Anyone who, after years of a leisurely lifestyle, finally wants to get in shape and do something for their health is confronted with numerous recommendations, prohibitions, commandments and half-truths in the world of fitness. Magazines, fitness trainers, athletes from their own circle of friends seem to want to make the start into a healthy, active life easier and in the end only cause confusion. A classic in the industry is protein powder. Hardly any nutrition and training program, whether from a personal trainer or from a magazine, seems to do without the intake of protein in powder form. What purpose the powder serves and when the intake of protein powder can actually be useful, we want to clarify here.
What types of protein powder are there?
Of course, not all protein powders are the same. Numerous suppliers compete on the market and present their all the more numerous products. But what exactly is the difference between the available types of protein powder?
Whey protein powders are among the favorites in the fitness world in terms of muscle building and diet. Whey stands for whey protein and is characterized by a high content of branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids. These are necessary for the body’s own protein and muscle mass.
Whey protein has a high biological value, which means it can be easily converted by the body into the body’s own protein. It is also easily soluble in water (and milk). Whey protein is available in various degrees of purity – this describes the pure proportion of protein in addition to carbohydrates and fat.
A low carbohydrate content is always recommended, especially in diets, as this reduces the amount of calories. In this case, whey protein hydrolysate (up to 99% protein content according to the manufacturer) or whey protein isolate (over 90%) should be used. Thus one achieves a high protein intake with lower intake of carbohydrates.
The situation is different with the desire for weight gain and muscle building. Since for the muscle buildup in addition to a sufficient protein supply also a calorie surplus is necessary, whey protein concentrates can be used. Here the protein content varies between 30 and 80%.
In general, the purer (i.e. more protein) the powder is, the more consumers have to dig deeper into their pockets. This topic could also be of interest to you: Muscle building and proteinsCasein powder is also a popular source of protein. In contrast to whey protein, it is metabolized less quickly and supplies the body with amino acids over a longer period of time.
Casein powder is taken by many athletes in addition to whey powder. Taking it before bedtime can protect the body from muscle breakdown because the amino acid level is kept high longer. The numerous protein powders each have different properties – in a multi-component protein, these sources are combined with each other to achieve an ideal, complementary amino acid profile.
A common combination is casein, egg protein and whey. Soy protein, rice protein or pea protein are also often found in multicomponent proteins. Whether one prefers to use a mixture instead of a pure product depends on the personal objective.
A distinction must be made between weight loss and muscle building. Athletes who primarily want to build up muscle mass can resort to the so-called weight gainers. They are especially recommended for slim people who have difficulties building up weight due to a fast metabolism (so-called hard gainers).
In addition to proteins, they also contain carbohydrates and fats and are particularly rich in calories. Without appropriate training, however, an excess of calories, whether through proteins or carbohydrates, leads to an increase in fat reserves, the consumption of protein powder alone does not lead to muscle build-up. Egg protein is extracted from the egg white.
The moisture is removed from the egg white, which results in the powder. Egg protein has a very high biological value and is optimally absorbed and metabolised by the body. It is also lactose-free and can therefore be a good alternative in case of intolerances.
In addition, egg protein is particularly low in calories and is suitable in dietary phases. Only the slightly bitter taste is a small shortcoming of the otherwise great alternative to the classic protein powders. The milk protein powders Whey and Casein as well as the egg protein mentioned so far are not an alternative for vegan living sportsmen.
Straight for these is a high supply of protein however enormously important for health and sporty successes, why vegan protein powders can represent a meaningful addition of a balanced vegan nutrition.The protein sources in vegan protein powders are diverse – including rice protein, hemp protein, pea protein, soy protein, or protein from flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more. Vegan athletes do not necessarily have to mix their protein powders with water. Also soy milk, hemp milk and others can be delicious alternatives.