Protein is essential for muscle growth and maintenance, as well as being instrumental for weight loss. The use of protein powder supplements has become popular among gym-goers and the general public alike. While animal-based protein powder remains the most popular, many people are turning to plant-based versions.
Here we evaluate which is better; whey or plant-based protein powder. We’ll also review the 5 best protein powders on the market and answer the most common questions around protein powder.
What is Plant-Based Protein?
Plant-based protein powders are made from a range of plant-based sources including rice, peas, soybeans, and hemp. Often two or more of these sources are combined within one product.
“There are no dairy products in plant-based proteins, making them appropriate for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.”
Of all the plant-based sources of protein, only soy provides all nine of the essential amino acids. As a result, all other plant protein sources are considered to be incomplete sources of protein.
What is Whey Isolate Protein?
Whey protein is a derivative of the milk making process. Whey is contained in the milk liquids and is discharged during milk manufacture. For a long time, it was simply thrown away. Since the 1960s, though, it has been recycled for use in protein powders.
There are several types of whey protein on the market. One of the most popular is whey isolate, which is a more filtered form of standard whey concentrate. Almost all of the lactose and carbohydrates are removed so that it contains around 90% protein by weight. Because the proteins are broken down into smaller peptides, isolate is more quickly absorbed than concentrate.
The Best Protein Powder for Muscle Gain & Weight Loss
“In terms of gaining muscle and losing weight, whey isolate is better than plant-based protein.”
Whey isolate protein powder contains the nine essential amino acids, including the branch chain amino acids, which drive protein synthesis. Whey isolate is also very filling, helping people to control their calorie intake. That makes it a good protein powder to lose weight. In addition, whey isolate is a very fast absorbing protein source.
So long as it contains all of the essential amino acids, vegan protein can provide comparable muscle-building benefits to whey. Whey is slightly faster absorbing than vegan protein. However, vegan protein doesn’t contain the lactose that is in whey concentrate, so if you are intolerant to lactose, you may be better off with a vegan option.
How to Calculate your Daily Protein Intake
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight. People who are engaged in strength training workouts should increase this amount by 20-30% to meet their extra protein synthesis demands. You can use helpful calculators to calculate your RDA requirements for protein.
How to Take Protein Powder
The most common way to take protein powder is to blend it with milk or water to create a shake. However, it can also be added to desserts and baking recipes to enhance the flavor and increase the protein content. We love to stir a scoop of whey isolate into fat-free Greek Yogurt. Another favorite is to add protein powder to the pancake mixture. Here’s a simple pancakes with protein powder recipe to follow:
Pancakes with Protein Powder
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 tbsp vanilla protein powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp sweetener – xylitol
- pinch of salt
- Beat egg and add all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
- Use olive oil in a pan to cook pancakes until golden brown
- Garnish with plain yogurt and fruit with a sprinkling of chia seeds
The Best Protein Powders
1.Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Orgain Organic Plant-based protein powder provides you with a blend of various plant-based sources of plant-based protein to give you a complete essential amino acid profile. Each serving provides you with 21 grams of protein that is organic, gluten soy, and lactose-free. Along with that protein, you get 3.5 grams of fat and 15 grams of carbohydrates.
The high carb content in Organic protein powder Orgain means that this is not a good choice for people who are on the ketogenic diet or otherwise trying to restrict their carb content. Orgain is quite an expensive protein powder with the per gram breakdown working out to about 9 cents. Reviews for Orgain organic protein powder speak of the ease of mixing and smooth taste of this protein shake.
2.Premier Protein Whey Powder
Premier Protein is a 100% whey based protein powder. You get a massive 30 grams of whey protein, along with 1 gram of sugar and 150 calories, making this a great choice if you are trying to lose weight. There are no gluten or soy ingredients in this powder, which mixes easily in a blender or even with nothing more than a spoon and glass.
is a 100% whey based protein powder. You get a massive 30 grams of whey protein, along with 1 gram of sugar and 150 calories, making this a great choice if you are trying to lose weight. There are no gluten or soy ingredients in this powder, which mixes easily in a blender or even with nothing more than a spoon and glass.
3. Muscle Milk Pro Series Protein Powder
Muscle Milk Pro Series Protein Powder is the powdered version of Muscle Milk’s very popular ready-to-drink protein. With a huge 50 grams of whey protein per serve, this is one of the best value powders you will find on a per gram basis. It does contain 18 grams of fat per serve, which is quite high. Taken as a post-workout shake, however, those carbs will help replenish your exhausted muscle glycogen levels.
Muscle Milk Pro Series is an excellent source of potassium, with 705 mg per serve. It is also gluten-free and NSF certified for sport.
4. Bulk Supplements Whey Isolate 90%
- 30 gm protein per serve
- Great price
Bulk Supplements Whey Isolate 90% is a very pure source of protein, providing you with 30 grams of whey isolate per serve. It is a rich source of branch chain amino acids, including leucine, which is critical for muscle growth. With just 100 calories per serving, this is a very good protein powder to take if you are trying to lose weight. There are also zero carbs in this protein powder, making it ideal for people following a keto diet.
- 21 gm protein per serve
- Low carb
- Blend of several plant-based sources
PlantFusion Complete combines several vegan protein sources including artichokes, quinoa, and amaranth powder. This ensures that you get a complete amino acid profile. It uses all-natural sweeteners to deliver a great taste without compromising your health. This protein does an especially good job of mixing to provide you with a smooth protein drink that is free of clumpiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is protein powder good before a workout or better afterward?
Even though protein is necessary to repair and rebuild muscle tissue after a workout, research shows that it doesn’t matter if you take your protein powder before or after your workout. More important is your total daily protein intake. So, while protein is good before a workout, it is equally beneficial after training.
Should I drink a protein shake every day?
Taking a protein drink every day is a useful way to get quality protein into your body. This is especially useful if you are working out every day. However, you should not take more than one protein shake daily, as your body operates best on whole food sources of protein.
Are there any complications with protein powder?
Some people may experience problems with taking protein powder. Whey protein contains some peptides that can increase sebum levels, causing acne. The lactoferrin in whey concentrate can also cause gut upset in some people. Low quality protein powders may also contain such toxic compounds as lead, mercury, and arsenic.
Is whey protein isolate bad for you?
Whey protein is not bad for you if it is taken in recommended doses. However, people who are lactose intolerant or who have dairy product allergies should not take whey protein. Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort when taking whey protein but this does not appear to have long-term effects.
Which protein powder is easier to digest?
Whey protein isolate is the easiest protein to digest. Whey contains all of the essential amino acids and breaks down easily in the body, being absorbed much faster than casein or plant-based protein powders.
The choice between taking a plant-based or a whey isolate protein may depend upon a person’s ethical views, as well as a comparison of the benefits of each. If you are opposed to taking animal products, plant-based proteins will satisfy your extra protein ends. However, if you are happy to take dairy protein, whey isolate will deliver a more complete amino acid profile and is more readily absorbed into the body.