There are a variety of protein shakes available, so it is important to have a basic understanding of the difference between the various types. Some protein shakes are value for money, others are overpriced, and some are suitable for consumption throughout the day, while others are best suited to specific times.
The majority of protein shakes available to purchase are whey basedand there is a wide choice of brands and products to buy. With increased choice can come increase confusion, so let’s take a look at what you need to know about whey protein.
Whey protein is rapidly digested and is therefore best suited to times when you want a quick uptake of amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and muscle). Whey in water directly after training is a wise choice, as is its use first thing in the morning with breakfast.
What many users may find confusing is the difference between whey concentrate and whey isolate. In simple terms, whey concentrate is typically 75-80% protein and has a relatively low level of fat and carbohydrates. Whey isolate on the other hand contains a higher percentage of protein and has minimal quantities of lactose and fats.
Whey isolate is clearly the superior product, but it does come at a price. For the majority of users the extra price is not really justified in our opinion – whey concentrate is an ample choice for most. Isolate is particularly useful for those with an intolerance to lactose, or competitive bodybuilders coming up to a competition.
Many whey products will be a blend of isolate and concentrate.
20-40g of whey in water post workout is ideal.
Unlike whey protein, casein protein is slowly digested and is therefore better suited to times when a slower release of protein is desired, such as before bed or prior to a long shift in work.
Most brands have a casein protein product in a variety of flavours. Another option is unflavoured powder from one of the bulk supplements suppliers.
A similar product to casein is milk protein which is composed of 80% casein and 20% whey. Milk protein products are available, but many choose to buy the bulk powders and mix them themselves to use as a protein blend during the day.
The leading branded supplement companies are less likely to make these products, but they are available from the bulk suppliers. Pea protein is completely derived from vegetables and has a very good amino acid profile. Soya contains all ten essential amino acids and is free of lactose.
Many protein products contain a blend of proteins, typically whey mixed with a slower releasing protein such as casein or egg white powder. Blends are best for during the day when the varied uptake of protein is preferred.
Many meal replacement powders (MRP) and weight gainers contain a protein blend. The former tends to have a high quality blend, such as whey and casein close to equal measure. Weight gainers vary in quality, with the lower quality products containing whey and egg white powder in a ratio which is designed to be low cost to produce.