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Understanding Protein: How to pick a protein powder.

By Adam Galuszka
October 2, 2014

Protein is the body's building block for everything. Our muscles, skin, organs, hair and nails are all made from protein. Protein is a necessary component to making the immune system work, digestive processes function and blood flow. Protein is vital. Without it our bodies would begin to break down muscle in order to produce the protein it needs. When we eat, our body breaks down the protein in food to create amino acids. These amino acids are transported in the blood and brought to places in need inside our body. Unlike carbs and fats which our body can store, our body is not good at storing protein, this is why getting protein into your system after a workout is so important. Your body cannot pull from reserves. Here are some forms of protein explained: WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE: Whey protein comes from milk. In fact, milk is 20% whey and 80% casein (which we will talk about later). Most protein in protein supplements, bars and powders is whey. It’s one of the fastest absorbing proteins, which makes it great for post-workout recovery. When a protein can be easily absorbed it can get to the muscles faster, helping them build and repair. It also is known to enhance the immune system. Whey has higher levels of leucine, the amino acid responsible for protein synthesis (muscle repair). There are two types of Whey: Whey Concentrate: Whey concentrate is the least expensive form of protein. While not lactose-free it has a very low lactose level, which some people who are just mildly sensitive to dairy can seem to handle. It also contains small amounts of fat, as opposed to its nearly fat-free counterpart, whey isolate. Whey Isolate: Whey Isolate is the highest quality whey. It is virtually fat-free and lactose-free. However, some people may find they still get a bloated feeling from whey. Consistency wise whey isolate tends to have a thinner consistency (since it lacks fat), and taste better. Pure Whey Isolates, like the ones found in SFH products are made from organic cow’s milk that is hormone and dairy-free. It is important to look at the ingredients of the products when picking your protein. Some contain only whey concentrate, others only whey isolate, and some combine both. What they use will have an impact on you, and especially your gut. CASEIN PROTEIN (MILK PROTEIN): Casein protein makes up the other 80% of milk and is often referred to as Milk Protein. Taste wise casein and whey are very similar. The biggest difference between the two is that unlike whey protein which is broken down and absorbed quickly, casein is one of the slowest absorbing proteins. Casein takes 5-7 hours to fully break down in the body. Casein is absorbed slowly and steadily into the digestive system. For this reason one use of casein protein is to take a bit right before you go to bed. This keeps your body’s metabolism cranking, allowing you to absorb nutrients throughout the night. If you’re going to use casein throughout the day, you’ll find it will really help you stay full for a longer period time than other proteins as it provides a steady flow of protein to your muscles for hours on end. In a recent study it was found that casein intake results in a prolonged increase in blood amino acids, which results in far less protein breakdown of the muscle. CASEIN & WHEY: Casein and whey are better together. Many protein powders combine casein and whey to offer an ideal protein powder that can handle the body’s needs immediately after a workout as well as its needs through the day. The fast-digesting whey protein provides a burst of essential amino acids to the muscles, helping them begin to repair while the slower-digesting protein, casein, increases blood amino acids for a longer more sustained amount of time and lets the muscles grow and repair throughout the day. This is why chocolate milk is generally accepted as a great recovery option (plus the added sugar and caffeine).
  1. Clif Shot Recovery (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Concentrate)
  2. Osmo Recovery for Women (Whey Protein Isolate, Micellar Casein)
  3. Osmo Acte Recovery (Whey Protein Isolate, Micellar Casein)
PLANT-BASED PROTEINS: Soy, hemp, rice and pea proteins are just some of the plant-based proteins available. Soy and hemp protein are rich with amino acids, and they, as well as the others are often packed with glutamine, argine and isoflavones. Glutamine is great for joint health. Argine helps with blood flow, allowing nutrients to get rapidly to the muscles. Isoflavones are the biggest benefit of soy protein. They have strong antioxidant powers and can help with the transition through menopause. Plant-based proteins also help maintain healthy cholesterol and speed up metabolism. Many plant-based proteins have a strong taste and require sweeteners to mask. This either causes them to use artificial sweeteners or sugar, giving them a higher carb content than their milk counterpart.
  • Vega Smoothie (Pea Protein)
  • Vega Recovery Accelerator (Pea Protein)
  • Svelte Shake (Soy Protein)
  • Pro Bar Core (Soy Protein)
  • Navitas Hemp Seed (Hemp Protein)
EGG WHITE PROTEIN: Egg white protein is the OG protein. It used to be common practice for athletes to crack open eggs, dropping the whites into a glass and guzzling them down. While that is indeed a way to get egg white protein, now it is widely available in powder form. Like milk protein, egg white is naturally very low in fat and carbs. It is also 100% cholesterol-free and great if you are trying to avoid all dairy products. Or for people who find dairy and soy based proteins leave them bloated and cause stomach discomfort, egg white protein may be the solution. This type of protein is also very rich in amino acids, which are crucial to building lean muscle mass. NUTS & SEEDS: You can also get protein from nuts and seeds. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and flax seeds all can be high in protein. They are also often high in fat, so be careful about how much you consume. Additionally, nuts and seeds are also a great source of many necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • All Good Provisions Nuts (Almond, Pecans, assorted)
  • Skout Trail Pack (Pumpkin Seeds)
        Sources: Whey vs Casein, http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/authors/mark+g+taylor+ms/showarticle.aspx?articleid=896 What Are Protein Foods: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html