Protein Powder Guide: 7 Most Popular Types Explained
Don’t know your whey from your hemp when it comes to protein? No need to get in a gains-related fluster – BALANCE have got you covered with this comprehensive beginner’s guide to all the different types of protein. Plus, we’ve chucked in some of our recommended products, too.
1. WHEY PROTEIN
Where does it come from? Whey is one of the two types of protein found in milk, and is separated in liquid form from the curds during the cheesemaking process.
The nutritional details: The well-known top choice for muscle growth, whey protein has been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to greater degrees compared to other forms. Boasting one of the best quality amino acid profiles, whey is also rich in BCAAs, which play a major role in recovery.
For those who struggle to digest the lactose retained in typical whey protein concentrate, whey is also available in an isolate form – which contains significantly less of this sometimes troublesome milk sugar.
We recommend: The Organic Protein Company Whey Protein
Whey and nothing else! This Certified Organic filtered fresh whey comes from organic grass fed cow’s milk, and offers 19.8g protein per serving. It boasts all of the naturally occurring amino acids and BCAAs found in whey, but is completely free from hormones, gluten, soya, and GMO.
If you don’t fancy the unflavoured option, try out Madagascan Vanilla, or Raw Cacao & Maca.
2. CASEIN PROTEIN
Where does it come from? Casein is the other type of protein found in milk. Making up 80% of the total mill protein, casein is much more abundant than whey.
The nutritional details: While whey digests quickly, casein forms a gel when it interacts with stomach acid, slowing down stomach emptying and delaying your bloodstream’s absorption of amino acids. Slow-digesting, casein protein provides a much steadier exposure of your muscles to amino acids, and promotes muscle mass growth and fat loss during healthy calorie restriction.
We recommend: BULK POWDERS™ Micellar Casein
Boasting an 85% protein content, this protein powder can be used as part of a healthy balanced diet, and due to its slow digestion, is popular to consume pre-bed and during the day, when you may not eat for a prolonged period of time.
Available unflavoured, or in Chocolate, Strawberry and Vanilla.
3. SOY PROTEIN
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The nutritional details: Soy is a complete plant-based protein – meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs to obtain from food. Soy contains the BCAA leucine – which helps build muscle – and is widely regarded as better at initiating protein synthesis than casein, but not as effective as whey.
We recommend: Myprotein Soy Protein Isolate
Delivering a whopping 27g of protein per serving – with a 90% protein content. Low in fat and sugar, it’s perfect for increasing protein intake without adding unwanted extra calories.
Enjoy it unflavoured, or try out the other three deliciously indulgent options – Chocolate Smooth, Strawberry Cream, and Vanilla.
4. PEA PROTEIN
Where does it come from? Pea protein comes from yellow split peas, which have been de-shelled, dried and grounded down into a fine powdery flour, before the starch is removed, and the protein is obtained.
The nutritional details: A popular choice amongst vegans, pea protein comes from the high-fibre yellow split pea, and contains all but one of the essential amino acids. It’s also particularly rich in BCAAs, and is believed to trigger the release of several fullness hormones.
We recommend: Pulsin Pea Protein
With 80% protein, this unflavoured protein powder is incredibly versatile, and due to its heat stable nature, is ideal for easily stirring into sweet and savoury drinks and dishes.
Completely natural, it’s non-GM, contains no added fillers or sweeteners, and is rich in iron and zinc.
5. HEMP PROTEIN
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Where does it come from? Hemp is related to marijuana, but only contains trace amounts of the psychoactive THC. The protein powder is made by grinding pressed hemp seeds into a fine powder.
The nutritional details: Another vegan protein choice, hemp contains all nine essential amino acids – but studies differ on how much of each specific amino acid it contains. Rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also a good source of antioxidants and minerals – specifically magnesium and iron – and contains specific proteins that make it an easy protein to digest.
We recommend: Naturya Organic Hemp Powder
This all-natural powder is a 49% organic plant protein which helps to build lean muscle, maintain energy levels and aid recovery. Great for supporting overall health, it provides 20 amino acids, and is a source of magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese & omega-3 fatty acids.
Unflavoured – but naturally nutty – it’s perfect for blending into your post-workout smoothie.
6. BROWN RICE PROTEIN
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Where does it come from? To create brown rice protein powder, rice grains are ground up, and treated with an enzyme to separate the starch from the protein.
The nutritional details: Although low in the essential amino acid, lysine, brown rice protein powders are rich in BCAAs – making them a good support for muscle growth, alongside regular weight training. Results show that brown rice protein powder can have beneficial effects on overall body composition.
We recommend: TPW™ Brown Rice Protein
A sustainably sourced, plant-based protein, this protein powder boasts a complete amino acid profile, and offers 26g of protein per serving. A totally lean way to build muscle, it only contains 0.2g of fat and 1.7g of carbs – totalling to only 117 kcals per serving.
Totally unflavoured, it mixes in practically undetected.
7. MIXED PLANT PROTEINS
Where do they come from? Mixed plant-based powders are made from a combination of several plant protein sources.
The nutritional details: For vegans looking to get the complete spectrum of essential amino acids, combining two or more plant-based protein powders is a good bet. This means that you can reap the benefits from many different vegan sources of protein.
We recommend: Swisse Me Mind & Body Vegan Protein Powders
Combining three of the best plant-based protein sources – Hemp Seed, Pumpkin Seed and Pea Isolate – this vegan powder is also enriched with exotic mushrooms (Lion’s Mane, Maitake), friendly bacteria, and Inulin fibre.
Designed to support both the mind and body, this complete plant-based powder also contains a blend of vitamins and minerals: B1 and B12 to support psychological function; Biotin for healthy hair and skin; and Magnesium for nervous system support.
Delicious in natural flavour, choose from Cacao Hazelnut, Vanilla Cinnamon, Raspberry Strawberry, and Salted Caramel. No added sugar and 15-17g of protein per serving.