Just beginning your fitness journey and don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you just want to know a little bit more about proteins. It can be overwhelming when there’s so many types and brands on offer! Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Here’s your quickstart guide to the most common protein powder options, to help you make the right choice.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
A WPI is the most fast-acting protein of the milk-based proteins. As such, many people love to have it straight after their training, to refuel the muscles as quickly as possible. Due to a double microfiltration process, it contains almost no fat or carbohydrates, and thus is extremely high in protein. In terms of texture and consistency, it tends to be more watery than the others, so if you prefer a thicker blend, you may go for a different choice (you can also add less water or milk!). If you have sensitivities to lactose but you still want the benefits of a milk-based protein, then a WPI will be your best bet as it's generally kindest to the gut. R1 Protein by Rule 1 Proteins is an example of a WPI with Whey Protein Hydrolysate (which is pre-digested), for fast and easy absorption
Whey Protein Blends
Milk-based proteins are considered high quality as they contain all the necessary amino acids for muscle repair and recovery. A lot of the proteins you’ll see are a Whey Protein Blend, so they contain at least two types of milk-based protein. These blends are based from Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), a medium digesting protein that is microfiltered once, in addition to other proteins. For example, the Gold Standard 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition is a very popular choice amongst gym-goers, containing WPI, WPC, and whey peptides.
Casein is thought of as your ‘night-time’ protein, taken before bed or as your evening snack. This doesn’t mean you can’t have it any other time of day, it just means that it’s most commonly suited for pre-bed due to it’s effects on the body. Casein digests the most slowly out of these mentioned, so it’s suited for those looking to prevent muscle loss during long periods of inactivity (like sleeping). You’ll also love it if you suffer from nighttime hunger pangs and want to enjoy a guilt-free protein top up! Due to it’s unique properties, it makes an excellent custard, such as found in the new Lean Dessert by Genetix.
When we refer to ‘Natural Protein’, it generally means dairy-free or completely plant-based, though you can also find naturally-sweetened or unflavoured whey proteins under this category. There are many types of protein you'll find here, such as soy, pea, rice, peanut, hemp, egg and even beef! Let’s look at some of the more common types you’ll find below:
Plant-based protein has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with more and more options flooding the market! Thanks to a rise in vegan-friendly eating, many people are now looking for a protein solution that contains no animal products. Most plant-based proteins you’ll find have pea and rice protein as their source. This gives you a wider amino acid profile than just having one or the other. As plant-proteins continue to advance, some have added different ingredients to give even more benefits to you.
Some now include ingredients like sacha inchi, hemp, fava bean, ancient grains and other plant-based extracts - check out the ingredient panel in Ultimate Plant Protein by b Raw as an awesome example! These proteins also tend to be higher in fibre, a great option if you’re currently living a low-fibre lifestyle.
Collagen is the primary structural protein in your body, that gives strength to your connective tissues. It has a different amino acid profile in comparison to other proteins. Collagen is abundant in glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, the amino acids that are necessary for the construction of collagen. Collagen peptides are excellent if you're looking for a hypoallergenic solution, as it is digests very easily. It's also very popular with those looking to maintain skin and joint health. If you find it hard to digest plant-based or whey proteins, then collagen may best suit you. Vegans take note – collagen protein is not for you! It is usually based from bovine, as in NoWay HCP Protein by ATP Science.
Whether you're looking for a whey protein, a vegan protein, or another alternative, there are tons of options available for you. If you're feeling unsure, know that your local store is always happy to have a chat about what you're looking for, and point you in the right direction. We are also available via our customer service and on social media, so feel free to reach out! Your journey to greater fitness and health is important, and we want to make sure you get there in the most efficient way possible. By understanding the differences between the most common protein types, you'll be able to make a more informed decision, and then you can get to the most exciting part - choosing your flavour!