Protein powder explained: what are the differences?

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Protein powder

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What are the differences between protein powders?

It’s easy to get confused about which protein powder you should be using and when. In this article we will explain the differences between various protein powders and how to use them effectively.

Whey protein concentrate

This is the protein most people are familiar with. It normally has around 80% protein content and is packed full of muscle building amino acids and whey peptides. Whey protein concentrate digests relatively quickly but not as fast as whey isolate.

Advice: Whey protein concentrate can be used in numerous situations. This is because it doesn’t digest so fast that you’re left without amino acids after 30 minutes but doesn’t take hours to digest either. Whey protein concentrate can be used first thing in the morning, pre and post training, or during the day as a quick snack.

Whey protein isolate

This is the purest form of whey protein. It contains very little fat and sugar which allows the body to digest it much faster than whey protein concentrate. However, this increased refinement also means it has a lower amino acids profile than whey protein concentrate.

Advice: Due to its low sugar and fat content whey protein isolate is very useful for people who are dieting or working towards a fat loss goal. It also digests rapidly, so is perfect post-workout.

Hydrolyzed whey protein

This type of protein has been pre-digested in a lab before it reaches your shaker. The ‘hydrolysation’ process involves the breakdown of proteins into individual peptides which do not have to go through your body’s digestive processes. This allows them to be delivered to the muscles straight away.

Advice: This is generally the most expensive protein powder, largely due to the amount of work it takes to develop. Hydrolyzed whey protein is a brilliant product to use intra-workout because its immediate digestion provides the muscles with vital amino acids during training.

Micellar casein protein

Micellar casein is the slow coach of the group. It releases its amino acids in a steady and sustained way, unlike other proteins. Micellar casein is made up of ‘micelles’, very small globules that take much longer to digest than whey protein

Advice: Take this protein right before you go to bed. Micellar casein will supply your muscles with amino acids right through your sleep. Other protein powders will leave your body starved of aminos until the morning.

Our take

We recommend everyone invests in a micellar casein protein powder. No other protein powder or blend can do the job it does at night.

Buying all the other individual protein powders can be useful if you are tailoring your supplement regime to specific goals. However, many brands have combined these different protein types into quality blends which can be more convenient.

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