. The main problem with Whey protein is that most people think that Whey is Whey. This couldn't be further from the truth. The FDA allows a lot of leeway in calling a product Whey Protein. WPC can range anywhere from 25% to 89.99% protein content! In whey isolate, this is not as much of a concern as they have to be at least 90% (or higher protein content. When buying a whey protein, do your research so that you get your monies worth as most companies do NOT list the WPC amount in their blends, except for Nutrabio.
Plant Based Protein
Plant based protein can come from peas, rice and other plants. Plant based protein is best for Vegans. It is usually a pretty clean protein source, but the taste and texture are usually very different and not as well received as other sources.
Egg Based Protein
Egg protein is kind of self explanatory. It is basically eggs turned into a powder. A great protein for those wishing to switch it up and get different amino acid profiles from their protein supplement sources.
Animal Based Protein
Animal based protein supplements usually come from beef, but we have also seen chicken and Salmon, like that found in Redcon1's MRE and MRE Lite. Like Egg protein, meat based protein will give you a different profile of nutrients to supplement your body with. Good animal based protein is usually expensive and if not good quality can cause stomach issues.
We hope this has helped inform you as to just what protein supplements are out there and what they are used for. Have any questions or think there is something we missed? Let us know in the comments below!