I get a lot of emails and Facebook messages about health and fitness and from time to time I like to highlight one and create a blog post. This question came in last week (sorry for delay Bill but I’ve been slammed with the launch of www.ProjectShredded.com) and it’s one that I’ve heard a lot so I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys.
“Mike, what is the best type of protein to take?” – Bill Reed from Portland, OR
The best type of protein to take will depend on a variety of factors. The two things that remain constant regardless of the type or protein are the quality & purity and the “other ingredients”. The supplement industry is unregulated and there are thousands of companies trying to cash in on this multi Billion-dollar industry. It is important that you find a brand that is 3rd party verified. There are independent companies that will check the supplements to verify that what is stated on the label are actually in the product via lab testing. The main ones are USP, NSF and GMP. Look for those initials on the label to ensure you are getting what you are paying for. Having these labels, however, does not indicate the supplement is safe or healthy. It merely means that the product is what it says it is.
That’s where the “other ingredients” comes in. Protein powder, by itself, doesn’t taste good. So companies add all kinds of things to make it taste good so you will buy it. Things to watch for on the labels that are commonly in protein powders are: sucralose, acelfame potassium, aspartame, artificial flavors, and any coloring like Red#40 or Yellow #5…. just to name a few. These toxic ingredients make the drink taste good at the expense of your health. These have all been shown to cause various issues in humans from ADHD to Cancer. If any of these ingredients are on your label throw it out.
Once you ensure the protein is 3rd party verified and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients the next thing you need to think about is the type of protein powder. There are a lot of different kinds but the most common are:
Whey Concentrate – When you see the term “whey protein” it is usually referring to whey concentrate. Whey protein comes from cows and for those who do not have issues digesting dairy whey is a great choice. It has a high bioavailability, meaning that your body can utilize a high % of the protein you ingest. Look for whey protein from grass fed cows and cows they are not given antibiotics and hormones. Whey protein has all the essential amino acids. Life Time Fitness makes a great grass fed whey protein.
Whey Isolate – Whey Isolate, also comes from cows, contains a higher content of pure protein than whey concentrate. It is pure enough to be virtually lactose free, fat free, carb free, and cholesterol free. This is the best form of protein to take after your workout. The higher % of protein and the purer protein will get to your muscles quickest and absorbed better. NOW Foods is a good brand and their Whey Isolate is a good choice.
Casein – Casein protein has an interesting property where it tends to clump or gel in your stomach and digests much slower than other proteins which gives your body a steady stream of amino acids lasting for several hours. This is your best option before bed because of its long lasting benefits.
Blends – Some companies blend proteins together for their various benefits. They make a great meal replacement shake at anytime of the day. BioTrust makes a great low carb protein blend.
Vegan – For those of you who do not digest dairy well, or have ethical issues with dairy there are many vegan options for protein powders. Most vegan powders are a blend of 2 or more different plant proteins because very few plants are “complete proteins” meaning they have all the essential amino acids. If you mix different plant proteins together you can get all of them. I take a pea/rice blend called VeganMax that is awesome. Some common plant proteins include pea, rice, and hemp.
So to sum it up, the type of protein you take is dependent on the time of day and if you have any digestive issues. But the number one thing to be concerned about is the quality and purity of the protein. Typically, you get what you pay for and proteins that use cheap chemicals to make them taste good are usually less expensive than natural proteins.
If you have any health and fitness related questions feel free to email Mike@iPersonalTrainOnline.com.