Why Protein is Important
Protein is a macronutrient (the other two are fats and carbohydrates). The special property of protein is that it is made up of many different types of amino acids – amino acids are the building blocks of muscle! Thus, it is super important for athletes and those trying to alter their physiques to get enough protein in their diet and to eat the right types to ensure proper muscle growth and recovery.
What are the Main Types?
I know it may seem overwhelming looking at this long list of different protein types but I am going to briefly explain the pros and cons of each type of protein below. I am usually referring to the supplement products that contain this type of protein (example: with egg protein I’m referring to the egg protein powder supplements), but these guidelines apply to the actual source as well (example: eggs in general).
Here are the main types:
a) Whey Protein
Whey protein is the most hyped up protein supplement out there. This is because it is very fast release. It is especially effective right after a work out since it digests in the body very quickly and goes directly to feeding the muscle.
b) Casein Protein
Casein protein is the exact opposite of whey. It is a very slow-release protein. Because of this, casein is great for taking before bed. It will digest slowly, and feed your muscles gradually as you sleep, preventing the muscle tissue from breaking down.
c) Milk Protein
Milk protein is the “mother” of whey and casein – whey and casein both come from milk. Thus, milk protein contains both the qualities of casein and of whey. The overall effect is the casein slows the release of the whey protein, making a moderate-release protein. Milk protein is optimal for a meal replacement shake because it will keep you full and feed your muscles throughout the day.
d) Egg Protein
Egg protein is a very effective protein supplement for those who are lactose intolerant and cannot take the first three protein types I discussed. Eggs also have one of the best blends of amino acids out there.
e) Beef Protein
Beef protein is very high quality. A word of warning though – some new supplement companies have started to advertise a new “beef” protein powder. The quality of meat used in these powders are questionable, and the products themselves aren’t cheap. If you’re looking for beef protein you’d be better off cooking a steak.
f) Soy Protein
Soy protein is the most common vegetarian protein supplement. It has cancer-fighting effects and is very rich in a special type of amino acids called “branch chain amino acids” which are very important for muscle growth. However, soy can have estrogen-enhancing effects so it should be used sparingly with men. Just make sure soy is not your only protein source and it should be fine.
g) Buckwheat Protein
Buckwheat is another great source of protein that does not contain any animal products. It also contains a very high biological value. Studies also show it is great for heart health – it lowers cholesterol and body fat.
Where Should I Get My Protein?
Nutrition shops are sprouting all over the place nowadays. However, I’d advise people to check major online supplement shops first. You will usually find that online purchases of supplements are 40 – 50% less than when buying them in store. They also have a much wider selection of products so it is easier to find a supplement that will meet your needs. I can’t list off any specific sites, but they are fairly easy to find through a search engine.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, protein is essential for proper muscle maintenance and growth. Supplementing with protein is a personal choice, but should definitely be considered for those who are trying to lose weight and gain muscle.