With so much choice now available it can be a very confusing as to what is the best protein supplement to lose weight and build muscle.
From the many conversations I have had with friends about buying protein powder most of them are completely overwhelmed about which one is the best to take.
Take it account that most whey protein on the market is still aimed at the hardcore bodybuilding community it is no surprise that many people are reluctant to take whey because they have this notion that it is only used for adding lots of muscle.
Fortunately this situation is changing and many supplements are recognizing that regular people who train regularly want to start taking a protein supplement and have changed their marketing and packaging to give the product more mass market appeal.
Eating more protein in general either through food, supplementation or a combination of both can help lose body fat and studies have shown this to be true which we will discuss later.
So backed by this type of research and the demand for supplements to help lose weight it is easy to see why the protein supplement market is growing and new brands are coming onto the market all the time to take advantage of this opportunity.
So whether your goal is to build muscle,lose body fat or do both then a protein supplement is a useful tool to use.
What is a good protein powder to choose?
When choosing a brand of protein powder to use I think you should follow a basic guideline which is
As few artificial ingredients as possible, look for one with natural sweeteners.
A macronutrient formula that delivers a high amount of protein per scoop but is low in fats and carbs.
Has a nice taste of course and but not overly sweet.
It is easy to mix, doesn’t form into big clumps or requires a lot of water to get a smooth finish.
It is not overpriced. You should be able to get a decent one for between 30-50 bucks for a 1kg.
Having a whey protein supplement that is almost pure protein allows you to manage your nutrient intake more effectively when trying to lose body fat because you are not sneaking extra carbs or fats that you wouldn’t probably take into account when setting up your meal plans.
Most Popular Protein Supplements
When discussing protein powders most people are talking about whey protein although there are other options available which we will get too in a minute.
If you are not sure what whey is exactly it is basically the by product from cheese production. When milk is curdled and strained you are left with liquid whey.
Years ago whey was just disposed of until it was known that it contained all the amino acids and was especially high in leucine a very important amino acid for building muscle. So as you can imagine when sport nutrition companies heard this they were extremely interested and started the multibillion dollar protein supplement industry we see today.
Whey protein is great for both the manufacturer and the consumer because it is cheap to make and therefore can be sold at a healthy profit but at the same time the consumer gets a lot of product for their money and if used properly in conjunction with the right training program and diet help deliver results.
When to use whey
Whey supplements can be taken at any time but work best when used either just before or after workout. This is due to the fact that whey is very quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and delivers a good dose of amino acids into the muscles when are most responsive after training.
This then may help stimulate and support the muscle growth process quicker than if using food protein sources or other protein supplements that take longer to be broken down and digested.
How does protein help with weight loss?
So at the beginning of the article I mentioned whey is generally being marketed to women as a weight loss tool and they do this because they know most women are looking to lose weight but can increased protein consumption really help with weight loss?
Well research such as this study is showing us that it can.
A group of adult women with a bMI over 26 were split into 2 groups and for 10 weeks one followed a high protein, reduced carb diet and the other a high carb, reduced protein diet. Daily total calories where the same for everybody and was fat intake.
No exercise program was prescribed.
At the end of the 10 weeks both groups lost weight with the higher protein group just about showing the greater total. However where the figures were interesting is when measuring the total amount of body fat loss as a percentage of the total weight loss figure. In this the higher protein diet group lost almost twice as much body fat as the other group which would have given a far more dramatic result in terms of appearance.
So how does this happen?
Well the study revealed that the extra protein consumption helped retain or reduce significantly the loss in lean muscle mass. This result has also been shown in this study in Holland which was conducted in older people who were obese.
The amount of lean muscle in your body generally defines how fast your metabolism is working. The less muscle the less calories you burn and the more chance you have of gaining weight if you are not controlling your energy balance properly.
This is why you see people getting older and slowly gaining weight even if they their diets are unchanged.
It is because their metabolism is slowing down due to the natural loss of muscle mass that occurs as we get older. This is why following a resistance training program and higher protein based diet is important as we age to slow down this process and keep as much muscle as possible for as long as possible.
Along with helping the retention or growth of lean muscle mass to maintain or increase metabolic whey protein is often linked with controlling hunger responses after taking it. In this particular study on a group of athletes and the effect of whey on hunger response all noted a significant decrease in ratings of hunger after taking the supplement.
In this study to look at effects of whey protein on satiety 2 groups of adult women were given a carbohydrate supplement and the other a whey protein supplement.
The conclusion was that “whey protein had a greater satiating effect than carbohydrate” So no matter whether your goals are weight loss, building muscle and increasing strength whey protein is a good supplement to be using.
But what if you are lactose intolerant,your body doesn’t respond well to whey based products or you are a vegetarian and don’t want to consume animal based products?
If this is the case then there are whey proteins that have had virtually all the lactose removed and these are called and isolate or hydrolysate and will be clearly marked as suitable for vegetarians or people sensitive to lactose.
Probably second to whey in popularity and demand is Casein protein. Casein is another protein derived from milk like whey but is separate from lactose so you can consume casein if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive to lactose.
Likewise you could in intolerant to casein and able to consume lactose based products without issues.
In terms of performance casein is a much slower digesting protein compared to whey giving a more consistent release of amino acids over a longer period of time.
In the supplement and fitness communities there is an ongoing debate about which is the best overall protein (whey or casein) to be taking to build muscle with research showing conflicting reports.
However what is agreed upon is that as an immediate post workout drink whey is the better choice.
Casein therefore may be better to take at other times in the day especially just before bed so that your body has a steady stream of amino acids to help your body strength and repair the muscles that have been damaged from your workouts.
Eggs are a great source of protein for the body but eating lots of eggs every day is not viable for most people but you can overcome this with supplementing using powder based egg protein.
In terms of muscle growth stimulation egg protein ranks up there with Whey protein but unlike whey it is not a fast digesting protein and is absorbed even slower than casein. A pure egg protein supplement is taken from egg whites so contains very little carbs and fats but may have some added to improve the taste and texture of the product.
If you are struggling with Whey then egg protein is a good alternative. Even if you are taking whey you may want to consider using egg as well and just have it as a snack during the day.
Soy as a protein source can be effective in building muscle but controversy surrounds it in terms of the effect it can have on men.
Some studies are linking soy foods with reducing sex hormones in men duet to the molecules called isoflavones found in soy beans.
However other studies are showing no such effects so at the moment it is difficult to get a clear picture of what exactly is happening.
The good news for women though is that soy doesn’t seem to have any effect on hormone levels but there are other issues to consider.
Although research on soy is relating it to reducing heart disease in women and cancer other studies are showing that this is not the case and it might even be responsible for encouraging the growth of cancer cells.
In my opinion there are just too many grey areas in relation to taking higher levels of soy protein and I think there are better options to consider for your protein supplementation.
However if you are fine with taking soy protein here is the brand I recommend
Over the last decade other vegan based proteins have entered the market and gained popularity such as pea, rice an hemp.
The bodybuilding community is skeptical they are effective because they are seen as second-rate sources of protein.
They believe that plant based proteins are missing certain essential amino acids and therefore are not effective for stimulating muscle growth and repair.
This has been dismissed by research but there is still doubt about the effectiveness of these proteins in comparison to others on the market.
Of the three mentioned rice and pea are your best options with hemp best used as a food supplement rather than just used for increasing protein consumption.
Rice has a similar amino acid protein profile to beef so is a good choice especially as it is easy to take and tastes good.
Pea again has a good amino acid profile and like whey contains high levels of leucine which is vital for muscle growth so for me is your best vegan protein choice
Summary of the best protein supplements to buy
Hopefully you now have a clearer idea about whey protein and whether you should be taking protein supplements to help reach your fitness goals.
To quickly summarize
A good whey protein should be free from additives and artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
There is no whey protein specifically for weight loss but if you are looking to drop body fat go for a brand low in carbs and fats.
Whey is probably the best option to choose for your post workout shake.
Whey is also good for general protein supplementation but don’t discount using egg, casein pea or rice as well.
Whey protein supplements can help with your physique goals but they are only part of the overall strategy and for the best results are used in conjunction with a resistance based training program and diet plan that has been customized and designed depending on your situation and goals.
Thanks for reading this article and visiting the site
Have you got any thoughts about what is the best protein powder to buy? Or want to share some results or experiences from using protein supplements?
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