Finding the right protein powder that works best for you can be a bit tricky. Most of what’s out there is whey protein, but there are a few notable alternatives if you haven’t had any luck with whey protein.
Each type of protein powder comes from a different source, but that is not the only difference they share. Not all protein is created equally, and there are some forms of protein that have all of your amino acids, while others are a vegetable protein. There are all differences in how fast the protein is absorbed by the body, an important consideration if you’re trying to build muscle.
If your goal is to hold yourself over until your next meal, or simply supplement your diet with extra protein because you’re a vegetarian or vegan, the type of protein powder you choose changes from someone looking to use it to repair their muscles due to a strenuous workout.
1. Whey Protein
Whey protein is by far the most popular protein powder on the market, but does that mean that it’s the best? Let’s look at some of its features to see why it overshadows any other contender.
Whey protein is favored for how fast it gets into your system, and how quickly it is absorbed by your muscles and other tissues. For this reason, it can be used strategically before, during, or after a workout to provide your body with what it is needing in any given moment.
It’s also a high concentration of protein. You’re getting more grams of protein per serving than other protein options, hence more bang for your buck. It’s also one of the less expensive protein options available, which only leads to more purchases. You’ll also find many recipes that use whey protein in them for added protein.
Good for you if: You have no issues with using animal byproducts, if you tolerate dairy well, and if you want a time-tested and proven winner.
2. Soy Protein
Soy protein comes from soybeans, and is a different type of protein than the ubiquitous whey protein. Even though it comes from a plant, it is still looked at as a high quality protein for those looking to build muscle.
For those simply looking for added benefits, soy protein can help bring down your cholesterol levels, and can help your cardiovascular system over time. It also contains amino acids which the body needs, and many amino acids it can’t make by itself.
While soy protein may not be the most popular protein powder, it’s nevertheless proven effective when used consistently. It can play a part in an overall healthy lifestyle, especially one that doesn’t include meat sources for a daily protein boost.
Good for you if: You want a vegetarian source of protein or have found that you don’t tolerate whey protein very well. Also if you want something to curb your appetite between meals.
3. Hemp Protein
Not only is hemp seed a good source of protein, you’re also getting a complete protein with this. It contains all of your essential amino acids. Whether or not you’re trying to put on lean muscle, this may be a good addition to a healthy diet, giving you energy and providing your body with the building blocks it needs to be its best.
The protein in hemp is easier to digest than other types of protein, which is why it’s has experienced a surge in use, and is a suitable alternative to whey protein if you’ve determined that you don’t process it well.
Despite the fact that hemp protein is derived from the same plant that produces marijuana, you won’t experience any psychedelic side effects from using it, and it’s completely legal in all 50 states.
Good for you if: You are looking for a vegan source of protein and are seeking out a naturally complete protein without the need for added substances to make it complete.
4. Casein Protein
Compared to whey protein, casein protein is virtually unknown when it comes to mainstream consciousness of protein powders. It has a few features that make it different from whey protein, and it is often recommended to use both whey and casein powders because of the way they complement each other.
One feature of casein protein is that it shares a similar make up with breast milk, so some find that it is easier to digest. It also a natural source of amino acids, much the same way that whey protein is.
While whey protein is quickly absorbed and put to use by the body, casein is naturally broken down slowly, so your body can use it for a longer time period.
Good for you if: You want a slow-acting protein supply and don’t mind that it is derived from an animal. Also, if you don’t mind that you won’t be getting as much protein ounce for ounce as you do with whey protein.
5. Rice Protein
As you might suspect, rice protein is derived from rice, and is the same type of protein you’ll get from drinking rice milk. It can be used by those looking to avoid meat and other animal byproducts but still keep their protein level up.
You’ll find a good assortment of rice protein powders in various flavors, including the basics like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. You may even find that these taste better than whey protein powders, but in regards to the amount of protein, and the way that protein is used by the body, whey protein comes out on top.
It’s free of gluten, so it can be a great way to get your protein level up if you’re following a gluten-free diet. It’s also free of other substances that can cause problems for those with a sensitivity to them, such as dairy and soy.
Good for you if: You digest rice and rice products well and don’t want to use a product that is derived from whey or other animal sources.
6. Egg White Protein
There’s more protein in the egg white than there is in the yolk, but they’re both a pretty good source of protein. However, when you concentrate the egg white and put it in powdered form, you are getting far more protein than just eating egg whites.
If you’re looking for a protein supplement that won’t make you gain weight, egg white protein may be the way to go. Because it is the egg whites and not the yolks, you’re getting all of the protein while avoiding the fat and carbohydrates.
Egg white protein is good for those that don’t mind using animal byproducts and want to get a high quality protein without affecting the rest of their dietary numbers for the day.
Good for you if: You want to avoid using dairy or have trouble digesting lactose, and want a protein powder that has plenty of protein but not a lot of fat or carbohydrates.
The Best: Whey Protein for effectiveness and price.