Protein is one of the essential substances that are necessary for the human body, which we all know that we get it from food.
A protein consists of amino acids connected in a polymer chain.
Some of them could be synthesized by the human body on its own, some can only be absorbed from food.
Proteins perform many different functions in the body, one of the most important is muscle building.
In fact, muscle cells are composed of amino acids.
Therefore, it is so important to consume enough protein when you are on bodybuilding workout aiming at building muscles.
On average, the daily protein intake is 2-3 grams per 1 kg of body weight for an adult male and 1.5-2 grams per one kilogram of body weight for women.
Sometimes it may be difficult to get this amount of protein solely from food that is why it is worth resorting to the help of sports nutrition.
In order to understand which protein powder is the best for muscle growth, let’s see what are the most popular types of protein and their differences.
This is the most well-known and deservedly loved by athletes type of protein.
Eggs were a favorite source of protein for athletes at a time when there was no special sports nutrition.
Albumin egg white contains the maximum necessary amino acids for the body, is absorbed quickly enough, is accessible and convenient to use.
It is rightfully the best protein to gain mass, with a relatively high biological value (whole egg – 100, egg white – 88).
The only drawback of egg protein is its price since the production of sports nutrition from eggs requires high accuracy and great production efforts.
Therefore, this type of protein is not so popular among ordinary athletes.
This is, perhaps, the most popular type of protein, due to the fact that it is a complete protein meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that our body can not synthesize on its own and thus, must be supplied in the diet.
Whey protein is made from whey, which is a by-product of cheese production and has the highest biological value (130).
It has a good amino acid profile, which means that it is saturated with all the amino acids necessary for muscle building, including the indispensable BCAAs.
In addition, in whey protein, amino acids are already ready for absorption by the body.
There are three types of whey protein: whey concentrate, isolate and, finally, hydrolysate that together form a kind of evolutionary pyramid of whey protein.
1. Whey Concentrate
The molecule of protein is quite large, so it is difficult for the body to absorb it.
That is why whey protein undergoes several steps of treatment, and whey concentrate represents the first step in protein purification.
It contains lactose and some amount of fats. Compared to the others, this is a more budgetary type of whey protein, but the quality is not worse than other forms.
2. Whey Isolate
Whey isolate is, in fact, the same whey concentrate that has been through one more step of purification. It is usually absorbed faster, the nutritional value is slightly higher.
3. Whey Hydrolysate
To facilitate the absorption of a protein, its molecules are split during hydrolysis under the action of acids or enzymes on amino acids in the form of di- and tripeptide bonds, which accelerates protein absorption and ensures rapid growth and restoration of muscles.
Thus, the body receives a protein that is ready for absorption and whey hydrolyzate allows you to save time because it almost instantly enters the muscles.
It is important to note that a protein hydrolyzed by enzymes preserves the amino acid profile better than other forms of whey protein.
This makes whey hydrolyzate the ideal product in sports nutrition.
Whatever form of protein you decide to chose for yourself, overall, whey protein is absorbed very quickly, therefore it is relevant to consume it right before or after you have finished your workout, to help restore muscle tissue.
Casein is a complex protein that is obtained from cow’s milk by curdling. It makes up almost 80% of milk protein, while the remaining 20% is whey protein.
The unique ability of casein to fold into balls in the stomach slows down the process of digestion.
Due to this fact, casein protein very often is called “slow” protein, when getting into the stomach, forms clots that break down during a long period of time.
In this regard, it is also popular due to the fact that it can be used to prevent catabolic processes (muscle destruction), including at night.
Some athletes take casein throughout the day in order to feel full, and in order to maintain a constant supply of proteins to provide the muscles with the necessary substances.
It eliminates the feeling of hunger, and therefore, it is also relevant for weight loss. Although, it is best to use it for muscle growth.
Another positive feature of this type of protein is that it contains a high concentration of glutamine, which supports the immune system. Moreover, it qualitatively improves the recovery process.
Casein protein is indispensable especially for those who are allergic to whey and egg proteins. It has a relatively lower biological value (77) if to compare with other types of protein.
Due to the fact that casein protein is considered to be a slowly-digestive protein, it is best to consume it at bedtime, which activates anabolic processes and prevents the destruction of existing muscle fibers.
Thanks to the gradual breakdown of casein, the muscles are fed throughout the night and are able to grow while you sleep.
In fact, this is a mixture of casein and whey protein in a ratio of 4 to 1.
Obviously, it has the advantages of both whey and casein protein, however, due to the high content of lactose, not everyone can use it.
Beef protein can be a great alternative to whey protein for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
Beef protein is a source of high-quality protein and nutrients and this is the type of protein that I personally prefer to use.
Like whey protein, beef is also a source of complete protein and it is a rich source of Niacin, Vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
Beef is the most significant source of carnitine and a great source of creatine.
At the same time, not all beef is created equal. There are different methods that are used to raise beef cattle, and these methods affect the quality of the meat.
If you want the best quality beef (whether it is meat or beef protein supplement), look for grass-fed or organic beef, these being the most desirable as they don’t contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs.
Important Note: In addition to protein, complex carbohydrates must be on the menu to provide the body with enough energy for intense workouts. In their presence, the protein is broken down into amino acids that are used for the construction of new muscle cells. Otherwise, the body will simply digest most of the protein and the effect will not be so noticeable.
Plant-based protein is loved by vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance. Soybean protein is one of the most popular representatives of plant-based protein.
Compared to other types of protein, it has low-cost production and is widely used for feeding cattle as well as in sports nutrition.
Soybean protein is a complete protein since it provides all of the essential amino acids for human nutrition.
However, if to compare with other types of protein, soy protein has the lowest biological value (74).
Soy protein can be consumed both before and after training. It is also possible to use it during the day in order to provide the body with the necessary protein. It is preferable not to take it before bedtime.
So the answer to the question which protein is better: soy or whey, or casein among athletes is unequivocal: unless you are a vegan, then it is better to choose other types of protein rather than soybean protein.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are several types of protein that you can take in order to grow muscle mass.
However, when deciding about what type of protein to take, always take into consideration your individual features and preferences.
You can use both different types of protein, consuming them at different times of the day, or stop on one single protein.
If you are just starting out and you are not sure what protein to take, I always recommend choosing a sports nutrition program individually, in consultation with a trainer and/or medical nutritionist.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know better what is the best protein powder for muscle growth.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.
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All the best,