It’s arguably the most basic thing you learn when you want to start building your muscles – they need protein to grow. While you may be able to list foods that contain ample amounts of protein, you may not realize that different types of protein have different effects on your body.
Explore the differences between major types of powdered protein and consider which ones you want to implement in your diet plan.
The Smoothie – A Fitness Gamechanger
After bursting onto the West Coast health food scene in the 1930’s, smoothies have evolved into a staple for fitness enthusiasts of all types. Whether you want to shed a few pounds or are a hardcore athlete who needs to consume hundreds of grams of protein, smoothies are a convenient way of getting the nutrients you need. Combining fresh fruits, veggies, and protein powders can ensure that you’re taking in only the best ingredients that will enhance your health and boost your performance.
Advantages of the Smoothie
If you’ve not experienced the ease and benefits provided by a perfectly customized smoothie or protein shake, then we recommend that you find a blender and give it a shot. Here are some reasons why smoothies are an excellent option:
- Can be high-protein, low-carb, or whatever you want
- Smoothies can function as a pre or post workout supplement or a fat burner
- Fully-loaded smoothies are great meal replacements when losing weight
- Multiple powders can be combined into smoothie form
- A good bottle ensures that your smoothie is highly-portable
- There are virtually infinite combinations for protein shakes and smoothies
Protein in Powder Form
As smoothies started to surge in popularity, protein powders experienced a major boost in the 1970-1980’s. Today, you can get a wide range of protein powders in different types, flavors, and combinations. While some contain sugar and additives to enhance their flavor, others focus on natural and organic ingredients. One universal advantage of protein powder is that it can often be more affordable and convenient than consuming food proteins, although most people continue to use both types.
Protein-Related Terms to Know
These words will come up repeatedly in your search for protein powders.
Isolate (as in Soy Isolate)
To use soy as an example, most proteins can be purchased in three forms. Soy isolate is an attempt to remove the other ingredients from soy and to maximize the amount of protein. Since soy isolate does contain a higher level of protein, it makes a significant difference in the amount you consume.
Proteins labeled “concentrate” are typically a great deal with excellent results. For example, concentrated versions are less expensive than other variations because they go through less processing than other types. Nonetheless, concentrated versions typically contain a greater amount of protein, with only trace amounts of fats and sugars.
Most protein powders contain secondary ingredients which are added for flavor or as part of the blending process. Lipids are essentially just sugars, and keeping protein powders low in sugar is one of the biggest challenges for manufacturers. No matter your fitness goals, choosing a protein powder that is low in sugar is an excellent idea.
When you get dairy-based proteins especially, then they’re likely to contain some amount of lactose. While you’ve probably heard the term “lactose-intolerant”, lactose is simply the type of sugar that is found in milk and dairy products. If you’re looking for a vegan protein, you’ll want no lactose whatsoever in your powder.
3 Types of Plant-based Protein Powder
Ideal for vegetarians, vegans, and those who want a clean source of protein, plant-based proteins are becoming more prevalent than ever. Explore the differences among the top three types and see which one sounds best for fueling your next workout.
1. Soy Protein
As one of the most versatile vegetables in existence, it’s no surprise that soy also makes for an excellent protein powder. One unique trait of soy is that, along with hemp, it contains all 8 essential amino acids. Plus, soy is rare as a protein because it provides antioxidant benefits and contributes to heart health. If you’re concerned about how processed soy tends to be, then choosing a soy isolate protein will deliver the protein you need in the safest possible form.
Breakdown of Soy Protein
- Contains all 8 Essential Amino Acids
- Provides antioxidant benefits
- Contributes to heart health
- Brand Recommendation: Soy Pro – Universal Nutrition Advanced Soy Protein
2. Pea Protein
Did you know that peas are a potent source of protein? With 8g of protein per cup, these tiny green veggies pack a punch and are a great choice for plant-based protein powders. One unique aspect of pea protein is that it contains glutamic acid, which helps you break down carbs before they can turn to fat. Since pea protein is plant-based, then it’s an incomplete protein, which means it is best paired with other types.
Breakdown of Pea Protein
- Contains glutamic acid which aids carb absorption
- Used by companies like Bhu Foods in their Vegan Protein Bars
- Best combined with other types of plant protein
- Brand Recommendation: NOW Sports Pea Protein
3. Hemp Protein
The hemp plant is used in everything from sweaters to food, and hemp protein powder contains nice advantages that aren’t found in other types. First, hemp is full of fiber which contributes to health and weight loss. Hemp also is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids that are vital for your health, and are excellent for reducing inflammation. Another advantage of hemp protein is that it’s easily digestible compared to most other proteins.
Breakdown of Hemp Protein
- Hemp protein is rich in fiber which aids weight loss
- Omega-6 fatty acids help reduce inflammation
- Easily digestible form of protein
- Brand Recommendation: ONNIT Hemp FORCE
Supercharge Your Smoothies with Plant Protein
Smoothies provide the advantage of letting you custom blend the ingredients you need and consume them fast. If this means extra protein, then there are numerous protein powders of varying flavors that can give your smoothie the boost it needs. Whether you opt for the easily digested hemp or the extra carb absorption inherent in pea protein, each of these has unique characteristics that you can use to take your smoothie to the next level.