We all need protein in our diet. They are the main building blocks of the body and a macronutrient required for various body functions such as building lean body mass. Although you can naturally find it in meat, dairy, nuts, beans and even greens, it is far easier in our busy on-the-go day and age to just down a protein shake! But with so many protein powders out there on the market, which one is best for you?
Both of these have had some of their non-protein parts removed, however one has a higher protein content than the other.
Protein concentrate is a protein powder that is 70 to 85 percent pure protein (with the remaining 15 to 30 percent consisting mostly of carbohydrates and fat).
On the other hand, protein isolate which has had even more non-protein parts removed, contains around 95 percent pure protein.
2. Complete vs. Incomplete Protein
Amino acids that cannot be produced by the body are known as “essential amino acids.” "Complete proteins" refers to all nine essential amino acids, whereas "incomplete proteins" contain some, but not all, of the essential amino acids.
The 6 main types of protein
You can get protein from many different sources, but here are the six main types that you can purchase on the market, each with its own pros and cons.
- Whey: Whey protein is the number one type of protein on the market as it is inexpensive and easy to digest
- Egg: Egg protein is packed with vitamins, however, it is expensive and many people are allergic to it
- Soy: Soy is a plant-based protein, which contains all of the essential acids. Although inexpensive, the soy may be GMO (genetically modified) and affect one’s hormones
- Rice: Rice protein is hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) and contains b-vitamins, however it is incomplete (does not contain all of the essential amino acids)
- Pea: Pea protein is hypoallergenic, but incomplete
- Hemp: Hemp protein is hypoallergenic and contains all 21 amino acids, but is also the most expensive of all protein powders
So which protein powder is the best one for you?
There’s a reason why whey is the most popular protein on the market – it’s inexpensive and easy to digest. But if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, you’ll have to avoid it. Fortunately, there are alternatives, and the most effective alternative which offers the best bioavailability is to simply mix rice and pea protein.
What do I mean by bioavailability? Bioavailability refers to how much protein your body can use from a single protein source. Whey concentrate has a high biological value of 90-100 and whey isolate is even higher 100-150. Individually, vegan protein sources have lower biological values. However similar numbers can be achieved by combining various vegan sources such as rice protein with pea protein (approximately 90%).
Keep in mind that you should read the label on the protein powder that you buy and make sure that it only contains one to three ingredients, all of which are the protein sources themselves! Keep it natural by avoiding all the sugar, flavours and additional junk which are often added into protein powders. And if you find that it tastes bland, add in some fruit or condiments!
How much protein should you take?
As a rule of thumb, you should take 0.9g per kg body weight. And if you’re an athlete, take up to 0.9g per pound.