Understanding the different types of protein supplements on the market

Chris EskinChris Eskin Member, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

What is going on AFS Fam!  

Now, we all know that supplements; such as protein bars and powders, pre-workout powders, and vitamins are such a hot topic of discussion in the fitness community. Today, I wanted to give you all a short rundown of the different types of protein that are out there so you can make the best decision when looking to invest in a protein powder

*DISCLAIMER: This is not medical advice, just information to help you navigate the vast walls and pages of supplement stores and websites. The goal should always be to source your nutrition from whole food sources*

Where does whey protein come from?

-Whey protein is the liquid product of milk during cheese production. There are actually 2 forms of protein in this liquid product; Casein (80% of mixture) and Whey (20% of mixture). It is then separated, which gives us the whey protein that we all know.  

-There are 2 different types of protein commonly found on store shelves and website pages; Whey Protein Isolate, and Whey Protein Concentrate (or Whey Protein Blend).  

What to look out for when choosing a protein source

-As with any sort of supplement, it is processed down into the forms in which we are able to consume. Trust me when I say that everything we eat is somewhat processed (we cook our meat, steam our veggies, boil our rice...these are all ways of processing these foods). Now, the important thing to note is how the protein supplement is processed.

-You want to find one that is cold temperature processed and a cross-Flow micro-filtrated to ensure the least amount of denaturing (or change) done to the protein strands. 

-To save money, companies will often process their whey protein supplement with high heats or chemicals to produce the "same" product. This leads to a cheaper, but less superior protein supplement (hence why you can by like 100lb bag for like $30.00. As Mama always said, buy it nice or buy it twice) as the protein source itself becomes so denatured, the protein supplement's bio-availability is severely compromised (how much protein the body is able to actually utilize).

-Most companies will let you know if it is cold-temperature processed or cross flow micro-filtrated processed on the label or on their website.

Now, time to talk about the different types of proteins!

Whey Protein Isolate

-This type of protein is processed a bit more than whey protein concentrate. It is often broken down, or hydrolyzed, so smaller particles, which leads to this product being able to be absorbed and utilized at a faster rate.

-Due to the extra processing, there is a lot more protein and less carbs/fats per serving (roughly 90% protein, 10% carbs/fats)

-This product is often lactose free, again due to the extra processing done the product

-is a bit more pricey than a whey concentrate

Whey Protein Concentrate

-This type of protein is processed a little less than Whey protein isolate.

-Due to the amount of processing this type of protein powder goes through, it has a less protein and more carbs/fats per serving than an Isolate (roughly 80% protein, 20% carbs/fats).

-Often done in a blend of isolate and concentrate

-is a little less expensive than a Whey Isolate

But what about plant based proteins?

-That is a great question. The way that I view vegan proteins (such as pea and hemp proteins) is the same way I view whey protein concentrates. This is a less processed product that has a higher amounts of carbs/fats and lower amount of protein than a whey protein isolate.  

Which one is better?

-IT DEPENDS! ahh, the golden saying of fitness. My biggest recommendation is to look into how the product is processed. Find one that is low temperature processed so you know you are getting the most out of your protein supplement.  

-a side note, if you do have an issue with lactose, there is no question that a isolate or plant based protein would be a better selection than a concentrate.

So, next time you go shopping for a protein powder, you will know what you are looking at and what you should be looking for!


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