Best Whey Protein Powders: Top 10 Whey Protein Brands Reviewed

TOP 10 WHEY PROTEIN POWDERS

Whey protein powder products have been one of the most well researched and used sports nutrition products in the fitness industry. Protein as a dietary supplement has been used by hundreds of thousands of people as a meal replacement, muscle building supplement, and a low-calorie meal.

​Structurally, proteins are composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. They may also contain cobalt, sulfur, iron, and phosphorus.

All these elements, structured in a certain way, form the "building blocks" of proteins the so-called amino acids. Or in other words, the protein molecule can be represented as a long sequence of amino acids, stacked together by peptide bonds.

Top 10 Protein Supplement Reviews

1) MyProtein Impact Whey Protein 

Myprotein Impact Whey Protein Blend, Chocolate Smooth, 2.2 lbs (40 Servings)

What Is Impact Whey Protein by MyProtein

​MyProtein Impact Whey Protein is made from the highest quality whey concentrate. It contains 82% proteins and has been ranked as one of the top 10 protein supplements by many third-party testing companies.

Impact Whey Protein is a fast-absorbing source of protein that is in fact a by-product formed during the manufacturing of milk and cheese.

This product contains over 80% of top quality, undenatured protein, providing a range of both essential and non-essential amino acids which are important for recovery and stimulating muscle growth:

  • Increases muscle mass;
  • Improves recovery;
  • Has immediate dissolution;
  • Contains 20.5 grams of proteins in 1 dose of 25 g;
  • Contains 82% proteins;
  • It has 13 great flavors.

How Impact Way Is Manufactured to Meet Such a Low Price and Great Quality

​Its manufacturing process combines a unique combination of membrane filtration and drying at low temperature and pressure. This ensures careful separation and maximum preservation of the protein concentration. 

This method allows the protein to retain its natural function and high content of whey concentrate. Impact Whey Protein provides 82 grams of proteins per 100 grams (dry matter). 

It is low in fats and lactose but rich in calcium and essential amino acids. Impact Whey Protein is one of the protein products with the highest ratio of BCAAs.

What Are the Benefits of Impact Whey Protein

Unlike many proteins on the market, Impact Whey Protein is 100% whey protein concentrate with no other proteins added. Each scoop (25 g) serving will provide over 20 g of protein which will help with the growth and recovery of lean muscle mass.

Impact Whey Protein is derived from bovine milk and provides high levels of the essential amino acids (EAA’s) and branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) which are particularly important for stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and maintaining lean muscle tissue following exercise to prevent muscle breakdown.

Who Is Suitable Impact Whey Protein For

​​Impact Whey Protein is a great choice for professional athletes, healthy lifestyle lovers, or for those who need recovery, muscle mass gain or bodyweight control.

When Is the Most Appropriate Time to Take Impact Whey Protein

​Impact Whey Protein is best consumed straight after a workout or first thing in the morning as a source of protein or at any other time needed.

Suggested Use

Add 200-300 ml of water or milk into the shaker (the less liquid the thicker the shake will be). Then add 25 g, shake and consume. Use 2-3 times daily or as needed.

2) Optimum Gold Standard Whey

OPTIMUM NUTRITION GOLD STANDARD 100% Whey Protein Powder, Double Rich Chocolate

What Is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey gives your body the most important element needed for muscle growth - protein. If the post-workout recovery is a priority of yours, whey protein supplements are one of the most popular dietary supplements used by different athletes.

What Does Whey Gold Standard Contain

100% Whey Gold Standard contains 24 g of a protein blend, based on whey protein isolate. Thanks to that, the product contains a little more than 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and 4 grams of glutamine and glutamic acid.

​The manufacturers from Optimum Nutrition have additionally put some effort for the better absorption of the protein by adding pre-milled whey peptides that pass quickly through the stomach.

  • Whey protein isolates;
  • Primary source;
  • Protein powder drink mix;
  • 24 g protein;
  • 5.5 g BCAAs;
  • 4 g glutamine & glutamic acid;
  • Naturally & artificially flavored.

How Could 100% Whey Gold Standard Help Me

​Proteins have numerous functions in the human body but what attracts athletes is the muscle-building power. The muscle fibers get micro traumas during heavy exercise. 

Then, with sufficient rest and muscle-building material, these micro-traumas recover, as the muscles become stronger and larger through a process called over-recovery.

Unlike carbohydrates and fats, only proteins have the ability to form new tissues and that is why, without enough proteins, your body could not function, grow or develop optimally. The protein shake is ideal as an immediate drink after exercise when muscles are in their greatest need for proteins in order to start recovering and growing.

Usage

Use the product according to your individual protein needs for the day. For athletes, the recommended daily intake varies from 1.6 g to 2.2 g of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Take it before your workout, in case you exercise on an empty stomach, or after 4-5 hours since your last meal. You can drink your protein shake immediately after training, and also during the day - in addition to a menu low in proteins.

3) Now Foods Whey Protein Isolate

NOW Sports Nutrition, Whey Protein Isolate, 25 G With BCAAs, Unflavored Powder, 5-Pound

What Are the Main Benefits of NOW Foods Whey Protein

  • Improved recovery;
  • Immediate dissolution;
  • A high content of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs);
  • Completely natural - no Aspartame, Sucralose, and Acesulfame-K.

How This Product Is Produced

Whey Protein Isolate, a protein supplement, is produced by microfiltration through cross-flow at low temperature (Cross-Flow-Microfiltration Whey Protein Isolate) – this is considered a high-end protein (better quality than the whey concentrates).

The pure isolate is better filtered better than the concentrate and has a few fats and carbohydrates. Whey Protein Isolate contains undenatured proteins and high amounts of bioactive protein fractions.

​It is believed that the whey protein is of the highest quality because it has the highest biological value and gets absorbed quickly by the body. The product is of guaranteed quality and official origin from a leading manufacturer.

What Does NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate Contain

​​Whey Protein Isolate contains 25 grams of proteins in each dose. The proteins are produced by a process of microfiltration and do not contain carbohydrates, fats, and lactose. 

​The team from NOW Foods have taken precautions and have managed to keep all biologically active sub-fractions - beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobulin, and glycomacropeptides.

Unlike many other protein powders on the market, NOW Whey Protein Isolate contains no artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, or sucralose.

The Benefits of Whey Protein Isolate

The obtaining of the required amount of proteins for muscle growth and improved recovery is not an easy task for many people. If you are among them, the convenience of a protein shake as a food supplement or in the post-workout period will help you.

Rather than rushing back home immediately after your workout to eat properly, NOW Whey Protein Isolate will win that necessary time for you. The dose, containing 25 grams of proteins, is sufficient to stimulate the protein synthesis immediately after your workout, just when most need it.

If your day is filled with movement and inability to eat regular meals, Whey Protein Isolate will patch these small cracks in the menu.

Suggested Use

Add 1 level scoop (32 g) daily to 8 oz of cold water, milk, or your favorite juice, and blend.

4) Naturally Flavored Whey Gold Standard

OPTIMUM NUTRITION GOLD STANDARD 100% Whey Protein Powder, Naturally Flavored Vanilla, 1.9 Pound (Packaging May Vary)

Optimum Nutrition Naturally Flavored Whey Gold Standard Overview

  • 24 g protein;
  • 5.5 g BCAAs;
  • 4 g glutamine & glutamic acid;
  • Naturally flavored;
  • No artificial flavors or sweeteners;
  • 100% of the protein from the whey;
  • Gluten-free;
  • Banned substance free;
  • 68 servings.

Optimum Gold 100% Natural Whey is a superb blend of high quality 100% whey proteins - whey isolate and concentrate. 100% soluble, easily breakable, with a refreshing taste. It stimulates muscle protein anabolism which increases muscle growth after training.

It also increases power and improves recovery by reducing pain and stiffness. Clinical tests show that whey protein is the most anabolic protein. The protein provides essential amino acids in the body; increases the natural protein synthesis and helps achieve a positive nitrogen balance.

What Are the Benefits of Optimum Nutrition

Optimum Gold Natural Whey is full of essential amino acids that help for better recovery and muscle growth. Studies have also shown that 100% Natural Whey Protein is one of the proteins with the highest content of amino acids.

Suggested Use

Add one rounded scoop of Gold Standard 100% Whey to a shaker filled with 6-8 oz of water or your favorite beverage. Shake 20-30 seconds. Consume enough protein to meet your daily protein requirements through a combination of high protein foods and protein supplements. 

For the best results, consume your daily protein allotment over several small meals spread evenly throughout the day.

5) Dymatize ISO 100 Whey

Dymatize Elite Casein Protein Powder, Slow Absorbing with Muscle Building Amino Acids, 100% Micellar Casein, 25g Protein, 5.4g BCAAs & 2.3g Leucine, Helps Overnight Recovery, Rich Chocolate, 4 Pound

Dymatize ISO 100% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate Overview

Dymatize Iso-100 contains:

  • Protein 25 grams;
  • BCAAs 5.5 grams;
  • Lactose 0 grams;
  • Fat 0 grams;
  • Sugars 1 gram;
  • Gluten-free;
  • Naturally & artificially flavored;
  • Pure hydrolyzed proteins;
  • The highest rate of absorption;
  • Maximum recovery and increase of muscle mass.

What Is Dymatize ISO 100

Dymatize ISO 100 is a high-end hydrolyzed whey protein isolate which helps the body maximize its recovery and increase its muscle mass. ISO-100 is composed entirely of hydrolyzed whey isolate which is extracted by a special technology through the use of enzymes. 

The result is a product with a high content of proteins, no lactose, other carbohydrates or fats.

Dymatize ISO 100 Is a Hydrolyzed Protein. What Are the Benefits

The hydrolyzed proteins in ISO 100 have been previously decomposed with the help of enzymes, as the amino acids therein are degraded to di- and tripeptides. This makes them very easy and quick to absorb. The result is a sudden flow of amino acids.

We know that the maximum usage of proteins is basic for muscle recovery and for the maintenance of the nitrogen balance, which is essential during periods of hard training. 

It is quite possible that there is no other protein with better quality than ISO 100, so you can be sure that you will put the greatest potential in your muscles. One dose of ISO 100 protein supplement contains the amazing 24 grams proteins, 0 grams fats, and 1 gram carbohydrates.

Suggested Use

Add one scoop (included) to 5-6 oz. (150ml-180ml) of water, juice or milk and mix thoroughly. For maximum results, use before and after workouts and at other strategic times daily.

6) MusclePharm Combat Casein

MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder, Essential Whey Protein Powder, Isolate Whey Protein, Casein and Egg Protein with BCAAs and Glutamine for Recovery, Chocolate Milk, 4-Pound, 52 Servings

What Is Casein Protein Used For

MusclePharm Combat Casein is a protein powder supplement that breaks down slowly and its release in the body can last up to 6 hours. This makes it ideal for replacing meals during the day or before sleep (for supplying the muscles at night).

​MusclePharm Combat Casein is characterized by:

  • 84% protein concentration, the highest concentration of casein on the market;
  • 25 g of proteins per dose;
  • Unique thick shake and amazing flavors;
  • Maximum saturation of appetite;
  • 46 doses per packaging;
  • Added enzymes.

What Are the Benefits of MusclePharm Combat Casein For Me

With every dose of Combat Casein, you get 25 grams of 100% micellar casein in a very tasty and easy to make a shake. It is specially designed for demanding athletes and people with active lifestyles. 

This is the best source of protein before bedtime. Combat Casein is enriched with digestive enzymes and you can rest and relax while the proteins do exactly what you want - restore and build your muscle tissues. 

​The protease in the product is needed for the protein breakdown, while lipase breaks down the tedious lactose which is the causative agent of stomach gasses caused by dairy products.

Suggested Use

Mix one scoop with 8-10 fl oz of water, milk, fruit juice, or your favorite beverage. Take MusclePharm's Combat 100% Casein before bad and between meals when slow-digesting protein is required.

7) ALLMAX Isoflex Whey Protein

ALLMAX Nutrition - ISOFLEX - 100% Ultra-Pure Whey Protein Isolate - Chocolate - 5 Pound

ALLMAX Isoflex Whey Protein Isolate Overview

  • 90% Protein;
  • Contains no gluten, fat or sugar;
  • Lab-tested & certified, guaranteed;
  • 27 g protein - 0 g sugars - 120 calories;
  • Tested free of banned substances;
  • Lab-tested - every ingredient - every lot;
  • cGMP certified facility;
  • Kosher dairy;
  • 100% soy-free;
  • 100% Whey protein isolate;
  • Native and intact - non-denatured;
  • HRI - filtration technology.

What Are the Advantages of Isoflex Whey Protein Isolate

ALLMAX’s Isoflex product claims to take the whey protein isolate (WPI) technology to a whole new level of measurable superiority. Isoflex is lower in fat, lactose, carbs, and sugars, compared to other whey protein product isolate powders. 

But What Does This Mean?

  • A 100% Source of Whey Protein Isolate;
  • Non-Denatured, Intact Whey Protein Fractions;
  • Laboratory-Tested, Certified & Approved 27 g Pure Protein Per 30 g Serving;
  • Hybrid Ratio Isolate - (HRI) - Ion-Filtration Technology.

My Impression of Using AllMax Isoflex Pineapple Coconut Flavor

My first impression when I opened the pot with protein was "I cannot believe it.” Instead of searching the scoop like a gold digger, I was surprised to find that the scoop has its special place above the protein powder.

Boom. One big point for AllMax. Upon opening the pot, you can smell the fine pineapple-coconut aroma. As I always do with a new protein product, I tried the powder.

This is the best tasting protein ever. The taste of pineapple and coconut is very light and mild. It doesn’t taste like a chemically flavored powder with heavy artificial compounds.

AllMax isoflex protein isolate dissolves very rapidly in water. Just a few shakes and your protein drink is ready. Honestly, this is the first protein powder that doesn’t give me the feeling of vomiting after drinking 2-3 sips.

​I think that the current price for an isolate powder with 90% protein concentration is affordable in comparison to the other brands’ isolate protein products.

Suggested Use

I mix 1 rounded scoop (30 g) with 150 - 200 ml of cold water with ice cubes. I don't use milk because I don't like the taste of protein plus milk mixed. The protein can be used as a meal replacement.

The best time to drink a protein shake for me is:

  • In the morning (because my first solid meal is around noon).
  • After a workout - the protein powder is the fastest absorbing protein by the body. Thus it is perfect for rapid muscle recovery. I drink the shake along with gummy bears.
  • As an additional source of protein, when I haven't had the time to eat enough protein from food.

8) MuscleTech NITRO-TECH Whey

MuscleTech Nitro Tech Ripped Ultra Clean Whey Protein Isolate Powder + Weight Loss Formula, Low Sugar, Low Carb, French Vanilla Swirl, 4 Pounds

The Purpose of MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Isolate

One of the things bodybuilders take very seriously is their specific choice of supplement. If whatever you're taking isn't going to help repair muscles while building more, it's not worth trying in the first place.

Unfortunately, the market has been flooded with empty promises, presented in the form of powerful supplements. But you'll be happy to know, MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Isolate isn't just some fly-by-night muscle builder.   

Before getting into why the supplement has been able to build up such a good reputation, it should be noted that the developer has been around since 1998. And from 2006, it has become one of the main suppliers of health supplements in the US. 

When looking at MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Isolate, you're looking at aid to help you build strength and muscle. It's packed with all the necessary protein to developed and strengthen your body. 

If you are following a strict and heavy protein diet, and you just want to tone your body a little, you don't need much else. But if you are serious about gaining muscle weight, especially in the areas that lose muscle over time, you might want to consider this protein supplement.  

But the reason why this particular supplement is so popular is due to the increased quality of whey protein. More specifically, it's 70% more effective than regular whey powder, and it was proven through an independent study.

​In fact, this is one supplement that has a lot of scientific facts to back up their claims. 

The Ingredients

Of course, the best way to know you are buying a quality product is to look at the ingredients. In the case of MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Whey Isolate, you don't have to worry about any proprietary blends, fillers, banned substances, or any type of hype.

It's simply a strong and effective combination of:

​(Per Serving)

  • 30 g of Protein;
  • 6.9 g of BCAAs;
  • 3.2 g of Leucine;
  • 3 g of Creatine;
  • 5.3 g of Glutamine.

And, of course, the whey protein used in this supplement basically outshines the competition. Thanks to this powerful combination, you can expect your body to go through a quicker recovery process, and you'll have enough protein to keep building strength and muscle. 

Best Way to Consume the Supplement

The best and most common way to consume the supplement is by mixing it with water or skimmed milk. And you should stick to the recommended dosage as well because this is a very potent mix.

​It should also be noted that the combination of creatine and protein has been clinically proven to give you a substantial boost, so pay attention to daily water consumption and maintain a healthy balance. 

Have Realistic Expectations

While the developer has an outstanding reputation for delivering effective health supplements, it's not a miracle cure for building muscles overnight. 

Individuals who have spent years developing their bodies know it takes time and consistency to get there, and no amount of supplements can replace it.

9) Orgain Organic Protein Plant Based

Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder, Creamy Chocolate Fudge - Vegan, Low Net Carbs, Non Dairy, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, No Sugar Added, Soy Free, Kosher, 2.03 Pound (Packaging May Vary)

Overview of Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Powder

With its refined packaging and unique taste, Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Powder has earned critical acclaim. This review will highlight its key features, advantages, and disadvantages before offering a final opinion on its legitimacy as a powder. 

  • 2.03 pounds in one container; 
  • Flavors include vanilla bean, peanut butter, natural unsweetened, iced mocha latte, creamy chocolate fudge;  
  • 100% organic; 
  • Vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, kosher; 
  • 150 calories per serving. 

Delicious

It doesn't matter which flavor you pick. The taste is out of this world. Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Powder is one of those top-tier powders that do everything spot on. 

Each flavor is unique, delicious, and easy to digest. There's nothing to be worried about with this fantastic powder. It's going to settle nicely on one's tongue.

100% Organic

With an organic powder, you have to make sure it's the real deal. There are too many scammers out there trying to market false organic protein supplements.

Is this one of them?

No, Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Powder is the real deal. The USDA approves it after detailed testing. This is a legitimate powder that's as organic as they come.

Easy to Digest

Yes, being able to digest the powder is a must, or you're going to hate it. This one is easy to digest and isn't going to get in the way of your routine. 

​In fact, it's perfect for athletes, students, and work at home moms. It doesn't matter who you are; this powder is a winner.

Conclusion

The Orgain OrganicProtein Plant-Based Powder is one of those products that get the job done. You will never need to go with another powder again.

This is 100% organic, delicious, and comes in beautiful packaging that's easy to the eyes. What more could you want?

10) Jarrow Natural Whey Protein

Jarrow Formulas Whey Protein, Supports Muscle Development, Chocolate, 32 Oz

Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein Product Overview

Milk contains a couple of proteins namely whey and casein. Whey, which is referred to as a complete protein, is full of as many as nine amino acids and it is low in the content of lactose as well.

You will come across a plethora of supplement manufacturers out there whose main intention is to make more efficient and enhanced whey powder formulas which will enable the users to receive an additional supply of protein without any need of consuming surplus food items.

​An effective way to improve your muscle mass using extra consumption of protein supplements will be by making use of the Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein which has become immensely popular at present. 

Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein Benefits

Jarrow Natural Whey Protein, which is marketed as an ultra-filtered whey protein derived from the milk of cow happens to be quite efficient without any content of allergens including gluten.

As a matter of fact, it will provide you with 4 grams of BCAAs as well as 17 grams net protein in every single serving which is more than adequate for developing muscles.

Although the supplement might not help to reduce your weight to a great extent, it has been asserted by the consumers that it really does help to control your urge for food in case you use the supplement between meals.

Furthermore, you will also be able to burn excess fat by developing your muscle mass. In fact, as much as 34% of the prescribed daily intake of protein is covered by consuming the supplement. On top of this, Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein helps to control your blood glucose levels as well. 

In general, it can be rightly stated that the supplement will help you to enhance your strength which will encourage you to perform a strenuous resistance training program. In short, the benefits of the supplement can be summarized as follows: 

  • An absence of any artificial sweetener, flavor or color;
  • No additional hormones;
  • Free from the presence of rBST;
  • Provides 4 grams of BCAAs per serving;
  • 100% natural and unflavored protein;
  • Whey Protein Formula which can dissolve easily.

Why You Should Use Jarrow Natural Whey Protein

The manufacturer claims that this protein is 100% natural and it is derived from naturally fed cows rather than the hormone-loaded ones. There is also 50 mg of good cholesterol present in this powder which consists of just 17% of the prescribed amount per day.

Moreover, the supplement happens to be rich in protein as well as calcium and low in carbohydrates as well.

​It is likewise packed with both essential as well as non-essential amino acids such as Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine, Arginine and so forth. Besides this, Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein is low in the content of sodium too. 

For Whom Is Jarrow Formulas 100% Natural Whey Protein Suitable

These protein supplements are primarily intended for the athletes, bodybuilders as well as fitness fanatics. Of course, anyone can give it a try since it is definitely one of the best testing as well as the most effective protein powders available at present.

​You can easily consume this with cereals, pancakes or even yogurt which will help to increase your intake of protein significantly.

Suggested Use

Mix one level scoop (provided in container) of 100% natural Whey Protein with 4 to 6 oz. of cold water, soy milk, juice or your favorite beverage.

For a protein smoothie, blend with crushed ice and add juice or fruit to taste. May also be used with cereals, yogurt or pancakes to increase the protein in the diet.


Protein Powder vs. Protein Foods

Protein powder products have been one of the most well researched and used sports nutrition products in the fitness industry. Protein as a dietary supplement has been used by hundreds of thousands of people as a meal replacement, muscle building supplement, and a low-calorie meal.

Because of its recent popularity among athletes protein price has increased greatly. I refer to this price effect as "a marketing price effect." Years ago, athletes and people who needed an additional source of protein could easily find cheap whey protein products.

But nowadays things have changed. It has become cheaper to eat meat than to take protein as a supplement. 

What makes us keep buying protein products is that they are very fast absorbed by our bodies which allows us to recover faster after a workout and to build lean muscle mass much faster. 

Check Out My Infographic: Protein Powder vs. Protein Foods

Protein Powder vs. Protein Foods

Now, if we do simple math, for example, 2.2 lbs of whey protein powder contain an average of 33 dosages, each containing between 22-24 g protein. 33 x 22 = 726 g of protein per 2.2 lbs of protein powder.

2.2 lbs of meat contain 230 g of protein (23 g of protein per 100 g meat). 726 g of protein is equal to 6.94 lbs of meat.

This proves that the protein from food is cheaper than the whey protein powder supplements. Before we dive deep into the list, let's see what do we know about proteins.

What Are Proteins

Structurally, proteins are composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. They may also contain cobalt, sulfur, iron, and phosphorus. All these elements, structured in a certain way, form the "building blocks" of proteins-the so-called amino acids. 

Or in other words, the protein molecule can be represented as a long sequence of amino acids, stacked together by peptide bonds. Amino acids are responsible for the restoration and growth of about 1 600 different protein structures, including muscles, hormones, enzymes, antibodies, hair, skin, etc.

What Are Proteins

What Types оf Protein Products We Can Find

The sixth most common types of protein you will see are:

Whey Concentrate

The concentrate contains an average of 80% protein content. This type of protein has "passed" the ultrafiltration process and has undergone some additional types of filtration. In general, we can say that they are the least processed whey proteins.

Whey Isolate

The isolate contains an average of 90% protein content, whey protein isolates contain the smallest percentage of impurities of all other types of whey products.

This is good news. And the bad news?

Whey isolate proteins are substantially free from vital peptides (lactoferrin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobulins, beta-lactoglobulin, etc.), which are attributed to astounding effects of the protein on human health.

Whey Hydrolysates

Hydrolysates are the most expensive option of all. In order to be produced, it is used extremely pure whey protein (high protein content) of micro - and macro filtration and then is passed through the hydrolyzing process to be break into smaller groups of amino acids or peptides.

The advantage of this protein is in the high absorption rate (time to reach the muscle fibers). On the other hand, this protein is denatured and there is no biological activity.

Casein

Casein is called the main milk protein, which reaches 80% of the protein in cow's milk. It is a valuable food supplying the body with amino acids, calcium, phosphorus.

The dignity of this milk protein is the long time required for absorption by the body. His status makes it an indispensable supplement providing a slow but steady stream of amino acids to nourish the muscle for a longer period - for example - at night.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is the only plant-based protein considered to be a high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids in the ratios needed to support growth and development.

However, studies have suggested that the phytoestrogens contained in soy protein lead to both unwanted decreases in testosterone and increases in the female sex hormone estrogen. This reason makes a lot of bodybuilders and athletes avoid soy protein.

Plant-based protein

These are proteins derived from plants such as pea protein, hemp protein, brown rice protein, etc.

Protein Sources

Essential amino acids are essential nutrients that makeup proteins. If taken alone (or as part of isolates and hydrolyzed proteins) there is a guarantee for quick digestion and absorption, and hence faster recovery and stopping of catabolic processes.

Three of the nine essential amino acids (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) are called Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).

Numerous studies show that extremely heavy or prolonged workouts, combined with a restriction of carbohydrates, make about 38% of all energy in the body acquired from the metabolism of BCAA.

This discovery (previously it was thought that the percentage is 15%-18%) seriously increases the significance of the three amino acids. BCAA (and especially leucine) are the preferred source of energy when there are no primary energy resources such as carbohydrates. 

"Extracted" from the muscular tissue, some of the amino acids are converted to alanine, which is transported to the liver and converted to glucose. It is assumed that supplementing with BCAA (up to 4 g) before and after exercise can dramatically reduce muscle breakdown. 

These are the advantages of the three fastest absorbing and hence particularly effective sources of proteins (free amino acids, hydrolyzed whey, and BCAA). A little deeper look, however, immediately shows us that things are not quite as they seem. 

Some healthy eating theorists consider that the digestive system manages and controls more rationally whole proteins than pre-digested ones. This is because the digestive system is made to processes whole foods, not supplements.

These considerations give ground to the authors to conclude that the biggest advantage of proteins and amino acids (as additives) is not the fact that they get absorbed much faster than food, or that can stimulate larger muscle growth (as compared to chicken meat or egg white).

Their advantage is at their convenience. Realistically speaking, there is still no scientific evidence to show that a person can not satisfy his/her protein needs for muscle growth solely through food. 

So, eating whole proteins (white meat, eggs, and dairy products) every three hours could be seen as a sure way to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. Food, as a source of proteins, has a significant advantage over supplements and this should not be underestimated. 

This is a so-called “thermal effect” or the ability of the food products to further stimulate the body’s metabolism. It has been shown that among all of the macronutrient elements, proteins have the highest thermal effect. 

Thus, when we eat food rich in proteins in our daily menu, we actually accelerate our metabolism by about 30% due to a large amount of energy, required for processing and absorbing proteins.

For example, if we consume a chicken steak, which should give us 100 calories, the actually acquired calories will be 70 after the food processing). 

The slow absorption of food sources, rich in proteins (compared with the reviewed supplements), appears to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage, especially when a person is on a low-carb diet.

How the Body Synthesizes Protein

Protein synthesis may occur only provided that our body has adequate amounts of essential and nonessential amino acids. When a certain essential substance lacks - the synthesis ceases.

Subsequently, the partially constructed proteins decompose and the amino acids go back into the bloodstream. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, amino acids cannot be stored or deposited for future use.

When the body has no existing need for "building material", the amino acids are directed to the liver, where they undergo the so-called deamination. Firstly, nitrogen gets removed from their structure, in the form of urea excreted by the kidneys.

The rest of the protein is converted into glucose and is used for energy (gluconeogenesis), or is transformed into fat/glycogen and stored for later use.

Although the synthesis of protein is of paramount priority, the body’s major goal is to ensure adequate sources of energy, needed to maintain blood circulation, respiration, and digestion.

When such energy resources are absent (for example carbohydrates and fats, absent on a low carb diet), the body resorts to the use of alternative sources, namely amino acids.

In order to provide enough energy for the proper functioning of numerous organs and cells, our body resorts to the process of gluconeogenesis – it degrades not only proteins but sometimes uses protein from the blood, liver, pancreas, and muscles to create energy.

This means that the protein breakdown (catabolism) will be much larger than the actual protein synthesis (anabolism). The way of utilizing an amino acid depends on the particular moment and the real need of the body.

How the Body Synthesizes Protein

The time after a heavy and intense workout, when muscles are prone to accept nutrients and the blood flow in the trained muscles remains high, creates an opportunity for muscle growth and recovery, the so-called “window of opportunity.”

Protein Synthesizes

Unfortunately, a diet rich in proteins, firsthand after exercise, is unable to take advantage of this "time window" and to provide amino acids for protein synthesis.

It usually takes more than 3-4 hours to allow food to be processed and utilized.

Protein and Its Absorption

It was found that besides the free amino acids, hydrolyzed protein and essential amino acids/ (BCAA) are the fastest absorbable substances. Hydrolyzed protein is usually an isolated whey protein, inside which peptide bonds between individual amino acids are destroyed, thanks to the process of hydrolysis.

This leads to better and faster absorption in comparison to other protein sources. The hydrolyzed whey, however, is not that popular mainly because of his terrible taste - so in most cases, it is combined with other proteins (as concentrate or casein).

Protein and Its Absorption

It is known that hydrolysis makes the whey bitter. Generally, the level of hydrolysis determines the bitterness of proteins - the more complete the hydrolysis, the bitterer the taste of proteins.

Typically, the level of hydrolysis of one isolate rarely exceeds 20% mainly because of two reasons - first, the hydrolysis is quite an expensive technology and, therefore, additional costs for the manufacturer occur. Secondly, the taste of the protein itself deteriorates quite a lot.

The main reason, however, (and this is an open secret) for the inability of a person to find proteins on the market that contain a high content of hydrolyzed whey, is because the supplement companies care more about the taste of the product rather than its effectiveness.

In most cases, the preservation of good taste is equal to receiving better profits.

The Proteins Way Into the Human Body

This is exactly why most bodybuilders are looking to dietary supplements. Studies show that one of the most reliable ways to deter catabolic processes and stimulate protein synthesis is the direct supplementation with free amino acids.

Their importance is mainly due to the fact that they are devoid of chemical bonds and by thus remain not tied with one another. Due to this fact, there is no need for them to be digested. They directly enter the small intestine, passing through the stomach.

There, as mentioned before, they are absorbed and distributed via the bloodstream throughout the body. This process continues for 15-20 minutes, i. e. the absorption of free amino acids is far superior by time compared to the usage of any other protein source.

Free amino acids have also another advantage. We can logically conclude that the intake amount of amino acids (as a supplement) and that of the protein consumed by a variety of food sources is equivalent and comparable.

The amount of daily intake of proteins-75 grams, for example, has until now been considered to replace the same amount of amino acids, taken as a supplement. This is not quite true.

Studies show that this 75 g of proteins from food sources could be adequately replaced by only 25 g  of free amino acids (of course, if we are talking about untrained individuals; an athlete will need much larger quantities).

This discrepancy, to some extent, is due to the fact that, before being a building material, the protein has to go through the above-described process of digestion and absorption. During this process, a portion of the protein remains unused, i.e. is lost in the digestive system.

Another important fact, worth noting, is that a very large dose of free amino acids will remain untapped if they are not directly used as a building material.

In this situation, many of them will be destroyed in the liver - they will be used for energy or stored as fat/glycogen (the same goes for proteins, taken in improperly large doses).

Interesting information: In the early 90s of the last century, the Bulgarian national weightlifting team initiated a study on how the intake of free amino acids stimulates and helps muscle growth.

The study ends with great success and even then a part of it is conducted again, but this time in Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center.

Why Should We Take Protein Through Food

Food, as a source of proteins, has a significant advantage over supplements and this should not be underestimated. This is a so-called “thermic effect” or the ability of the food products to further stimulate the body’s metabolism.

It has been shown that among all of the macronutrient elements, proteins have the highest thermal effect. 

Thus, when we eat food rich in proteins in our daily menu, we actually accelerate our metabolism by about 30% due to a large amount of energy, required for processing and absorbing proteins. 

The slow absorption of food sources, rich in proteins (compared with the reviewed supplements), appears to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage, especially when a person is on a low-carb diet.

Why Should We Take Protein Supplements

Lets briefly examine what happens to the proteins which we daily intake from a variety of food sources:

  • The food, that contains proteins, enters the digestive tract through the mouth and gets physically comminuted by the chewing processes.
  • After that, it enters the stomach and by the effect of a combination of acids and enzymes (preferably pepsin), secreted by the stomach walls, acquires the shape of a thick gelatinous mash, called chyme.
  • Here proteins split into individual peptide fragments or smaller structural formations made up of linked amino acids.
  • The digestion process continues in the duodenum. The depolymerization (fragmentation) of the proteins reaches its final phase under the influence of the trypsin enzyme.
  • The intermediate products of that digestion (performed in the stomach) dissociate into free amino acids. This is done by hydrolysis I e. inserting a water molecule between two linked amino acids. The final result is that the chemical bond between the acids breaks down.
  • After that, each amino acid enters the small intestine and is literally sucked from many finger-like appendages, located on the walls of the small intestine (absorption).
  • Through the process of absorption, the free amino acids enter the bloodstream and can now be used directly by the cells. Thus, the amino acids that were once part of proteins of animal origin get restructured into human proteins and are fully utilized for all body needs.

As already mentioned the free amino acids enter the bloodstream and are directly used by the plurality of cells for protein synthesis.

Another part of the amino acids continue their way to the liver and get involved in the production of specialized proteins, such as liver enzymes, lipoproteins, and albumin.

In Conclusion

That said, we can see the idea of the great distinction between various sources of proteins, depending on how quickly and effectively they are utilized. And the truth is that they complement each other.

Free amino acids, hydrolyzed whey, and BCAA are three sources of proteins that are digested very rapidly. Therefore, their intake immediately after training could contribute to the effective recovery of muscle tissue.

Conversely, food is a basic and irreplaceable source of proteins. So the choice of an additive or food product depends entirely on the present moment and the real needs of the body.

The remaining three macronutrients are carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and water. All of them are needed in large quantities by the human body, hence their name - macronutrient elements.

In contrast, microelements (vitamins and minerals) are needed in relatively small quantities. This is the reason why it is better to eat a variety of food sources of proteins.

That way you will avoid the chance of amino acid deficiency. When scientists discovered that there are two kinds of amino acids - essential and non-essential, they tried to implement this division (with all its conventionality) to proteins as well.

They divided proteins into two groups:

  • complete/intact proteins, i.e. having an adequate amount of all essential amino acids
  • incomplete/partial proteins in which some of these amino acids are missing.

Thus, the first major classification of proteins according to their amino profile was born. One could say that the term "predigested" is commensurate to most dietary supplements.

The term 'predigested protein' means that the protein has been subjected to partial digestion by enzymes treatment or other chemical processes. We are talking about a protein intake, which is not mandatory, but wishful by nature.

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