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Protein Powder: Part 1

With protein powder being one of the most bought supplements on the market, and one of the most asked about supplements with people doing P90X, I wanted to quickly help educate everyone on the different types. Looking at the ingredients list on a protein powder can be like reading a different language. It is usually because they contain several types of whey, casein and even soy. What’s the difference?  Which do you want while doing P90X or Insanity?   See below:

Whey Protein Powder: Whey protein is a protein derived from milk, the protein found in cows milk (think curds and whey). This is probably the most popular form of protein powder used in the protein industry. Whey protein has the highest biological value of all proteins.

What does this mean? This means that whey is the highest quality protein. They boast a large BCAA (branched chain amino acid) profile, and will highly elevate amino acid levels when taken.

Whey protein is absorbed faster than any other protein source. This makes it ideal for drinking after workouts, and first thing in the morning when the body needs nutrients and aminos as quick as possible.  This is the reason why whey protein is found in the P90X recovery drink.  Your body needs to get amino acids as quickly as possible post workout, so whey protein is the best option.

Egg Protein Powder: Egg protein is powdered egg whites. It’s a slower digesting form of protein and the biological value of egg protein ranks up close to whey, coming in 2nd. It is a good way to get the benefits of eggs without the fat and cholesterol.  Egg protein is considered the “Gold Standard” of protein to this day because of the high level of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.  Digesting more slowly then whey but more quickly then Casein, Egg protein is a great way to add protein during the day or at breakfast.

Casein Protein Powder: Casein is the protein found in milk, and is part whey. Casein is a slower digested protein, and although it won’t rise amino acid levels as high as whey, it will keep the levels elevated much longer than whey. Whey usually keeps levels up for 3-4 hours, while casein does for 7 hours.

The protein forms a type of gel in your stomach, and this allows the slow release over hours. This is what makes casein a great pre-bed protein, it will keep your body anabolic throughout the night.

Milk also has a high biological value. Some people may not be able to consume casein protein powder because of their tolerance to lactose.

Soy Protein Powder: Soy protein is not necessarily the best way to increase, or supplement, your protein intake using non-animal sources.  Soy protein contains estrogen-mimicking compounds that can interfere with your hormones, and on top of that most of the soy in the marketplace is GMO (genetically modified), two important reasons why I don’t use Soy protein.

The benefits of soy primarily come from its isoflavone content. Isoflavones are a type of antioxidant that combats cell damage. These isoflavones have anabolic effects, aiding in repairing damaged muscle tissue after resistance training.

Caution: The active compound, “Isoflavones”, have been shown to raise estrogen levels in men, and also negatively affect thyroid function when consumed in high amounts. While eating soybeans or some tofu won’t likely have this type of impact; it’s possible to ingest enough soy through supplementation to experience the undesirable effects. If a soy protein is listed as the first or second ingredient on the label, choose another product.

Which is the best?: The answer isn’t clear cut. Different types of protein are good at different times. If you can’t decide which is best for you then try a blend. Any will provide your muscles with the raw materials for growth, but combining them allows you to optimize your protein intake, no matter when you down a shake In a recent study, researchers at Baylor University asked men to lift weights, then drink either a whey-protein shake or a beverage containing both whey and casein protein. After 10 weeks, those who had the combo drink pack on about 5 pounds more muscle than those who had only whey. So if your looking to buy a protein powder to help with P90X, I would suggest thinking whey protein first.  If you can find a good, low fat, low sugar blend then you might get the best of both worlds.  Just some food for though.

If you have questions or want to leave a comment then please do so!

Coach Sean

*sourced from Men’s Health,, Mark’s Daily Apple