What is the best protein?

What is the best protein?

We give you the key facts so that you can figure out which is the best protein you can buy

In this article we are going to establish certain criteria to take into account, that as users and consumers, of one of the products that is in greatest demand, especially if we maintain a sporting life, we can find.

We are talking about Protein powder.

Protein shakes for everyone

If we have experience in the sector, we will quickly know what to choose. However, if it is our first time, the feeling will be similar to that of a child visiting a sweet shop for the first time: he is eager to buy, but cannot decide why, due to the wide variety

Protein scoop

There is a wide variety of protein supplements

The market for sports supplements has experienced an exponential growth in recent years, establishing a high level of competition between the different manufacturers, who also offer a high variety of products, in different formats, shapes and colours…

And, of course, compositions that fit any profile, both sportsmen and women and sedentary people.

It is possible that in our environment the amount of people who drink at least one protein shake a day is out of hand. Years ago, this was something strange and reserved only for the faithful at the gym.

Fortunately, people have been “opening their minds” and looking beyond those powders that are mixed with water, they can be sure that they provide nutrition. This is what Protein Shakes are all about.

Smoothies

The famous “smoothie” can be made with Whey Protein

We will not talk about the benefits they bring us, since this is not the purpose of the article, and in this case, we can go deeper into this in this article

How to know if a protein is the best option

Nowadays, carrying out a previous study of a product that we want to buy, taking into account a series of factors, can be a benefit to our research.

Obviously, if we consider the economic savings, on the one hand, and on the other, the rule of “the best is the most expensive” may not always be fulfilled

Next, under my personal experience as a WHEY consumer, for years I tried different types of these proteins, I take note of what would be the most relevant points when getting a protein, and of course, cataloguing it as the best, BUT WHAT IS THE ANSWER FOR THE BEST FOR ANY PERSON

How much protein do you need

As I mentioned before, first study, and then buy… So, the first thing we have to observe, if we want to optimise, would be to know the amount of protein you need per day.

Don’t think that by taking more protein, you will get more muscle… this is something that just doesn’t happen for many.

It could be said (I am opening a can of worms here…) that the intake of protein is highly overrated, in the sense of ingesting a high quantity at each meal, sometimes recommended by certain gurus, without stopping to think that if anyone could pay attention to them and that by looking more closely at the other 2 macros (carbohydrates and fats), we can make an effective overall calorie count for each subject, taking into account their subjective qualities (body composition) and activity (purpose and objective), resulting in a boost in performance, loss of fat or increase in muscle mass.

Having obtained our protein breakdown, it is now time to decide which type of protein is best for us

Type of protein according to the origin of the raw material

Type of protein according to the origin of the raw material. We can differentiate in this first classification fundamentally 2 types (animal origin, plant origin). Within each group, several types differ, already depending on the font itself. This fact will condition the choice of one or the other according to our type of feeding. Below are the types of protein based on the source we can find in the sports nutrition market:

Animal Origin

  • Dairy (Whey or buttermilk)
  • Meat
  • Egg (Albumin)

Plant origin

  • Soya
  • Pea
  • Rice
  • Hemp
If our diet is vegan/vegetarian, we will opt for those of plant origin

Protein shake

On the other hand, if we do not discriminate against food sources, we will have a wider range and in that case we can opt for those of animal origin

Type of protein based on protein percentage

We can perform a general classification according to the composition of the protein. In such a case, we will mainly encounter 2 types:

Protein concentrate

This type of protein can be framed as the protein that is extracted from the source, usually milky (Whey Protein Concentrate).

In performing this process of protein extraction, we separate from the milk the Serum (Whey, or what everyone knows as fast-absorbing protein) and the Casein (or slow absorption protein)

Thus, you get a product of high protein value, with very low fat and carbohydrates

It is usually the most economical protein and the one most people can access as their “first supplement”. The percentage of proteins that can be obtained ranges from 40 to even 85-90%, speaking of the raw product.
It is a good choice to help complete the protein requirements of our food

Protein concentrate

Both the Concentrate and the Whey Isolate are two excellent sources of protein that are accessible to practically the majority of the population

Protein Isolate

This type of protein is obtained from the previous one, through a refining process, whose goal is to maintain the protein part and eliminate practically completely the other macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates).

It is also sought to leave protein fractions intact (depending on the processing mode, such as CFM or Double Cross Flow Microfiltration). That is, we seek to leave a product as pure protein as possible.

We can find products with up to 85-90% protein ready-to-eat

This purpose can be taken advantage of by people with deeper requirements than merely incorporating protein into our diet and who, therefore, have already established a nutritional plan adapted to achieve their objective

Concentrate or Serum Isolate?

Up to this point, we can find on the marketH:

  • WPC or Whey Protein Concentrate
  • WPI or Whey Protein Isolate
If we consider ourselves athletes, who plan our training route, we have established a rigorous training plan and of course, “we take it seriously”, the choice of a Whey Protein Isolate would be more than justified.
If you want to dig deeper into the differences between isolated and concentrated whey protein, click here
Other arguments for choosing the isolate would be the fact that it keeps intact the prosthetic fractions, which can help to boost our immune system, it provides a higher aminogram, especially in BCAA’s, of which leucine is considered as an activator of protein synthesis, or be better digested by its almost non-existent amount of lactose.

Strawberry protein

The range of flavours offered by the manufacturer is also important

Type of protein according to the speed of absorption

We link the above heading, this time we make a classification according to the absorption rate of the protein, without mentioning the source (dairy, meat, vegetable…), which we find on the market. We basically list in 2 types of proteins:

Quick absorption

Within this group we find:

  • Whey Protein Concentrate(WPC),
  • (Isolated Whey Protein - WPI),
  • (Hydrolysed Whey Protein - WPH).
Special mention would be the latter, which takes a step further the character of rapid absorption, due to its treatment and molecular modification (hydrolysis)

Progressive absorption or slow absorption

This is where you see the difference and also with other sources such as egg. It is also quite common to find products that are mixed from several sources with different absorption rates, giving it the sequential release category.

Fast, slow and/or progressive, it is a criterion to be established, and that has a close relation to the next point

Hydrolysed protein

This type of protein can be obtained either from the WPC or from the WPI, mentioned above, maintaining the characteristics to these products (% protein, amount of fats, carbohydrates…).

Within the product catalog, we can also find proteins based on hydrolysing meat isolate

Now let’s deal with a pre-digested type of protein. That is, a protein that has undergone a hydrolysis process by which its molecular structure will become made up of a certain amount of di and tripeptides.

The protein is composed of chains of amino acids. For our body to absorb it, it needs to be reduced to these minimum units. A hydrolysed protein will contain a large amount of di-tri or oligopeptides (two junction, three or more amino acids) depending on the degree of hydrolysis you suffer (to a higher degree, higher concentration of dipeptides).

Our intestinal cells will immediately absorb di-tripeptides, while the rest will still have to be digested. We are therefore faced with a fast acting protein, which can be obtained from a “purer” (isolated) source and which will therefore be a high-performance product.

In my view, this would be the ideal protein to take for training, for those looking to perform Peri-training Protocol, with the aim of flooding our bloodstream with amino acids quickly and providing them to cope with the train or to accelerate recovery once it is completed

Type of protein according to the time of use

Other criteria to consider will be when we are going to take the protein, which we have seen that they have different absorption ratios.

In accordance with our “timing“, we may be interested in taking a Concentrate or Serum Isolate, and even Hydrolysed, or Casein

Training after waking up

Then we must synchronise our meal intakes with our training:

  • Training after waking up
  • Training at midday/during the day
  • Training in the evening
  • Training before bed

Training first thing

There are those who train on an empty stomach, or those who have a meal beforehand. If you are one of the latter, bear in mind that if you eat before training, and of course you want those nutrients to be available when you start your sports session, you should take something that is as fast as possible.

This is where the protein hydrolysate fits in, taking it around 20-30 minutes beforehand, as it will be assimilated very quickly, as well as not presenting any type of stomach discomfort, and therefore allowing you to be in full condition (amino acids in the blood) for training.

Training during the day

If our afternoon session is delayed, taking it to mid-morning or even mid-day, we can keep the previous scheme, as long as we don’t have a pre-workout meal (about 1h before).

In this case, we could include the Serum Concentrate or Serum Isolate as a meal, which will be digested more slowly than the Hydrolysate. In addition, if we combine it with another macronutrient, such as a slowly absorbed carbohydrate, like oat flour, this gastric emptying is slowed down.

Training in the evening

If we train in the afternoon or already for our working hours mainly, at the last minute, we can contemplate several strategies, such as:

  • Have a milkshake as a pre-workout meal.
  • If it’s already quite late, either have a solid meal, or drink a shake that is a mixture of several protein sources, such as Whey Protein Isolate + Egg Albumin + Micellar Casein. We could accompany it with some source of carbohydrates (or leave the load for the next day) and/or fats (nuts…).

Of course, all these doses would fall within our daily protein requirement

Any time

On the other hand, we don’t necessarily have to incorporate the protein only when we train, in fact, as I believe and it is nothing else, we are talking about food.

Therefore, its use will also have a general purpose, being able to make a protein shake when we opt for this protein source at times when we either don’t feel like making a protein intake from solid food, or because it fits better into our daily eating pattern.

For example, you have the option of adding a protein shake to your breakfast, either mixed with water or milk depending on your goals, or even with yoghurt or cream cheese.

Type of protein according to composition

If we have seen the type of protein before, from the point of view of the absorption rate, it will now be the turn to see its composition, both at the level of macronutrients (proteins, fats and Digestive enzymes, to promote absorption and digestion, such carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Protein shakes usually have a low amount of fat and carbohydrates, and of course the higher protein ratio.

If we choose weight winners or gainers, the ratio is usually divided in 3 to 1, or 4 to 1, i.e. 3 or 4 parts of carbohydrates to 1 part of protein.

For our case, we do not consider this type of products, we are only seeing protein shakes, where the presence of other macros other than protein is because they are implicit in the raw material, and not like the other types of products to which they are added accordingly for another purpose
If we therefore refer to protein products, they must include a number of “extra” elements, such as:
  • Digestive enzymes, to promote absorption and digestion, such as Digezyme®
  • Probiotics to improve intestinal flora
  • Colostrum to strengthen the immune system. Learn more about this product in the link.

Intolerant to lactose

Lactose intolerant people may resort to protein shakes whose source is non-dairy, such as those from plant, meat or egg origin.

As long as this nutrient is avoided in manufacturing processes (cross-contamination), as can happen with gluten

Despite this obvious fact, in products that are of milk origin, we can find some where someone with this pathology takes it and does not cause any discomfort, because their contribution of lactose (milk gluccid) is minimal. This will normally be found in serum isolation or hydrolysed (Optipep-90)

Protein mix

In some cases we can also find products that are themselves a mixture of several, such as

  • Mix of Isolated and Concentrated Whey, which seek to increase the percentage of protein, and improve the taste
  • A mixture of more than 3 or 4 different protein sources, which seek to provoke a progressive absorption of amino acids, which can last up to several hours, and therefore, interesting from the point of nitrogen balance

No Sweetener or Natural Sweetener

It also offers the possibility to acquire the protein supplement without flavour. In this case, after tasting the protein, you will have the feeling of a slight dairy flavour. This option serves those people who do not want to add any type of excipient (the sweetener in this case) and buy the purest possible protein.

For those, who do seek a protein of flavour, but at the same time want a natural sweetener, there is the protein with stevia.

As you can see, the offer is wide, and aimed at most people. Just stop and check which one we’re interested in, and of course, keep in mind the last point we’ll see next

Budget

If our goal is to lose weight (fat…), obviously we will be interested in a product which is the “cleanest” and gives us the highest concentration of proteins.

The type of Whey Isolate protein will maintain the least presence of carbohydrates and fats (or even traces), and in turn higher percentage of proteins. Here these characteristics have a price, therefore, it will be the criterion to be highlighted, our budget.

Similarly, if we want a more “unusual” product, such as a hydrolysate, which provides certain properties unlike other proteins, it will also mean having to pay a little more

Buy a Whey Concentrate

The reasons that can move us to one product or another taking into account the economic factor would be:

  • If we demand a type of product of “more performance“, understanding this as that it provides more protein, is more free of carbohydrates and fats, we will have to disburse more money, but nevertheless, for our requirements a Whey Concentrate if it fits perfectly.
  • If we are constant with training, and meticulous with our food, for the value we pay for the most expensive product, it is well worth it.
  • We have been training for 3 months… because possibly wwith a protein concentrate causes the same effect as an Isolated… For people with more experience, and therefore able to perform more demanding workouts, apply more intensity, higher training volume…, you may choose a type of Hydrolyzed protein that is quite feasible for you.

Conclusions

Some may have bad experience with a type of protein from some manufacturer, where just by taking 1 shake he could already see “in his meats” that it was not the right one for him, either because of bad taste, texture, dissolution, or that he was sprinting down the corridor to get to the toilet…

Usually this does not happen. But if it happens, we could understand that he was lactose intolerant, and bought a Concentrate, or because the chocolate flavour was not what he expected, being an Isolated (less amount of sugar, sweetener…) where what is rewarded are the characteristics of the product, and not so much its taste…

The protein market is quite complex. As we have seen, there is a great variety of options, but according to the established criteria, we can find the protein that best suits our objectives and circumstances, and therefore be the Best Protein for us

What is the best protein if you are looking for…

What is the best protein if you are looking for

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About Javier Colomer
Javier Colomer
Under the motto “Knowledge Makes me Stronger”, Javier Colomer clearly expresses his intentions to share his knowledge and experience within the world of Fitness. His BPT training system is proof of this.
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