Shopping for a protein powder was much easier years ago. It used to be you had to choose between whey, casein or soy. Whey and casein are still widely popular, but now you have to choose your type. Do you want a protein isolate or a concentrate? Would you like that hydrolyzed? Should you buy a pure product or is a blend the better choice? If you’re confused by all of the varieties, you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at the different forms, so that you can decide for yourself which would be best for you and your goals.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a complete, high-quality protein made from milk and has a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids, especially leucine. Whey is well-known for its fast absorption rate and for being easy to digest. That’s why it is often recommended for use immediately after exercise, as part of a post-workout recovery regimen.
What Is Casein Protein?
Casein, like whey, is a complete protein source that is derived from dairy. It’s known as a slower-digesting protein, which is why you’ll see it suggested before bed, or as part of a meal replacement shake. Despite differences in amino acid composition, over time (4-6 hours), both milk and casein appear to elevate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) equally as effective as whey.
Concentrate Or Isolate Proteins
Protein powders are sold as concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates. Concentrates and isolates are the two most common. The main difference between the two is that isolates have a slightly higher percentage of protein than concentrates, because the non-protein components have been removed.
Both protein isolates and protein concentrates can be partially broken down, or hydrolyzed, resulting in slighter faster absorption. Because of the increased concentration of protein, protein isolates and protein hydrolysates tend to be more expensive.
What About A Protein Blend?
Some protein powders incorporate both whey and casein into one blend. Blending these proteins together can help maintain a positive protein balance over a course of time. For example, when used with breakfast, the hydrolyzed whey protein within the blend can provide a rapid release of amino acids, helping to break the fast from not eating throughout the night hours, while the native micellar casein can supply ongoing support between meals or in the hours after eating. If you include your sustained protein blend in the middle of the day, that can support positive protein balance into the evening hours.
So, Which Type Of Protein Is Best?
The best choice for you, will depend on you. All types have strengths and can provide a benefit.
Consider your schedule, your personal goals and your purpose. Check out our suggested timeline based on whether you are a morning or an evening exerciser.