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Choosing the Best Protein Powder(s).

Choosing the best Protein

by Serious Supplements

Whey protein isolate (WPI), Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), Hydrolyzed Whey, Casein, Hydrolyzed Casein, Soy, Milk….the list goes on. There are so many different types, qualities, and brands of protein powders, it is no suprise people struggle to choose the right one.


So let's try to clear up some of the confusion....

Protein

Protein is the single most important nutrient to a bodybuilder. Research has demonstrated over and over again that in order for your body grow; you need large amounts amino acids (protein).

Most guys hit a plateau in their training begin pondering if they are doing enough reps with their tricep kickbacks, or some other irrelevant factor. PLEASE.

Go and hit between 200 and 400 grams of protein per day for a few months and lift sufficiently heavy weights frequently enough, and then come and see me and tell me if you're still trying to overcome that plateau.

In the car that is bodybuilding, training is your engine and food (protein) is the fuel.

How much Protein?

Bodybuilders / strength athletes should aim for around or over 1.5 g/lb protein per day (this is about 3.3 grams per kg). So for a 100kg bodybuilder, that's 330 grams of protein per day. You might baulk at this figure, but if you take half of this requirement a day in shakes, you should have no problems sourcing the rest from food.

I personally don't like to leave anything to chance... I would much rather take in too much protein and expel the excess than worry about taking in inadequate amounts of protein and losing out on muscle mass.

Protein Quality

When people in the industry talk about choosing a protein powder, protein quality is usually on the agenda. Protein quality can be measured by a number of different ways including:

Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER)

To go into each of theseis beyond the scope of this article; suffice it to say that they aren't as important as you might think when we are talking about choosing the recommended proteins in this article, while ramping our protein intake upwards of 300 – 400 grams per day.

What these indicators do demonstrate however, is that certain protein types are suited better to different applications.

Protein Categories

For the purposes of bodybuilding / power lifting there are only really four protein categories you should be worried about:

Whey

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein

So much has been written about this stuff so ill stick to some things you might not know...

Without doubt, the best protein for general bodybuilding purposes, whey protein has numerous benefits. It contains a host of beneficial growth factors, antibacterial peptides, probiotic bacteria, and immune-regulating factors. Whey is often used in studies of the immune system, cancer inhibition, healing of stomach andintestinal system, high blood pressure and bone density because of its unique properties.

Studies show that whey protein is most effective when taken before and after exercise. During training and in the hours after exercise increased protein intake contributes to protein synthesis - but also the dramatic decrease in protein degradation (this is good!).

 

Casein / Milk

Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein

Casein is dairy protein and accounts for almost 80% of all proteins found in cow's milk. It has a very rich pool of amino acids, almost identical to whey protein.

When ingested, casein forms a clot in the stomach which slows down the rate of gastric emptying, which affects the rate at which amino acids are absorbed into the blood stream. In other words, because of this clot, the casein takes longer to be digested in the stomach, which slows down the amount of amino acids being released into the small intestine where they are absorbed.

This makes casein the ideal protein supplement to take when going to bed, or when you know you will be going prolonged periods without the opportunity to refuel.

In some interesting science released recently; casein has shown to be the superior protein for those individuals on a diet, and the whey + casein combination has been shown to be more effective than whey alone post workout.

 

Soy

Soy protein is a complete protein that ranks right up there with the best in the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). Soy protein is generally very low in or free of fat, cholesterol, and lactose.

Soy protein is approved for those who are lactose intolerant, and can be used as a meat substitute.

Despite all of this, Serious Supplements generally recommend that people should steer clear of soy and soy protein formulas.

Concentrates, Isolates and Hydrolysates

Generally speaking protein powders are available in three primary forms; isolates, concentrates and hydrolysates.

Concentrates

Protein concentrates typically contain roughly 80% protein with 5-6% carbohydrate and fat while isolates may contain up to 90% protein.

Concentrates are the cheapest and most widely used of the protein powders. It has around 80-85% protein content in the raw material, but also some undesirable elements such as lactose and fat.

Isolates

Isolation is the result of a superior manufacturing process that removes most of the lactose and fat, thereby providing a final product with virtually pure protein as well as the significant growth and immune factors retained from the original milk. Isolates are the first choice for clinical and medical applications. Protein content is usually 90-93%, fat and carbohydrate content is in the range 0-1%, and the rest is moisture.

Isolation is the best protein source for those who want a high quality product to supplement their diet.

Hydrolysates

Optimum Nutrition Hydrolised Protein

Hydrolysates are simply isolates or concentrates which have been pre-digested (digestion of protein is called hydrolysis) by subjecting them to specific enzymes. Thegoal here being a protein which rapidly absorbed.

Practically speaking, you will typically pay the least for a protein concentrate, more for an isolate and the most for a protein hydrolysate. Because of the presence of free form amino acids in protein hydrolysates, they often have a morebitter taste than either concentrates or isolates.

 

Tying it all together

Practically speaking, unless you are lactose intolerant, any of the whey protein powders (+ casein) is the best choice for bodybuilders and power athletes.

Whether you choose WPI, WPC or hydrolysed whey will depend on your budget and protein intake requirements. Remember; strength/power athletes should aim for around or over 1.5 g/lb protein per day, this is about 3.3 g/kg (read: it will be very costly for a 100kg individual to try and top up his protein intake requirements with hydrolysed whey ONLY.)

The best strategy is to purchase a variety of types (it will cost more upfront, but you will save a bundle in the long run).

Recommended Stack:

Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Whey Protein – this will be used between meals or with meals to help you meet your protein intake requirements.

Gaspari Nutrition IntraPro OR Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey – this can be used immediately pre-workout and upon waking when you need your protein delivery fast.

Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion – This should be used before bed, postworkout, or if you know you won't have a chance to eat well on any given day.

Here is a hypothetical day for a 100kg individual who trains in the evening:

8am – Breakfast

1pm Lunch

3pm / Afternoon Tea - Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Whey Protein serving

30 – 45 min Pre Workout - Gaspari Nutrition IntraPro serving

6pm – Workout

30 mins Post Workout Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion serving

8pm - Dinner

Pre Bed - Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion serving

References: