Ultimate guide to Protein Supplements

Saad Rana Jul 20 2014

Protein 101

Protein is a macronutrient found in many foods such as meats, dairy products, nuts and beans. It helps promote a healthy weight and helps muscle recovery after a workout. Its comprised of amino acid, the building blocks of lean body tissue that promote healthy skin, hair, nails, bone, as well as muscles. There are two ways protein supplements are classified:

  • Protein concentrate vs isolate: As protein is derived from various foods, it is concentrated by removing the non-protein parts and the result is a powder that is 70-85% pure protein. Isolation removes a greater percentage of the non-protein parts which yields up to 95% pure protein.
  • Complete vs incomplete protein: Amino acids that cannot be produced by the body are called essential amino acids. Complete protein contains all 10 essential amino acids whereas incomplete contains some, not all, essential amino acids.

Below is a list of the common protein powder supplements in the market and its pros and cons:

Whey Protein

This is the most popular protein supplement in the market. It is a by-product in the process of turning milk into cheese.

  • Pros: Whey protein has been shown to promote lean muscle growth and fat loss, as well supporting cardiovascular health and a healthy metabolism. It is also quickly absorbed by the body, making it a perfect supplement for post-workout recovery.
  •  Cons: The sugar found in milk (lactose) is a common allergen that can make whey indigestible for some people.

Casein Protein

It is produced using a seperation process applied to liquid milk that can separate the milk protein from carbs and fats.

  • Pros: Provides similar benefits as whey protein, only this digests over a long period of time, thus it is ideal for taking it before bed.
  • Cons: Another by-product of milk, it is also indigestible for people who are lactose intolerant. Also, because it is absorbed so slowly, it is not useful for post-workout recovery. Casein is also more expensive than whey and it usually contains artificial ingredients.

Egg Protein

Comes from eggs by seperating out the yolks and dehyrating the egg whites as it is a complete protein.

  • Pros: Egg protein powders are rich in vitamins and minerals that can contribute to a healthy diet.
  • Cons: Allergies to eggs are common, especially in children and young adults. It is also the most expensive supplement found in the market.


Soy Protein

Soy beans are one of the few plant protein sources that offer all the essential amino acids. The protein is concentrated or isolated after the soy beans have been dried into soy flour.

  • Pros: Protein from the soy bean may help in immune function and promote bone health. It may also prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  • Cons: Some research has provided that soy protein effects hormone levels. Also many foods already contain soy protein.

Rice Protein

Although it is full of carbohydrates, brown rice is thought to be an excellent choice vegetarian protein powder.

  • Pros: Brown rice is considered a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamin B, and fiber. It is also easily digestible therefore used entirely in the body.
  • Cons: Rice protein is an incomplete protein supplement that’s dificient in some amino acids and should not be used as a main source of dietary protein.

Pea Protein

Comes from the yellow split pea, making it an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Pros: As with most plant-based proteins, it is highly digestible by the body. It helps promote weight loss, and with little to no artificial ingredients, this is considered a top protein amongst people looking for whole-foods sources of protein.
  • Cons: Dificient in certain amino acids and should not be used a primary protein supplement.
Saad Rana

Saad Rana:

As a current dental student at Ziauddin University, Saad takes an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. He writes articles based on research through on-line publications as well as consulting various doctors and nutrition and fitness experts. When he's not writing for Health TV, you can find him studying, exercising or watching some of his favourite TV shows.