Readymade protein powders that easily blend into a shake are the new go to for anyone trying to be physically fit. Whether you keep yourself active through sports, are a weight watcher, just walk regularly or indulge in mild or even heavy exercise; Protein powders are there for all of you.
Completing the daily protein requirement through whole food (ie dietary protein) is a tough task for which most of us do not have ample time. With minimal effort, these protein powders help meet the daily protein goals and gain lean muscle.
Note: All information cited in this article has been taken from reputed science journals and accredited websites. So, you can choose the BEST Protein Powder for Yourself! We have included both plant and animal based protein powders that are often used in supplements today.
GLOSSARY (to help you easily go through) :
a)Biological Value is an important value for proteins since it determines how much of the protein ingested, could be used up by the body in the formation of tissues.
b) PDCAA (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid score) is a standard method set by scientists to determine the nutritional value of protein. It takes into consideration the essential amino acid composition and its digestibility.
Animal based Protein Powders:
The source of this protein supplement is ‘milk’. It is interesting to know that the separated liquid (called ‘whey’) which flows down our drains whenever we make paneer at home is used to manufacture a high quality protein supplement!
Some quick facts:
- Among the proteins widely used as supplements this one is the fastest to be digested and easiest to be absorbed into the blood stream.
- Owing to its fast absorption rate it is an ideal supplement for muscle recovery after a rigorous workout.
- It is a complete protein having all 9 essential A.A in it while most of the time it is fortified with the much needed BCAAs too, to make it an ideal supplement for muscle gain.
- Its PDCAA score is 1 which is the ideal value. Moreover, the Biological Value for Whey protein is 104 which is higher than other good quality proteins.
- It also contains vitamins and minerals.
- It is recognised for its use in sports nutrition.
- Mostly used forms are the concentrate and isolate forms of whey protein.
- The concentrate from of whey protein contains 70-80% protein content. The protein content goes way up higher to 90% in the isolate form since it gets highly processed and importantly lactose gets removed as well as fat, making the protein content richer.
This is another effective protein that is also obtained from milk. The curdled portion of milk after whey separates out is majorly casein! It exists in milk in the form of a micelle. Of course it is dried and processed make a casein supplement.
Some quick facts:
- Similar to Whey, ‘Casein’ is a‘complete’ protein containing all the essential amino acids while being rich in calcium and phosphorus too.
- Casein takes time to digest and absorbed in our body. But with respect to its utilisation for muscle gain and increase in strength it is not at par with Whey. This study supports this fact.
- Casein is known to slowly but continuously provide amino acids in our body for many hours. So, apart from helping in muscle growth and recovery it also keeps us full for longer durations.
- As soon as we ingest casein it encounters the acidic environment of the stomach and forms a colloidal particle, which takes time to digest. This protein help in slow and sustained release of nutrients in our body.
- It is important to note than any protein blend which contains a combination of proteins and has casein in it too, will digest slowly lowering your post workout recovery process.
- This one is best to be used at bed time or before a fast. It can also be a good option when you are going in for meal replacement if you are in the process of loosing weight.
- Its PDCAA score is also 1. This indicates it is a good quality protein.
EGG WHITE Protein (albumen)
This protein powders is made from egg whites. You can expect this one to be free from fat and cholesterol that is found in whole eggs; since the yolk has been separated out.
Some quick facts:
- It is also in the list of ‘complete proteins’. It has all essential amino acids our body needs.
- It contains abundant amounts of BCAAs ie (leucine, iso leucine and valine) which aid in muscle development and growth.
- Being a lactose free option it can be used by those who are allergic to dairy.
- It will helps gaining muscular strength.
- Its digestion and absorption rate is only a little lower than that of Whey. So, it may not be an ideal supplement like whey but of course it is a perfect option for those who are allergic to dairy products.
- Egg protein is much better digested and utilised by the body when it is compared to plant proteins. Its PDCAA score is 1 and it has a Biological value equal to 100.
- It can be used by athletes, by those who undergo strength training to gain fat free mass or just anyone who wants to shed extra kilos.
- It is often combined with other protein powders to give you more benefits. Although, you must know that even if it is used in combination the digestion rate of the supplement will become slow (in comparison to Whey). So, it is best to be taken at bed time.
- This can also be used as a meal replacement shake or it can be added to your meals to make them protein rich when you are trying to loose weight or just struggling to maintain your current weight!
Plant Protein Powders:
Soy protein is derived from dehydrated soya beans; leaving fibre, oil and just extracting crude protein from it. The fine powder obtained is rich in amino acids and is a complete protein.
Some quick facts:
- It is a complete protein so it contains all essential amino acids in it.
- Good amount of BCAAs are present in it. Contains vitamin D as well as vit B12.
- Its PDCAA score is 0.9. This indicates that it is a good quality protein but still it will not be as effectively utilised by the body as Whey, casein or egg protein (owing to a lower BV)
- 100% vegan friendly. Fit for vegetarians as well as vegans
- Lactose free and is easy to digest.
- It is easy to digest and is often used in bars, cereals etc
- It is available in concentrate and isolate forms. As you might expect, the isolate form of soy protein will contain upto 90% protein avaialability whereas a little lower from a concentrate form. The isolate form has very less in carbs, dietary fiber as well as vitamins.
- Since soy, is known to boost estrogen levels. It is good for women while men should take it in a controlled manner only, when looking for muscle gains.
- A recent study tells us that soy protein provides the same effect w.r.t muscle gain as animal proteins.
Pea protein powder is obtained from organic yellow peas. This is enough to know that it is purely vegan friendly lest no unwanted additions have been made to your supplement.
Some quick facts:
- Pea protein is a good quality protein but not a complete protein (with respect to % of each essential A.A) like soy or whey.
- It is rich in BCAAs but it is low in methionine. This amino acid can be easily supplemented with adding foods like soya bean, rice and many nuts.
- Pea Protein concentrate has a decent PDCAA score equating to 0.89. It is not equivalent to Whey or other proteins with PDCAAs equal to 1 but it is nevertheless a good easy digesting plant protein. . It does help in gaining muscle when it is used along with an exercise regimen.
- The best attribute of pea protein is that it is light on your digestive system as compared to other plant based proteins. It digests and gets absorbed in the system quite easily.
- It has a diverse profile of amino acids. Although the essential amino acids found in it are lesser in amount than those to be found in whey or casein. This can be a good alternative for anyone who cannot or does not want to consume dairy products as well as for those who are allergic to soy.
- It is best to combine pea protein with one or more plant based proteins (to balance the amino acid profile) and keep it within the confines of a vegan diet.
Editor’s Note: For the best plant based supplement options that you can take to boost your protein intake you may read Best Vegan Protein Powders in India.
This protein is extracted from organic brown rice to provide a very low carb, vegan friendly protein powder.
- It does not have a complete amino acid profile, but a good amount of essential amino acids while being low in lysine. It provides us with vitamins and minerals also.
- The protein content in brown rice is around 80%; which almost at par with peas.
- Rice protein can be substituted for whey protein, for a vegan person or for those who are allergic to dairy products. Research suggests that rice protein isolate has found to aid in muscle recovery, lean muscle growth and strength.
- Being gluten free, lactose free. It can be easily used by people who have allergies to these.
- It is best to use it in combination with some plant based protein like pea protein to reap maximum benefits. Rice and pea protein supplement each other in completing the amino acid profile needed by our body for muscle growth and development.
- Nevertheless you may often find find plant based protein powders containing a combination of pea and brown rice protein. 🙂 (add link to plant protein supplements)
- Rice protein can be used alone or in a combination to gain lean muscle and loose fat.
Hemp is a plant that provides useful fibre as well edible seeds. The seeds are the source of this protein supplement.
Some quick facts:
- ‘Hemp’ falls in the category of one of the plant sources that provide ‘Complete protein’. Yes, it contains all essential Amino Acids.
- The PDCAA score for this is 0.62 which is way less than 1 which is the ideal value The Biological value is 87. It is on the lower side of providing protein per serving (after taking the same serving size for comparison) among all protein supplements that we have discussed above.
- You would wonder why at all is hemp being used to make a protein supplement? Its because it is rich in other nutrients as well. Apart from providing a clean protein source it also is rich in omega fatty acids that are important for reducing inflammation in our body.
- It also contains fiber that will aid in having healthy digestion process.
- It may not be the best option, when it comes to the goal of putting on lean muscle for people who workout regularly. It can be incorporated into anyone’s diet who is looking forward to holistic health and not jus a protein boost.
- It is moderate in the protein content when compared to its plant based counterparts, but rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats and fiber. Thus, it is a popular supplement which is often added in diet.
It is a grain, which is also a good source of plant protein. It is native to south America and is also grown on a commercial scale in U.S.A and Europe. Quinoa is now available globally.
Some quick facts:
- This is again one of the few plant protein that contains all essential amino acids. So it can be called a complete protein.
- The protein content is not very high per serving. It may range from 10 to 17% depending upon the type and quality of the grain.
- Most plants are low or completely lack the amino acid ‘Lysine’ which is found in Quinoa. This makes it a better promoter of muscle growth and strength.
- Quinoa protein has high Biological Value (equal to 84) when compared to other plant proteins. While the PDCAA score is on the lower side being 0.60.
- It is gluten free, high in dietary fiber and rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Overall, it is a win win situation to add quinoa in diet.
- Plant protein supplements often have quinoa protein added in it since it brings in a good amount of Lysine along with other needed Amino Acids. It also has good amount of manganese, magnesium, iron and much more.
- Whenever quinoa is on the ingredient list of your protein supplement; it will do nothing but good to your system. It makes your supplement fortified with essential Amino acids, Vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, the fiber content may make your protein shake a little slow to digest but the nutrition would be worth it! ( its addition in limited amounts will be fine)
CHIA Seeds Protein:
As we can know from the name , these are also tiny seeds which provide protein and are often used as an addition in meals or in supplements too.
Some quick Facts:
- Like Hemp seeds; these also contain ‘all essential Amino Acids‘.
- Although the protein content may not be that high per serving. They contain 16% protein.
- When consumed in whole they are a good addition to diet since apart from providing some good quality protein, they also bring in much needed fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and many minerals like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, copper and selenium.
- If you find chia seeds in the ingredient list of your plant based supplement be sure that it is bringing in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. It may not be ideal for a post workout since the fiber in it may delay the digestion a little but it is always good to have in your daily meals for holistic nutrition.
Which is the BEST???? “Whey Protein stands out among all others” 🙂
Even when we compare Whey protein to other competing good quality proteins like casein and soy we find :-
- With respect to gaining lean muscle mass, whey protein is better than soy says conclusive research.
- Faster muscle recovery is reported in case of whey protein as opposed to casein protein. This is because whey gets rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and becomes available to our body for use. Although, casein also supports muscle recovery but at a slower pace.
NOTE: The efficacy of Whey protein is supported by protein assessments done in labs. Its Biological Value is 104 which is the highest among all good quality proteins like casein, egg whites, soy, peanuts, beef etc. Another even more accurate scale of measuring protein’s quality is PDCAA score, where WHEY gets the value 1 (which is true only for good quality proteins).
**Undoubtedly, Whey protein has been recognised as the BEST post-workout supplement so far.**