How to Select The Best Protein Powder For You!
The best protein powder for you to use depends on the time you plan on taking it. For example, the type of protein powder you have pre- or post-exercise is different from the best protein powders to use as a meal replacement or before going to bed.
Protein powder is great to use for several reasons. If you're a hard-training athlete, your requirement for protein increases and 'drinking your protein' is an easy way of getting the extra protein that your body needs.
Benefits of having a regular protein shake:
Easier to consume small, regular meals
Ensures a meal contains all 3 macronutrients
The protein can be easily absorbed and utilised by your body
How to select the best protein powder
As was mentioned earlier, the best protein powder to use depends on when you planning on taking it. So we will consider three of the most common times and what is the best protein powders to use.
Pre- or Post-ExerciseThe best form of protein powder to use pre- or post-exercise is a whey protein isolate (WPI). This is the most processed form of whey protein powder and may come in various forms depending on the filtration method used. Some of the methods for preparing whey protein isolate include: cross-flow micro-filtration, ion-exchange and hydrolysed whey protein isolate.
Any of these forms of whey protein isolates are highly processed and are rapidly absorbed into the body because very little, if any, digestion is required. These protein powders are considered to be in a 'pre-digested form'.
This means that when they are taken they causes a rapid increase in the blood amino acid level followed by a corresponding drop shortly afterwards.
By taking a small amount of whey protein isolate (WPI) pre-exercise (in water because milk slows absorption) you induce glucagon release from the pancreas. One of the functions of glucagon is to liberate glucose from the glycogen stores in the liver. This can provide energy to the working muscles during the exercise session.
Also, the amino acids from the protein shake may prevent 'catabolism' (muscle breakdown) from occurring during the workout. The liberated glucose may also have a 'protein-sparing' or 'anti-catabolic' effect.
The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are high in whey protein powder, are known to be directly oxidised in muscle tissue and are therefore a source of energy to the working muscles.
The best protein powder to use post-exercise is also a whey protein isolate (WPI). The main reason why WPIs are the best form of protein powder to have after training is simply because of its rapid absorption properties.
By having a rapidly absorbed protein after exercise, you can immediately start repairing the damaged muscle tissue. This will potentially reduce recovery time post-exercise.
Meal / Snack ReplacementThe best protein powder to use as a meal replacement is a whey protein concentrate (WPC). They have higher levels of carbohydrate and fat compared to the whey protein isolates because they aren't as refined but they also have higher levels of 'glycomacropeptides' (larger chains of amino acids, peptides, that have health-promoting benefits). The higher levels occur because the protein powder has had less processing.
The higher fat levels and less processing means that they whey protein takes slightly longer to be absorbed in the body. This is an advantage for meal replacements because it means that the level of amino acids remains high in the blood stream for longer after consumption even though absorption isn't as fast. Whey protein concentrates are generally much cheaper than whey protein isolates as well.
WPCs are the best form of protein powder to use as a meal replacement and are best used with a small amount of low-fat milk to help promote a more sustained release of amino acids into the blood stream. A WPC/ WPI blend may also be used as a meal replacement.
Pre-sleep Protein PowderThe best protein powder to use before going to bed is primarily casein. Casein is the other form of protein found in dairy foods. It is not as high-quality as whey protein due to its lower levels of BCAAs but has other properties that are beneficial, making it the ideal 'pre-sleep' protein powder.
When it is consumed, casein forms a 'gel' in the stomach, which means the release of amino acids into the blood stream is extremely slow. This slow-release of amino acids means that the lean tissues of the body, particularly muscle tissue, are less likely to go into a catabolic state or 'negative nitrogen balance'. This is particularly important since the body is going without food for several hours.
A combination of whey protein and casein pre-sleep may even be better than a pure casein protein powder alone because then you provide your body with high-quality amino acids in combination with the slow-release properties.
In saying all of this, using three different forms of protein powder during the day is an advanced strategy and is really only necessary for people who are serious about their training, i.e. bodybuilders and fitness competitors.
If you simply want to lose weight and tone up then it is really only necessary to have one type of protein powder during the day. You can still consume it at the same times that we have covered here, you simply need to have the pre-and post-exercise protein powder in water and the meal replacement and pre-sleep protein powder in milk to slow absorption.
Out of the three type of protein powders that we have covered here, the best whey protein powder to use is the combination of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. There are many protein powders on the market that offer this combination. The WPI/ WPC combination is a high-quality, moderately rapid absorbing and cost-effective protein powder.
If you would like to get a tub of the world's best whey protein powder, please click on this link: Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey, Natural Vanilla, 2 Pound
Also, if you would like to find out more about whey protein, please get a copy of Will Brink's fantastic book, Fifty Shades of Whey.
Will is one of my all-time favourite authors and fitness experts and comes from a scientific background like me. His books, articles and videos are easy to understand and are thoroughly enjoyable. He is a wealth of knowledge!
Here is one of Will's many videos where he discussed the differences between whey protein and caseine. Enjoy!
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