Whey, caesin, soy. What’s the difference?
I’ve recently experimented with different types of protein powders to compare the difference in taste, how well it mixes and how it makes me feel. Part of doing this was visiting a few well-known specialty stores and asking questions. At one store I was told something totally different from what I thought I knew about protein powders. So I did a little research online.
Based on the powders I tried, store visits, what I’ve learned in the past and information provided online, this is what I have learned…
This seems to be the most popular protein supplement. Whey is a by-product in the process of turning milk into cheese. Whey protein is commonly used to promote lean muscle growth and for fat loss. Whey is a fast absorbing protein often recommended to use immediately following a workout.
Casein is produced using a separation process applied to liquid milk that can concentrate or isolate the milk protein from the carbs and fats. Casein protein powder is similar to whey with the biggest difference being casein is considered a slow absorbing protein. Because casein digests over a long period of time, research has found it’s an optimal protein choice for before going to bed.
Egg protein comes from, well, eggs! It is a complete protein made by separating out the yolks and dehydrating the egg whites. Egg protein has an added benefit of being rich in vitamins and minerals.
What is commonly known as a carbohydrate is also a source of protein. Who knew? In addition to protein, brown rice protein is also considered a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin B, and fiber. It’s also hypoallergenic, meaning it’s easily digestible and almost entirely used by the body.
A popular vegetarian option. Soy protein is extracted from soy beans and provides all of the essential amino acids. The protein is concentrated or isolated after the soy beans have been hulled and dried into soy flour.
Another vegetarian favorite. Hemp protein is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant containing all of the essential amino acids. Often referred to as a “superfood” due to its mix of essential fatty acids. As a frequent user of hemp seeds I know the added benefits of hemp protein powder is reported to include improved metabolism, brain function, and circulation. Hemp also includes all 21 amino acids making it one plant source of complete proteins. Like the rice protein, hemp is also very hypoallergenic making it very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
Pea protein comes from the yellow split pea, making it a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans. As with most plant-based proteins, pea protein is hypoallergenic so the body is able to process the vast majority of each serving. Compared to most of the protein powders I tried, pea protein is made with few additives or artificial ingredients, making it appealing to those looking for protein sources provided by whole foods.
There are probably more options out there but as far as the most common and easily found in grocery and specialty stores this seems to be what’s available. When deciding which protein powder I would use most often I considered:
- texture (not gritty or chalky)
- how well it blends
My takeaway from all of this? My preference will always be whole food plant-based sources of protein. When I use a protein powder for recipes, smoothies and shake-n-go, I prefer a multi-source plant-based blend.