Traditionally, animal-based proteins have been the go-to supplement for anyone interested in optimizing protein intake. Whey protein dominates the options, and is generally considered the “gold standard” for meeting the complete protein needs of all the essential amino acids in adequate amounts.
There are three basic forms of whey protein:
- Whey protein isolates yield a higher percentage of pure protein, and can be filtered enough to be free of lactose, carbohydrates, fat and cholesterol. This means everything beneficial about the protein is left intact, while removing most of the unwanted leftovers. It is the most expensive, but has the highest level of bioavailable protein.
- Although whey protein concentrate is usually the better-tasting of the three and usually the least expensive because it requires the least amount of filtration, it also has the highest lactose (milk sugar) and fat content of the whey proteins.
- Whey protein hydrolysate is a pre-digested form of whey protein, usually from isolate, that utilizes enzymes to partially hydrolyze or digest the protein. This protein has the least amount of fat and is lactose-free. It is widely considered to have the least favorable taste.
Some downsides are noted by users and researchers. Whey protein can be difficult to digest for some individuals, leading to flatulence, diarrhea and bloating. Some whey proteins are heavily processed, which can degrade the nutritional quality. Additionally, to make whey palatable, some manufacturers fill whey products with artificial sweeteners.
Although whey protein is still the current market leader, plant proteins are gaining share. Pea and rice proteins are viable alternative sources of protein. With careful attention, they can supply a balanced, full-spectrum of amino acids in a highly absorbable, bioavailable form. For vegans and those allergic to certain animal-based proteins, they offer a practical alternative.
Pea and rice proteins are easily digested and assimilated. They digest slowly to give a long-lasting protein/amino acid benefit to support lean mass, including bone, muscle, connective tissue and all other tissues of the body. High-quality pea and rice proteins are processed at a low temperature to ensure easy digestion and rapid absorption.
Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of protein sources in INSIDER’s Protein Innovation Digital Magazine.
Jack Grogan is chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition. He is a recognized expert in hair mineral analysis, a tool in determining the causes of nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. With considerable experience in the fields of biology, biochemistry and nutrition, he has been influential in the development of hundreds of proprietary nutritional formulas and programs.