Did you know your brain cells, skin, hair and nails are a few of our body parts that are protein-based? Good protein intake is essential for maintaining and repairing cells and muscles, weight management, hormone production, transporting nutrients, optimal energy levels and a strong immune system.
Our body can’t store amino acids – the building blocks of protein – so we need to regularly supply it with protein. If you don’t get a lot of protein from your daily food intake, protein powder may be a good choice to maintain optimal levels. It’s fast, convenient and can be enjoyed on the run. With such a broad range in store, you can help you choose the right one for you – whether it’s for:
- Pregnancy support
- Breastfeeding mums
- Maintaining lean muscles in adults
- Athlete support
- Weight management
- Children’s health – getting more into their diet
- Specific dietary needs
- Recovery from illness
Here are some of the most common protein powders:
Best for: fast absorption post-workout
Whey protein is derived from milk and is found in the liquid produced from making cheese. It’s popular as a dietary supplement immediately after a workout because it’s fast absorbing and quickly helps the body build and repair muscle. Two common types of whey protein you’ll find are whey concentrate and whey isolate. Concentrate is typically 70-85% pure protein (the rest being fat and carbohydrates) and isolate is up to 95% pure protein.
Opt for a plant-based protein if you’re lactose intolerant as whey may upset your stomach.
Best for: slow release, particularly if you’re doing cardio
Similar to whey protein, casein is derived from milk and available in concentrate and isolate forms. Casein is absorbed slower than whey and can take up to 6 hours to fully digest. The steady release of protein helps prevent the breakdown of muscles, which makes it a good choice if you’re doing lots of cardio to lose weight, but don’t want to lose muscle. It’s also a popular supplement before bed for a sustained release of protein and nutrients while you sleep.
Opt for a plant-based protein if you’re lactose intolerant as casein may upset your stomach.
Gluten Free, Vegan
Best for: vegans and lactose-intolerant
Soy protein is derived from soybeans, and is a good source of protein if you’re vegan, vegetarian or lactose intolerant. Soybeans are one of the very few sources of plant-based protein that provides all the essential amino acids the body requires. It supports healthy cholesterol levels due to its isoflavones, aids in recovery and supports a healthy metabolism.
Gluten Free, Vegan, Easy to Digest
Best for: sensitive stomachs
Another good protein source for vegans, vegetarians and if you’re lactose intolerant. Pea protein is derived from yellow split peas that are high in fibre and contain all essential amino acids except for one, which can be added from other plant-based sources, such as brown rice protein. It’s absorbed faster than casein, but slower than whey if you’re looking for a balanced approach. Being highly digestible and free of allergens makes it a good choice if you have a sensitive stomach.
Gluten Free, Vegan
Best for: plenty of nutrients
Now that edible hemp has been legalised, we can enjoy hemp protein! Although its protein is less than other plant protein sources, it has the added benefits of fibre, omega-3s and is packed with minerals.
Last but not least…
When purchasing a protein powder, check whether added ingredients contain gluten, dairy or other allergens. Typically protein powders come in a range of flavours, so chat to our friendly in-store Naturopath if you need help finding one to suit your needs.