Today’s fast pace of living, unfortunately, does not allow enough time for daily consumption of enough protein required to maintain your shape and muscle mass. In a hurry to get a meal, people often turn to junk food which is full of sugars and trans fats. This is when protein supplements can serve as ‘fast food’ and a meal replacement.
Protein meals can be prepared with ease (with protein bars even the preparation phase can be avoided) and most of these formulas available today taste great. However, there are different categories of supplements, each with its own set of rules for use. Because of this, we are going to elaborate the protein sources in these supplements.
There are many protein sources which can be used in the production of protein powders or bars. The protein quality is measured according to its biological value (BV – unit of measurement used for calculating the amount of protein that the body can absorb and utilize, based on the nitrogen retention. Protein supplements with higher BV allow your body to easily absorb and retain nitrogen.
Subsequently, the proteins with the highest BV are the most beneficial for muscles development. Whey protein has the highest biological value. The egg protein ranks second with BV of 100, followed by milk proteins with 91, beef proteins with 80, soy proteins with 74. The beans proteins have the lowest biological value of 49. We will address each protein source individually.
1. WHEY PROTEIN
A number of studies have shown that whey is an excellent source of protein. This is the reason why:
- Whey protein helps in improving sport results, by alleviating stress and reducing cortisol release. Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone” that breaks down muscle tissue. Constantly high cortisol is a precursor for many health problems).
- Whey protein strengthens the immune system by increasing the level of glutathione, a water soluble antioxidant.
- It serves for reduction of blood pressure
- Whey helps in treating HIV
- Helps in relieving the feeling of training fatigue (which is also related to low levels of glutathione or GSH).
Whey protein is easy to digest and has a better amino acid profile than egg whites. In other words, whey proteins have the highest biological value. Whey protein is not a steroid based substance as it is believed by some people. According to the latest studies, it is an important food supplement, which is evident from the listed reasons.
It is also important to know that not every whey protein is produced in the same way. The whey protein as described above, must be micro filtrated. Otherwise, it will be just a residual product of milk pasteurization. The microfiltration should be performed at low temperatures, in order to avoid production of high concentration of undenatured proteins, with minimum concentration of fats, lactose and cholesterol.
WHEY ISOLATES AND CONCENTRATES
There are whey isolates and concentrates.Whey protein is created with filtration of the liquid portion of of milk. The mass that’s left behind is whey concentrate. The percentage of protein in whey concentrate can vary in the range from 30 to 80 percent. Respectively, whey concentrate also contains varying percentages of fat and carbohydrates in the form of lactose.
Whey isolate is a further purified and filtered whey concentrate. Large proteins that exist in the concentrate are broken down to sub fractions and individual amino acids. These sub-fractions of whey proteins, are easily absorbed by the body. They are a good choice as an addition to your post workout meal, because during this period, the body needs fast absorbing amino acids.
However, whey isolates are not a good supplement for the rest of the day, because the body does not require all the amino acids which are released in the bloodstream, and shall use them in production of energy, and not for muscle growth.
It is also important to stress out that the whey isolates do not provide most of the above mentioned health benefits, as the process necessary for production of whey isolate burns up many sub-fractions important for strengthening the immune system, such as lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, and immunoglobulin. Hence, you should use whey concentrate during the day, and after practice it is better to use whey isolate.
2. EGG PROTEIN
The egg protein is an outstanding widely available organic protein. Its only inferior to whey protein. This protein is released more slowly into the bllodstream than whey protein, making it ideal for use throughout the day. One of the things you can do is to mix the eggs with whey protein, thus creating the best organic shake in the whole world.
3. MILK PROTEIN (CALCIUM CASINATE AND MICELLAR CASEIN)
Milk proteins are similar to egg proteins – excellent widely available organic proteins. Their BV is somewhat lower compared to the egg protein, and they are released in the blood stream at a much slower rate. Calcium casinate is the dominant protein in milk and dairy products. Micellar casein is a natural undenatured form of casein found in milk. It is derived from the milk by employing ultrafiltration without application of chemicals. This increases the quantity of bioactive milk peptides, boosting the immune system and improving the muscles growth.
One of the characteristics of micellar casein is that it provides balanced amino acid release in the bloodstream, making it a perfect choice as a prolonged release anti-catabolic protein (protein that helps muscle growth).
4. BEEF PROTEIN
Beef proteins are released in the bloodstream at a slower rate, and their biological value is 80. Although they are not available at the market as protein powder, they are available in form of beef liver capsules, which provide you with all the benefits of beef proteins. These proteins are rich in iron and vitamin B complex, factors that contribute to improved utilization of nutrients and energy production.
5. SOY PROTEIN
Several studies have revealed that soy proteins have positive effects on the health of both of men and women. It has also been proven that they can reduce the risk of many diseases, including the hormonal ones (breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.) The primary health benefit of soy protein consumption is reduction of cholesterol levels, and alleviating the menopause symptoms (because it contains phytoestrogens). They also help in osteoporosis treatment, because they stimulate the growth of bone mass.
Because of this, experts recommend that women should consume one meal of soy proteins. However, when it comes to muscle growth, soy proteins are not sufficient (their BV value is 49). These proteins are rich in BCAA amino acids, and can be optimally utilized in combination with protein with higher BV.
After the introduction of different types of protein found in the protein supplements, we will overview several different types of protein supplements available at the market.
1. WEIGHT GAINER SHAKES
Most of these shakes available at the market have a high content of calories consisting of carbohydrates and 30-40 g. of proteins (per dose). The protein in them may be whey protein (mostly concentrates, with not as many isolates) and/or other sources of protein, such as milk and eggs. These products also have a high percentage of carbohydrates: usually maltodextrin (glycaemic carbohydrate) and fructose (simple fruit sugar).
Weight gainers were extremely popular in the 90’s, but their demand gradually diminished, because the metabolism of most people is not as fast as the metabolism of professional athletes or bodybuilders. The diet with high amounts of carbohydrates was resulting in increased obesity instead of increased muscle mass.
However, for the bodybuilders, which have less than 10% of body fat, these beverages are useful and provide high quality calories, necessary for quality muscle gain in the off-season.
It would be best to drink these shakes in the mid morning, or as an after-training meal, because the carbohydrates are released quickly. You can mix the weight gainer powders with fruit juice or skimmed milk. If you want to increase calories, you should not shy away from linseed and fruits.
2. MEAL REPLACEMENT SHAKES
These shakes contain substantially fewer calories. They are not as rich in carbohydrates as the weigh gainers. When it comes to protein, most of these shakes contain whey protein, yet there are other formulas available at the market consisting of whey and milk protein mixture.
The usual carbohydrate component is maltodextrin (25-27 g. per meal), yet the new generation formula contains slow-releasing carbohydrates, such as the brown rice and rye, in order to reduce the glycemic index. New formulas also have additions of essential fatty acids, vitamins and mineral. Although these products do not contain enough calories for the bodybuilders, they can be of use if supplemented with other ingredients, such as fruit, skimmed milk, essential fatty acids, thus increasing their caloric value.
3. PROTEIN POWDER SUPPLEMENTS
Protein powders largely consist of protein (usually whey protein, but other mixtures as well). Most of them do not contain more than 5 grams of carbohydrates and more than 20-25 grams of proteins per dose. With regards to the calories, they contain about 100 to 125 calories.
According to the expert advice, mixed protein powders are the ideal choice for athletes, because they contain proteins which will be released immediately upon entering the body. The other proteins from the mix will be released more slowly, and can remain present in the system during the next few hours (until the next meal). The powders consisting of whey isolate and concentrate are the optimal post workout choice, because they are quickly released in the bloodstream.
4. PROTEIN BARS
Protein bars can contain any of the above listed proteins. The carbohydrate mix in protein bars is usually a combination of glycerol (which is not a carbohydrate, but sugar alcohol) and several sugar types. Compared to the weight gainers, the protein bars contain fewer calories. You should choose carefully which brand of protein bars you buy, because some of them have high fat content and are packed with sugar.
If you aim at losing weight, limit your protein bars intake to one a day. If you are preparing for a competition, avoid them entirely.
5. READY TO DRINK PROTEIN SHAKES (RTD PROTEIN SHAKES)
These shakes are novelty on the supplements market. They are characterised with a high percentage of protein (most of the mixed proteins) with addition of essential fat acids and small percentage of carbohydrates. Also, most of them contain vitamins and minerals. They are highly practical for people who do not have time to mix their shakes due to their busy schedule. These shakes can taste superb.
6. BEEF LIVER PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS (CAPSULES)
Beef liver capsules are a superb choice of protein used by the bodybuilders for decades. In order to be efficient, these capsules should be produced using beef liver with the highest quality, and should not contain fats, cholesterol and other impurities found in liver.
The beef liver capsules provide heme iron (used in creation of red blood cells), vitamin B complex, lipotropic choline and inositol. They are also a great source of vitamins A, C and D, and other micro nutrients such as the selenium antioxidants, phosphorus, copper, zinc and GTF chromium (which helps the insulin regulation). Take 3-4 capsules after each meal. Each capsule adds 2 grams of beef protein to your meal.
Which protein supplements should you use – weight gainers, meal replacement shakes, pure protein powders, bars or ready to drink protein shakes? Which one should you choose?
Do you want to gain weight? In this case the weight gainers and protein bars (especially those with higher percentage of calories) are your choice.
If you are looking for a complete meal consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, some fats, and you want to maintain lean body, than the best choice would be MRP shake.
Do you want to cut down the expenses? Buy a 2 kg package of mixed protein powders, which, depending on the manner of mixing, can be used for gaining weight or muscles without adding fats.
Do you have a busy schedule? Then, the RTD shake is the best choice. Naturally, you can mix and combine different protein supplements depending on your daily schedule and goals.
Keep in mind that protein supplements are just that: addition to a healthy diet. Do not mistake them for meals, thinking they are better than food, because they are not. The real food (proteins in food) should always be the primary choice in creating the basis of a good bodybuilding and fitness diet.