“Whey-ing” the Different Types of Protein – A Simple Guide 101

One of the most common questions that I receive from people who begin working out is:  What kind of protein should I take??

With sooo many brands out there on the shelves it’s hard to pick just one!  Here is another simple guide on the different types of proteins and their functions, so you can determine which is BEST FOR YOU, dependent on your GOALS.  I’ll include my personal opinion on each.

1.   WHEY PROTEIN – The kind you see everywhere with all sorts of different types – mind boggling right?  Whey protein is derived from the process of turning milk into cheese.  It is considered a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids.  Some people don’t like whey because it contains lactose, which causes some folks an upset stomach 💩.  So from this basic protein, it can be processed even further to reap benefits for specific goals.

1a.  Whey Concentrate – processed even more to have an average of 80% protein
1b.  Hydrolyzed Whey – processed by hydrolysis and has an average of 85% protein
1c.  Whey Isolate – has an average of 95% pure protein and is best suited for those who are lactose intolerant; great for those who’s goal is to gain lean mass

If you’re looking to add a well balanced meal replacement, then find a whey protein that has roughly 60% CHO, 20-30% PRO, 10-15% FAT.  This is also good if you’re looking to replenish post-workout, without specific goals for lean mass or to bulk up.  For weight loss I would find a good isolate whey.  Ultimately brands don’t really matter because it’s the nutrients you’re looking at.  Read your ingredients and nutrition label.  They should all be similar across the board.  

2.  CASEIN PROTEIN – This protein steadily releases amino acids in the body and is absorbed slowly from the body.  People typically drink this before bed to aid recovery and suppress late night hunger cravings.  If you are on-the-go and in a hurry in the mornings, this might also be good to have as a breakfast shake to prolong your hunger until lunch time.

I think this is good for those who work late at night and don’t want to eat a full meal before bed.  Or like I said above, for those who are in a rush in the morning.  Personally, I have not consumed casein.  Dinner time is usually the only time I can actually eat whole foods and prefer that than a powder.

3.  SOY PROTEIN – The choice protein for vegetarians derived from the soybean plant and includes all essential amino acids.  Soy contains isoflavones which have antioxidant benefits, improve cholesterol, and heart health.

These are decent if you’re vegetarian or trying that route.  It has a grainy feel as you’re ingesting it, and it’s difficult to find a good taste; however, I’ve found that Vega One is fairly good.


4.  EGG PROTEIN – Derived from egg whites with high quality protein, it is considered second to whey protein.  Great for those who are also lactose intolerant.

I have no personal experience with this one.  Probably good to experiment with but I enjoy whey protein quite fine.  Just a different source of protein.

5.  HEMP PROTEIN – A plant-based protein that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  No you cannot get high off of this.  Another vegan friendly protein.

I think most plant based proteins have a grainy feel to them.  I tried this once.  I think people are just trying to discover the newest trend in protein at this point.

6.  MASS GAINER PROTEIN – Mostly whey protein that has a high content of carbs to bulk up and gain weight.

What type of protein you need is truly dependent on your goals and lifestyle.  Everyones’ preference is different, hence the multiple options.  I would first consider finding a brand that TASTES GOOD.  Although brands don’t matter when it comes to the TYPE of protein, it does however, matter in the taste.  Some companies put in great effort for a great tasting product (more expensive) while others taste like crap (less expensive).
That takes a lot of trial and error and trying your friend’s protein to find something that tastes good.  Also, if you purchase at GNC, you can return the product even if it’s open within 30 days with your receipt.  So if your giant tub of protein is too much and tastes disgusting, you can return it and try again!  A friend of mine told me that and I was ecstatic!
Once you find a decent tasting brand, stick to it, then ask yourself:
Am I trying to maintain?
Am I trying to lose weight?
Am I trying to gain weight?
Do I need more lean mass?
Am I vegan/vegetarian?
Am I lactose intolerant?

With the process of elimination, you’ll narrow down the type of protein you need.  This is where my writing stops because no one wants to read a book right now.  I hope this clarifies the very BASIC information on the different types of proteins.  I’ll expand on this in my future articles on:  protein timing (FAQ: How long after a workout should I drink a protein shake?) and protein requirement (FAQ:  How much protein should I take?).

On that note, check out this website for personalized daily nutrition requirements:  Dietary References Intake  It is an awesome tool to calculate what you need each day based on your personal profile!

Want to add your personal experience?  Comment below!


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