After watching a supplement ad, meeting a muscular friend or flipping through an exercise magazine, it would seem fitness and protein have a strong relationship. This article examines the benefits of protein and answers the question: “what kind of protein should you take?

What is a protein?

A protein is one of the essential nutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, minerals and vitamins) required by the human body for optimal growth and development. Several types of protein include signaling proteins (involved in transmitting information), functional proteins (enzymes in nature) and structural proteins (makes up the skin, joints, tendons and muscle mass).  The main theme of this article is structural proteins.

What kind of protein supplement is right for you?

Nowadays working out and taking protein shakes go hand-in-hand. However, if you want to use protein effectively it’s all down to timing and choosing the right type. The major types of protein supplements are:

Milk protein

Milk protein is a mixture of two types of proteins; 80% casein and 20% whey. Both proteins have different properties, ingredients, absorbing and digesting time and body effects. Milk protein is usually blended with other type of proteins to get a maximal effect.

  • Pros: makes the bones strong
  • Cons: contraindicated for lactose intolerance individuals
  • Suggestion: not a preferred type for beginners

Whey protein

Derived from milk, whey is one of the most popular, advertised and a must have ingredient in the protein samples. High concentration of amino acids, peptides and cysteine makes it a super ingredient. It is the most rapidly absorbing and digesting form that provide maximal effect within no time. Whey is well-known for gaining lean muscle mass, reducing fat and improving cardiac health.

  • Pros: Inexpensive, readily digestible
  • Cons: can cause allergy due to its sugar component (alka-lactose)
  • Suggestion: excellent starting point for beginners

Casein protein

It is the 80% portion of milk and is often used to make butter, cheese and other milk derived products. It contains a little more amount of amino acids, fats and carbohydrates than whey, which makes it slower to absorb and digest. Body craves for nutrients after workout, so it is not ideal as a post exercise supplement.

  • Pros: optimal effect before bed, pre-workout supplement
  • Cons: expensive, not so palatable
  • Suggestion: excellent supplement for pre-workout but not for after exercise

Egg protein

Two main proteins in egg are ovalbumin and ovoglobulin. Ovoglobulin deviates more toward a functional protein, so it is of no use for building muscle mass. Egg white is packed with ovalbumin, a potent lean muscle builder due to its high amino acid content.

  • Pros: also rich in vitamin and minerals, easy available
  • Cons: allergies towards egg protein are common
  • Suggestion: synthetic egg proteins are most expensive, rely on natural source instead

Soy protein

Derived from “soybeans”, it is one of few proteins that provide all essential amino acids (linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid). Other beneficial ingredients include arginine and glutamine. However, it is the most controversial of all protein types owing to some researches that prove it as a super food while others suggest its contraindication in certain situations.

  • Pros: boost immune system, improves cardiac health, promote bone health
  • Cons: effects hormone level in a negative way
  • Suggestion: avoid it altogether, prefer blend rather