Once Only Known By The Most Nutrition-Savvy Athletes
The Benefits of consuming a high-protein diet are now more widespread than ever. In recent years, athletes of all shapes and sizes from 300-pound power lifters to lightning-quick track & field competitors have become more in-tune with what this macronutrient can provide. Increased lean muscle, weight loss, immune support, sustained energy levels – with a list of potential benefits like this it’s no wonder why the popularity of protein has taken off. But with an article on whey in your favorite mag, a study touting casein on the internet, and your personal trainer swearing up and down that egg is the best, how are you supposed to know which one to choose? Or perhaps more importantly, which protein to use when, and why so here are the top ten proteins to consider when training.
One - Hydrolyzed Whey Peptides – If you’re looking for a fast-digesting source of protein, you can’t get any faster that hydrolyzed whey peptides. Partially broken down into shorter chains of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), whey peptides are absorbed and utilized by the body faster and more completely than any other protein. As a result, they’re ideal before and immediately following your training sessions when you need to foster an anabolic reaction and encourage maximum recovery.
Two – Three - Whey Protein Isolates – (Cross-Flow Micofiltered and Ion-Exchange) – Whey protein can be “isolated” through cross-flow microfiltration or ion-exchange processed to virtually eliminate the fat, cholesterol, lactose, and other undesirables to offer a high percentage (90% and up) of pure protein. When protein isolates are also loaded with important microfractions (e.g. lactalbumin, lactoferrin, and glycomaropeptides) that have been show to help regulate appetite and provide immune support. Because of these characteristics, these forms of whey are perfect first thing in the morning and throughout the day when you need to tame your hunger.
Four – Whey Protein Concentrate – Closer to whey’s native state, whey protein concentrate is a more economical option because there’s less processing and filtration involved. A large amount of the fat, cholesterol, and lactose can still be removed to yield concentrated whey powders up to 80% pure protein. Whey protein concentrate is an excellent source of the three branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine). BCAAs have been credited with protecting lean muscle during prolonged activity, delaying the onset of fatigue, and providing energy directly to muscle tissues.
Five – Glutamine Peptides – Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and accounts for 60% of the free amino acids in muscle tissue. Under normal circumstances, the body can meet its glutamine needs without supplementation, but under stressful conditions such as illness, injury, and intense exercise (you’re no stranger to this), the body’s demand may exceed its stores, making it important for hard-training athletes to consume sufficient amounts of this conditionally essential amino acid, especially during the post-workout window.
Six – Egg Albumen (Egg White Protein) – A staple of bodybuilders and strength training athletes across the globe, egg protein is rich in sulfur-containing amino acids (e.g. methionine, cystine) which help support healthy connective tissue – a definite plus for hard-training athletes who rely heavily on their joints. Thanks to modern processing techniques, you can get egg protein powders with a fraction of the lactose, fat, and cholesterol found in whole eggs, and just one scoop can provide 7 times more protein than an egg. Egg albumen is digested more slowly that whey, which makes it ideal for between meals and throughout the day when you’re seeking to support positive nitrogen (protein) balance.
Seven – Milk Protein Isolate – Made up of approximately 80% casein and 20% whey, milk proteins combine the benefits of both to offer intermediate absorption rates and a highly nutritious form of protein. Because of the nutritive value of milk proteins, they’re great as a meal replacement or an additional mini-meal or snack. And like whey protein isolates, milk protein isolate is 90% pure protein or better with minimal undesirables.
Eight – Milk Protein Concentrate – Like egg and whey, milk protein is also “complete” meaning it contains all eight of the EAAs required for muscle growth and maintenance. On top of that, concentrated milk powders maintain the native microfractions of milk and are also high in calcium so they offer nearly the same benefits as liquid form. Recent research has highlighted calcium’s ability to enhance fat metabolism and preserve thermogenesis (caloric expenditure). Because of its more filling consistency and moderate digestion rate, milk protein concentrate is also best utilized as a meal replacement of between meals.
Nine – Micellar Casein – Whereas hydrolyzed whey peptides are the fastest of the fast, micellar casein is the slowest of the slow. Because of its unique ability to form globules or “micelles” in the stomach, micellar casein delivers a steady stream of amino acids to the muscle over an extended period of time (it can take over seven hours for complete digestion). This makes it perfect for before bed and during other prolonged periods without eating to prevent your body from slipping into a catabolic state. These slow-digesting properties do more than prevent muscle breakdown, they also promote satiety (a feeling of fullness), which helps stave off hunger.
Ten – Calcium Caseinate – Another slowly absorbed protein, calcium caseinate packs exceptional amounts of EAAs and is rich in leucine. Leucine helps increase protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown to create the ultimate anabolic / anticatabolic environment. As the name implies, it’s also an excellent source of calcium. By combining a slow-digestion rate with high levels of calcium, calcium caseinate can play an integral part during a diet phase.
As you can see, there are many aspects of protein to take into consideration when planning out your nutrition and supplementation program. Whether it’s fast or slow, good for breakfast or before bed, the strong points of each should be weighed to decide which best fits your particular needs, however, the results these 10 proteins bring are amplified when used in conjunction. So rather than limiting yourself, try to work as many of these options into your regimen as possible and take your game to the next level.