Head to your local health store and you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of products on the shelves. Suddenly, your quest to buy protein is no longer as simple as you thought it’d be. That’s because no products seem to be labeled as just “protein.”
The best type of protein powder depends on your diet and fitness goals. Whey and casein proteins can help with muscle mass. Pea and egg proteins work for food allergies, lactose intolerance, and meat-free diets. Hemp protein is gentler on the digestive system. Soy protein is low-cost.
As much as we agree that there are far too many types protein powder alternatives out there, they all do have their own unique benefits. So, we’re going to review six of the most common types of protein and each’s protein powder benefits.
Daily Protein Recommendations
The most important thing when it comes to protein is making sure that you’re getting enough every day.
Here’s what that means for you.
- For the average person, getting at least 0.80 grams per kilogram of body weight should be sufficient.
- When you’re looking to put on some more muscle mass, up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight would be better.
Post-Workout Protein Intake
The values we mentioned in the previous section describe the amount of protein you should be consuming over the course of an entire day.
But, does it matter how much protein you’re getting in right after a workout?
Well, most studies lead toward “yes.”
One particular study found that consuming 20 grams of protein within a few hours after a workout generated the greatest results when it comes to muscle gains and post-workout recovery.
The Most Popular Types of Protein
Don’t buy any protein powder just yet!
First, let’s go over the most popular types of protein powders that you’ll see in stores so you can choose the type that’s best for you and your health and fitness goals.
When you do your research on the best protein powders, there’s no doubt that most sources will lead you more toward whey protein.
In fact, whey protein is undoubtedly the most popular type of protein powder on the market today. That’s because whey protein is recognized for its ability to cause a boost in strength and muscle mass.
Yet, the greatest concern when it comes to these effects is that whey protein is known for causing weight gain. But, you need to know that the weight you’re gaining is most definitely muscle mass.
It’s also absolutely important to note that whey protein comes from dairy products. Though it’s relatively low in lactose content, it still can cause gastrointestinal issues in those with lactose intolerance.
For our vegetarian friends, we did a little research on the increasingly popular pea protein.
And, before you ask, pea protein does actually come from the pea plant (yellow peas, specifically)!
What’s great about pea protein is that it’s both vegan and hypoallergenic. That makes pea protein the ideal dairy-free protein powder for anyone who choose a vegan (or vegetarian) diet or has any type of food allergies in general.
Pea protein is a solid choice if you’re looking to lose weight, increase muscle size, and vastly improve your overall health.
That’s a direct result of pea protein’s ability to help you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure while also lowering your appetite. This can ultimately lead to weight loss in the long-term.
You may have heard that eggs are high in cholesterol and can be bad for your health in large amounts. But, we can’t say the same about egg protein.
That’s because egg protein is actually made from the whites of eggs, not whole eggs.
Egg protein is one of the best types of protein powders when it comes to leucine content. So, that means you’ll be able to build much more significant muscle mass without putting on too much weight as a result of your protein intake.
Egg protein is often used as an alternative for those looking for animal proteins, yet not interested in consuming dairy products.
The biggest issue you’ll find with egg protein is that it doesn’t do much in terms of controlling your appetite. So, you’re going to have to keep a close eye on what you’re eating during the day.
We know what the name implies, but hemp protein is really not what you might think it is.
In fact, it’s one of the best plant-based protein powders for anyone that’s currently on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
The greatest benefit of hemp protein is how easily digestible it truly is. That’s because most hemp protein powders actually have about 20% or more of your daily recommended intake of fiber (which can also help to lower your blood sugar).
Though hemp protein is a great alternative to some of the more popular animal or dairy-based proteins, it doesn’t have all that much protein per serving.
And, even though it does have a higher fat content than other types of protein, the fats are mostly unsaturated, which could be beneficial to your heart health.
When it comes to the more popular types of protein powders, casein protein comes in at a close second just behind whey protein. That’s likely because the two proteins are very similar, both coming from dairy products.
What’s unique about casein protein is the rate at which it’s digested by the body.
Since it digests at a much slower rate, there’s a much lower risk of muscle breakdown and you can better maintain the current levels of amino acids in your blood.
Though there seems to be evidence that casein protein can nearly double your muscle growth and cut down on your body fat significantly, remember that this is a dairy product. So, this is not a viable option for you if you have lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
Last but not least, we have the somewhat controversial soy protein.
Of all the alternative protein sources that we’ve gone over thus far, soy protein appears to be the best when it comes to improving your cardiovascular health. Soy protein is a great option if you have a low budget and are looking to add a little protein to your diet.
But, it’s also important to note that soy protein powders actually have the least amount of protein per serving. So, it might not be the best if you’re looking for muscle gains.
What’s pretty great about soy protein is that it can lower your LDL cholesterol levels and it doesn’t have any fat like most protein powders do.
Overall, soy protein is a great option for anyone who’s vegetarian or lactose intolerant.
For the average person, whey protein will do just fine and lead to increased strength and great muscle mass. But, we know that most people aren’t exactly “average.”
So, here are our recommendations for best protein powders.
- The Best Protein Powder Overall: Whey Protein
- The Best Protein Powder for Muscle Growth: Casein Protein
- The Best Protein Powder for Food Allergies/Vegetarians: Pea Protein
- The Best Protein Powder for a Lower Budget: Soy Protein
- The Best Protein Powder for Digestion: Hemp Protein
- The Best Protein Powder for Lactose Intolerance: Egg Protein