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Which ‘whey’ to go? A definitive guide to protein supplements

Protein supplements are a gateway to improving performance while building a stronger physique

Tarek Yacoub

Published: Updated:

For many, protein supplements are a gateway to improving performance while building a stronger physique. But that ubiquitous love for protein needs to be outlined clearly in order to understand what works and what doesn’t for the body.

The average (active) Joe will need between 100-150 grams of proteins a day and about 56 grams for the sedentary person. How can you bulk all of this protein from your daily meals and which supplements work best? Unfortunately there’s no ‘one protein to rule them all,’ so you’ll have to experiment which one is more likely to work for you.

Here are the three essential protein groups:

Whey

Whey is the most popular among fitness fanatics and athletes – and for a good reason. It’s digested by the stomach quickly. It’s a semi-pure liquid byproduct of cheese production and is abundant in Leucine amino acid which plays a vital role in protein synthesis.

It’s best taken post-workout as it boosts blood flow to muscle fibers, hence enhancing the delivery of nutrients.

Whey comes in two refined forms, isolate and concentrate.

Whey Isolate has a larger amount of protein content and is lower in carbohydrates, fat and lactose. The downside is that it’s slightly expensive due to the manufacturing process it undergoes. On the other hand, Whey Concentrate has a high amount of lactose and fat among a diversity of compounds such as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which are believed to help fight diabetes as well as regulate lipid metabolism – a process in which fatty acids (lipid and cholesterol) are broken down to be stored as means of energy by the body.

Casein

Known as the second most-preferred powder supplement, Casein protein is also another dense form of milk derivative. Casein is absorbed slowly in the body thus allowing prolonged muscle rehabilitation during sleep.

Like Whey, it is a good post-work out powder to have when you’re looking for slow and steady stream of amino acids in your bloodstream. For resistance athletes, this is the protein to seek due to its anti-catabolic abilities.

According to a study conducted by Maastricht University in Netherlands, taking Casein will likely increase your odds of losing fat while attaining that feeling of fullness in your stomach. So there’s no need to bulk up with unnecessary calories when you can have it in a scoop.

Creatine

Creatine is one of most controversial supplements and most talked about today. Unfortunately there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about its use.

It’s great especially when it comes to building strength, improving anaerobic endurance, and aiding the process of healing after workouts quicker as it stimulates tissue repair. Also, like Whey protein, Creatine comes in various forms, Monohydrate being the best one.

Creatine should be taken while having your workout meal to ensure maximum performance.

It also contains Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) like Leucine which enhances the metabolic rate of the body as nutrients are diverted from the bloodstream directly to the muscles and do not undergo filtering through the kidney.

That said, most of these supplements comes with artificial sweeteners. Finding ones which does not have any is like searching for a leviathan.

Remember, if you can stimulate muscle development with a well-balanced diet, there’s no need to use supplements. If you however reached a plateau and want to push yourself further, choose what works best for you and speak to a nutritionist and personal trainer for further information.