Nowadays, the markets are loaded with a variety of protein formulas. Each variety has a different composition offering its own set of salient features and benefits. Some formulas use a single protein while others are a blend of proteins. The most common types of proteins used in these formulas are whey, casein, soy, and egg proteins.
The type of protein best-suited for you would depend upon your age, gender, lifestyle, and medical history. Any person who is not able to meet his protein requirements through diet can opt for protein supplements. The only care to be taken is that adequate amounts of water (2-3 liters per day) should be drunk daily.
Whey is undoubtedly one of the most popular proteins in sports nutrition. An excellent balance of essential amino acids and active biological compounds makes whey superior to any other protein supplement. Whey is the highest quality protein known to man. It is an ideal supplement for weight trainers, body builders, and athletes.
This protein supplement, which contains branched chain amino acids, is directly absorbed into the muscles. It speeds up recovery and enhances muscle mass after exercise. The commercially available whey supplements provide around 20-40 grams of protein. They are offered as hydrolysates, concentrates, and isolates. The best time to consume whey is after a workout.
Casein is a milk protein. It is referred to as an “anti-catabolic protein because it forms a gel-like substance in the stomach and slows digestion and gastric emptying. This releases a steady supply of amino acids into the bloodstream, keeping the body in an anabolic state. It sustains the body with a regular supply of amino acids for at least seven to eight hours, and hence it is best consumed at bedtime. Taking casein after an exercise regime may be a bad choice, as following a workout the body requires a fast absorbing protein to maximize muscle buildup.
Soy protein is the sole protein that is derived from a vegetarian source, i.e. soybeans. It contains negligible amounts of fat, cholesterol, and lactose. It is a complete protein, good for people with diabetes and heart disease. Since it is not derived from milk or milk products, it can be safely consumed by even the lactose intolerant.
The assimilation rate is somewhere in between whey and casein and is digested at a moderate pace. Further, it contains saponins, which have been proven to lower the cholesterol levels by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol. It also confers the benefits of naturally occurring calcium, iron, and soya isoflavones.
Egg protein is considered to be one of the best forms of complete natural protein. This protein has a biological value of 100 and also has the highest amounts of alanine, arginine, glycine, and methionine. Egg supplements are derived from egg whites and contain very low amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and cholesterol. They do not contain lactose; and therefore, people suffering from lactose intolerance can consume them without any risk of any adverse effects. Like soya protein, egg protein is digested at a moderate pace and can be taken at any time during the day.