Well here it is, the much anticipated second half of our “Scoop on Protein” article. In part 1 we broke down protein and outlined some “need to knows” about protein quality, daily protein intake, and protein consumption per meal . We also discussed many variables that both Trainers and Clients should be aware of. Such as, the differences in protein requirements for athletes such as bodybuilders vs everyday gym goers. All of these things are extremely important to understand before attempting to move forward with protein recommendations for yourself or clients. If you have not read Part 1, jump over there real quick before you continue with this article.
Okay now that you’re ready to role with Part 2, in this article we want to focus on protein supplementation. Probably one of the most popular topics swirling around the gym is SUPPLEMENTS. I would say one of the single most asked questions I get in the gym would be “What supplements do you take?”. I find this especially interesting because, its almost as if they assume results are found in a pill or powder. It seems that the marketing of sports supplements has gotten so powerful that gym rats are convinced that they are the secret to their physical success.
First Things First
Supplement: Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. So to put it simply, supplement by definition is to “Supplement” an already healthy diet or workout routine. This is an important concept to grasp. The goal here is to not make workout supplementation the backbone of your training. It is simply there to help add to an already existing healthy diet and solid workout program.
Don’t get me wrong, I have found some great benefits to using certain sports supplements. With that being said however, it is far from the staple of my diet or reason for my success in the gym. It contributes a small percentage of added benefits to my already established training program and structured diet regimen
Sorry to harp on this, but before I go any further discussing the benefits of using Protein supplementation, I want to clear the air that this SHOULD NOT take priority over your diet. I can assure you that with whole food protein alone, you can achieve the same amazing results as with protein powders.
Introduction To Protein Supplements
Well protein powders are far from the new kids on the block. Everyone, including those that are not into the fitness life, know that supplemental protein is sold at almost all major stores. The slight problem is that there are many different kinds of protein to choose from. In this article I want to break down 3 of the most common protein supplements on the market.
Soy protein is derived from the soybean and is considered a “complete” protein. If you remember back in PART 1 of our protein article (read it here), a complete protein means that the protein source offers all 9 of the essential amino acids. This form of protein is nearly identical to other legumes. Soy protein is also considered one of the most inexpensive dietary proteins on the market.
When a soybean is dehulled and defatted it is broken down into 3 major forms.
Soy Flour: This is essentially ground up soybeans into a powder form. This comes in 2 forms “whole” and “full-fat”. Soy flour has roughly 50% protein content.
Soy Protein Concentrate: Concentrated soy protein basically comes from dehulled and deffated soy flour. This as a protein content of around 70% and can be found in many nutritional products such as breakfast cereals, baked goods, and even meat products.
Soy Protein Isolate: This form of soy protein is considered the highest quality. It is highly refined and is also derived from soy flour. The soy flour has had most all of the extra carbohydrates and fats removed. This is used often in sports supplement products.
Pros and Cons To Soy Protein
The Good News: Soy protein became popular by being touted as “heart healthy” and potentially cancer preventing. This claim was based on a meta analysis from a study that showed a correlation between soy protein and a significant decrease in serum cholesterol, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL or “Bad Cholesterol) and triglyceride concentrations. Because of this there was a petition to the FDA to make claims that soy protein may reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Another piece of good news is that because this complete protein comes from a plant based product, it is very much vegetarian friendly. Vegetarians can in some cases find it hard to consume enough complete proteins. Many plant proteins are considered incomplete due to their lack of essential amino acids.
Lastly, at one point it was thought that supplementing with Soy Protein would increase estrogen levels in males that took it. The reason behind this thought is that soy protein is high in estrogenic compounds such as genistein and daidzein; (soy isoflavins). The research regarding higher levels of estrogen in male due to soy is conflicting. A 2007 study by Goodin et al. reported a 4% drop in testosterone levels in males. This study however was refuted by the Miami Research Associates which found no change at all in testosterone levels while supplementing with soy protein.
The Bad News: Nearly a decade or so after the FDA claimed that soy protein was “Heart Healthy” the American Heart Association found that many claims regarding soys healthy benefits may not be backed up. The AHA found that supplementing with Soy Isoflavins do not reduce postmenopause “hot flashes” in women, nor do isoflavones help prevent cancers of the breast, uterus, or prostate.
The term casein was derived from the Latin word caseus, which means “cheese”. Casein is found in milk, it makes up nearly 80% of the protein in cows milk and around 25% to 45% of protein in human milk. Casein has a wide variety of uses including.
When discussing nutritional supplementation, casein offers us a very rich amino acid profile. Casein is very high quality and considered a complete protein source. Casein has an interesting ability to be none soluble. It forms a clot when ingested and therefore digests slow. Anyone that has every tried mixing this form of protein in water will quickly see a much thicker and dense consistency to the protein
Pros and Cons To Casein
The Good News: Casein is very rich in all the necessary amino acids and therefore is effective in muscle protein synthesis. In addition to this the gelling / clotting effect of the protein can allow for a better consistency in certain cooking recipes. For instance many people make puddings or even ice cream out of casein. Lastly, that same slow digesting property allows for more satiety. When consuming proteins such as whey, it seems to be in and out of your system leaving you hungry. Casein curdles in the stomach and leaves you more satisfied.
The Bad News: Casein doesn’t leave us with much bad to say. Though casein has been for years now thought of as the “Night Time Protein” there is some conflicting evidence. Popular claims are that casein keeps you anabolic through the night due to a slower release of amino acids in the blood stream while you sleep. Granted protein in the blood stream will keep you in an anabolic state, there are some conflicting studies that show that the rate of digestion may not have an overall impact at how much muscle you gain or lose. This meaning that even a quicker absorbing protein before bed would offer similar results as the casein.
Though casein has a more than impressive amino acid profile, it is not superior to whey protein. Casein falls slightly short on the essential amino acid leucine. Again, this is not saying casein isn’t effective, but the leucine content falls short of other proteins such as whey. This may overall effect the rate of protein synthesis. Our guess is however, that it is similar in effectiveness, but more casein would be needed to get the same benefit as a lower dose of whey.
Casein may also be higher in carbohydrates than other forms of supplemental protein. This is not always the case but if you’re looking for a leaner protein, casein may fall slightly short.
The most popular of dietary proteins, WHEY! Yes whey has made a good name for itself in the fitness arena. Athletes of all kinds have found benefits in this supplemental protein. Whey is essentially the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. 20% of the protein in cows milk is attributed to whey, while the other 80% is casein. In contrast 40% of human milk is whey protein. By far whey is most commonly used as a sports supplement and for good reason! whey protein 2
There are several different forms of whey
Concentrate: Whey protein concentrate is the base form of supplemental whey. This tends to be the cheapest option due to the fact that its not as filtered as other forms of whey. Whey concentrate has slightly less protein per gram due to the extra fats (still relatively low fat) and carbohydrates (in the form of lactose) left over in the processing. Whey concentrate can range from 29% – 89% protein by weight.
Isolate: Whey protein isolate on the other hand is a more filtered version. Most of the excess fat and lactose (even some vitamins and minerals in the process) have been removed. Isolates offer more protein per gram. Generally whey isolate contain around 90% available protein per gram.
Hydrolyzed: Finally hydrolyzed whey, this created when the amino acid chains in the protein are broken down into smaller chains called peptides. These are considered “pre-digested” and partially hydrolyzed. The purpose for this is for easier digestion. Unfortunately this form of whey is generally more expensive.
Pros and Cons To Whey
The Good News: Whey protein is an extremely high quality protein that supports an awesome line up of amino acids. In addition the essential amino acid leucine is especially high which may make this the ideal protein source to elicit protein synthesis. For those that are lactose sensitive whey protein isolates and especially hydrolyzed whey protein can be fairly low in lactose and may be consumed without concern. Whey protein is also a quickly digested form of protein. Some believe that this quick absorption can be ideal for post workout while cells tend to be sensitive to amino acid uptake. There is conflicting evidence surrounding this topic however. Many studies support that overall protein intake is most important and the rate of digestion won’t make a substantial difference. With that being said, whey protein tends to be easily digested and makes it a quick snack that won’t be overall filling like casein.
The Bad News: Whey protein may seem to be all positives BUT there are surely a few draw backs you should be aware of. As I mentioned above there are different qualities of whey, some of the base forms of whey such as Concentrate, can still offer a bit of lactose, this combined with other added ingredients may not treat everyone’s stomach the best. In addition if you have a dairy allergy, the concentrate and possibly some of the Isolates may effect you negatively. Lastely, each company that produces whey protein adds their own array of fillers. This can range from many different things such as added carbohydrates like dextrose, artificial sweeteners, etc.. Because of this, those people looking to be “all natural” with their diets may be opposed to this supplement.
The Fitness Trainer Academy Recommendations
DISCLAIMER: Remember that no matter what form of protein you choose, ultimately your overall protein intake is most important.
I will however be the first to admit we are biased to whey protein. When you line up all the forms of supplemental proteins, whey tends to stand above them all. Granted, each of these has their draw backs, but whey outshines most other proteins in the results category. Its high end amino acid profile and high leucine content makes it ideal for muscle protein synthesis.
The next step would be finding a whey protein supplement that you like. Truth is that all brands have a different ingredients, tastes, etc..
The Fitness Trainer Academy has partnered up with Cellucor. Cellucor offers a whey protein that has lived up to our standards. More than the quality though it is hands-down the best tasting protein we have tried. We did a supplement review with @PricePlow.com on the Cellucor Whey at their world headquarters. You can see the video below.