We have all heard protein is our best friend when it comes to lifting weights and developing muscle. But what is the best protein to take? When should we take them? These are all valid questions and the first step in deciding which protein supplements are best depends on your fitness goals. There are three popular types of protein, whey, soy and casein. Each one of these sources are used and absorbed differently within the body. These distinctions are very important for athletes to know to promote optimum performance and muscle growth.
First, let’s talk about whey. This is an animal-based protein found in cow’s milk. Whey makes up 20% of the protein in milk and contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Essential amino acids are not made within the body and need to be consumed from outside sources whereas nonessential amino acids are made within the body. This is one reason why whey protein is such a popular dietary choice for essential amino acids. Whey also has the quickest absorption rate into the body compared to soy and casein. This makes it ideal for a post workout supplement because the body is depleted and in need of muscle repair and whey can deliver that quickly. Whey is also prominent in many baby formulas due to its richness in amino acids.
Next, we will look at soy protein. This is a plant-based protein derived from soybeans, making it preferred amongst people who are lactose intolerant or want to avoid animal products. Soy has an intermediate absorption rate into the body, which is still good for post workout muscle repair and maintenance. Some real positives in using soy protein is its anti-oxidative properties and its link to decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer in consumers. Soy protein is usually popular in pre and post workout supplements.
Finally let’s discuss casein, whey protein’s bigger slower sibling. Casein is also found in cow’s milk making up 80% of its protein value and is responsible for curd formation in the process of making cheese. Casein is also considered a complete protein making it a good option to acquire essential amino acids. Unlike whey, casein has a very slow absorption rate into the body making it a smart choice as a snack during the day to stave off hunger or to be taken before bedtime to ensure the muscles will be receiving a steady supply of amino acids throughout the night. This helps in recovery, synthesis and prevents muscle catabolism.
Whey, soy and casein are all great dietary sources of protein, it’s just up to you how to use them. Personally, I prefer a mix of both whey and casein in my diet. Whey is a very important part of my post workout supplementation because of its fast absorption rate, and I take casein before bed to help my muscles repair throughout the night. There are also many supplements out there that have different amounts of whey, casein, soy, and egg proteins mixed together into a powder providing benefits from all sources. Regardless of preference, protein is vital to the body especially if your exercising regularly so please do yourself a favor and incorporate one or all varieties into your diet if you haven’t already done so! All powders depicted above are available on our site so please check them out!