Protein Supplements – Which Type of Protein Powder is Best?


Before I get into the types of protein supplements and the recommended amounts per specific individual, please remember that protein is one of the most over consumed supplements out there. Typical American diets contain more than enough protein for the typical individual. That being said, some individuals, specifically athletes and individuals who are training (whether it’s cardio, strength, etc) do need increased amounts of protein. Let’s get to the pros/cons of the most popular forms of protein supplements.

Soy Protein
Soy protein is derived from soy beans. Soy is the only “complete” protein that is a plant product-versus meat proteins. Soy may be detrimental to males who supplement with it due to the correlation between it and increased estrogen levels. Soy is considered a complete protein due to it contains all the essential amino acids for human nutrition.

Whey Protein
A high quality protein derived from milk. It is abundant in muscle building amino acids. Whey is digested quickly, which can lead to rapid, but short-lived spikes in amino acid levels and can lead to an increase in muscle protein synthesis.

Casein Protein
Also a high quality protein that is derived from milk and is abundant in amino acids. Casein is more slowly digested than whey, which seems to inhibit protein breakdown, as compared to the faster digestion of whey.

Egg Protein
Egg protein is an alternative to the milk based proteins and the soy based. There are some perspectives out there who believe that all dairy products should be avoided by both childhood and adult populations due to a correlation to hormone levels and our nationwide obesity crisis. As result of these perspectives, one may consider supplementing with egg protein.

I am a true believer that you are going to be most productive by consuming nutrient rich meals. If you want to increase your protein consumption, then focus on lean proteins: chicken, turkey, fish, and lean red meat. But, if you after you’ve taken the time to analyze your diet and your energy needs, then you may need to supplement protein-potentially pre and post workouts. But, which of the above proteins are going to be most beneficial to you and at what time of your nutrition program?

The general clinical recommendations include this brief summary: Since casein is slowly digested and whey is a fast digesting protein, both should be considered for supplementing but at different times in the day. Due to the slow digestion process of casein, research leads us to believe that casein will be more beneficial if consumed at bedtime-this will aid in evenly distributing the protein over the eight hours (remember, sleep is essential to growth and recovery-if you want to get stronger, bigger, faster, fitter, etc you need a minimum of 7-9 hours sleep) that you sleep.

Whey, on the other hand, is easily digested and broken down into the blood stream. As a result, it is recommended that whey be consumed pre and post exercise, where the results can be quickly consumed and aid in replacing protein stores used during intense exercise. Whey becomes even more productive in supplement form when combined with a carbohydrate supplement (general rule of thumb is 2/3 carbs and 1/3 protein).

As for soy and egg, when compared to the other two, in my research I’ve performed, it should be your last option of the three listed due to amino acid content and protein synthesis. The protein synthesizing capabilities are considerable less than that of the milk based protein sources. But, if you are lactate intolerant (milk sensitivity) then soy (if you are a female) or egg could be good alternatives.

In summary, protein is WAY over supplemented. But, if you are a high intensity training athlete, you may want to consider the above forms of protein. You have to realize, more isn’t always or usually better. If you over consume protein, just like anything else, it will just turn to waste and you will have the most expensive material in your toilet in the entire neighborhood.

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About Author

James Romans is a certified sports nutritionist, performance enhancement specialist, and conditioning specialist. He has over ten years of experience in health and fitness, physical education, and coaching. James has a master’s degree in Exercise Science and a bachelor’s of science degree in Kinesiology. See my profile page for more information!

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