Among the hundreds of protein powder options and the different types of protein — think whey, plant-based, isolate, and concentrate — choosing a protein powder can be daunting. Don’t worry, we are here to help you! Read on for details of some of the more common terms you’ll see when shopping for a protein powder and a quick list of our staff favorites.
Types of protein
whey: Most people can absorb this fast-digesting protein, so it’s ideal to consume right after a workout. It contains a wide range of essential amino acids, important for muscle growth and strength. Whey is a by-product of cheese and contains lactose (milk protein).
casein: Casein is a dairy-based protein, but it is a by-product of milk and not a by-product of cheese. Casein is digested slowly by the body, which makes it a great option for recovery after endurance-based exercise. If you are looking for a protein-rich meal replacement, casein may be a better option than whey because it is absorbed slower and will keep you full for longer periods of time.
an egg: Egg protein is a great alternative for those who may have a milk allergy or are unable to properly digest whey or casein. Egg protein contains leucine, micronutrients, and essential amino acids.
Collagen: Collagen is a protein responsible for the health of joints, nails, hair and skin elasticity. Existing collagen breaks down as you age and it becomes more difficult for your body to reproduce. Although not vegan, collagen proteins are a great choice for gluten and dairy-free diets. Collagen proteins are incomplete but great to pair with other protein powders.
vegetable proteins: These types of proteins are usually made from peas, brown rice, or hemp. Although whey, casein, and soybeans are all complete proteins, meaning they contain every essential amino acid, plant-based alternatives are not complete. Plant-based protein powders also tend to contain less protein per serving than dairy or soy-based powders.
Concentrates against isolates
Concentrates contain about 80% protein and 20% carbohydrates and fats. Concentrates are beneficial for general health because they contain other macronutrients and are usually less expensive than isolates.
Isolates contain 90%+ protein and are a good choice if you are restricting calories to lose weight. Isolated powders usually cost more due to additional processing and purity.