By Danielle Michels
VIDA Fitness Blogger
The options of post-workout protein supplements are endless, which can leave you feeling misguided on the best fit with your workout routine. Typically misguided information leads to not taking the protein that would be best for you, or not taking anything at all.
Don’t fret, we’re here to give you the scoop on all things protein: the main varieties as well as their benefits and purposes so you can get the most out of your workouts and the recovery process.
Even if your knowledge of protein is vague, this is most likely the one you’ve heard of. It’s relatively easy on the wallet, and is a good option for people wanting a little boost in the recovery process.
Essentially, whey is the watery portion of milk and comprises about 20 percent of milk’s proteins while casein comprises the other 80 percent (more on that in a minute). It’s a complete amino acid source with high levels of most essential amino acids, i.e. the proteins that the body cannot make on its own, and it absorbs quickly.
Clinical research shows that whey protein used in conjunction with strength training can increase lean body mass and muscle size (no worries, not to hulk-like proportions), however whey can be harder to digest for anyone with a dairy sensitivity. Whey protein mixed with water or coconut water is the most common way to take this supplement, but mixing whey protein in to a shake or smoothie is a bit of a tastier option. Keep in mind that the latter will have you consuming more calories; so just make sure the other additives are good for post-workout recovery.
Casein is the only other dairy protein and its properties are vastly different from whey, however its effects in terms of post-workout recovery are similar. Slow to absorb, casein typically gives your bloodstream a slow and steady flow of amino acids for 5 to 7 hours making it a good option for consuming in the evening.
Also, due to its slow absorbing nature, casein tends to be more gel-like, which is awesome if you like a supplement with a little more substance, but terrifying if texture freaks you out. Beyond it’s ability to be used in all those protein baked goods recipes you see on Pinterest, casein is higher in calcium, but will give you the same benefits as whey.
Before an image of a body builder cracking open a dozen eggs in to a blender and then taking a college-party like chug, let’s rewind. Egg protein is in powder form, and is completely safe to consume since there is a heat treatment process before the whites are dehydrated to make the powder.
Now that you know you won’t be getting salmonella, egg protein, or egg albumin, has a great amino acid profile making it an ideal way to add more protein to your diet, especially if you’re vegetarian or keep meat consumption low. While not a heavyweight in the protein world, egg albumin does assist in the building of lean muscle mass.
Don’t think we forgot our vegans out there, while egg and soy proteins are both great for vegetarians, soy protein is more ideal for those of the vegan variety. Also, it’s pretty inexpensive.
Soy protein’s benefits include being a good option both pre and post workout and aids in recovery with the help of glutamine and BCAA (branch chain amino acids). However, soy protein does contain other bioactive, for example estrogen-like properties, which may make some steer clear.
While these categories of protein cover a few of the main bases, this is just scratching the surface. More than anything, there is no right or wrong protein to go with, healthy bodies are made through consuming the right amount of protein through whole food sources and supplementing as needed.
For most people completing 3 to 5 hard workouts per week, supplemental proteins can be extremely beneficial, but as with any change in your diet or exercises routines please consult a professional.
Still need more information or have questions? Our registered dietician, Cat, is here to help!