You’re probably well aware that protein is essential for muscle growth and that building muscle helps burn fat. Therefore, getting a healthy amount of protein every day is a critical step towards maintaining a complete diet. Since there are several types of protein coming from various sources, it’s important to understand the differences in order to structure your diet accordingly. No need to worry, we’ve got the 411 for you on each one and we promise to keep it simple. No one protein is necessarily better than another, but, since they are different, you’ll want to tailor your meals and supplements based on your personal goals.
The most prominently displayed powder supplement at your local vitamin store, whey is beloved by the lifting community because it helps repair and rebuild muscles quickly after intense workouts. It is dairy-based, so it’s not an ideal option for the vegan or lactose intolerant. However, it’s not to be confused with casein protein, which also comes from milk. While both are great ways to build muscle, Whey protein is digested WAY faster—that’s why it’s a go-to post workout shake mix. It’s also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the amino acids necessary for building muscle.
Plant protein is a general label, but the most common sources are peas and soy. Other alternatives include brown rice, hemp, and vegan blends. Unlike whey, plant-based proteins are not considered complete as they contain fewer amino acids. Since they don’t come from animals, plant proteins are optimal for vegetarians and vegans. They’re also considered easier to digest and almost always cheaper than whey protein options, so it’s easier on your stomach and your wallet. While plant protein may have fewer amino acids, it’s usually cholesterol- and fat-free.
Another dairy-based protein, casein takes much longer for the body to process which allows for a slow release of protein. That means it’s a great idea to eat or drink casein protein before going to bed since you won’t be consuming anything for the duration of your sleep (hopefully at least seven hours). Casein protein will help build muscle while your body is resting. Cottage cheese is the most commonly recommended natural source, but casein powder supplements can serve as a tastier alternative that can be used in shakes.
Bonus tip: make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night! It’s an important part of building muscle, not to mention numerous other health benefits.
Balancing your diet is important to monitor your protein intake. Another way to ensure that you’re meeting the minimum protein intake is to use a nutrient-filled powder. WellPath offers a free online consultation to determine your unique formula of supplements and powder mix. Get started here.