Whey – complete protein made from milk that is easily digestible (unless you have a lactose allergy). Whey can limit muscle breakdown and help with muscle repair and rebuilding, especially when consumed within 60 minutes of your workout. Look for whey protein isolate and not concentrate as it has the highest protein concentration and very little fat.
Casein – Another milk protein, casein is absorbed by the body much more slowly than whey. This is a good choice for meal replacements, which helps you stay full longer or take right before bed when it will supply the body with protein throughout the night when you enter a catabolic state. One downside is that it does not mix well with liquids. Look for calcium caseinate on the label to ensure you are getting the purest form.
Soy – As a complete plant-based protein, soy is a great option for vegans or anyone who is lactose intolerant. However soy consumption in women with a history of estrogen positive cancer is linked to an increased risk in breast cancer. If you choose to consume soy, do so in moderation.
Brown Rice – While rice is mostly composed of carbohydrate, it contains a small amount of protein, which is extracted to create brown rice protein. Since it is plant based, it’s not a complete protein, so pair it with other plant-based proteins like hemp or pea powder to complete the essential amino acid profile. Brown rice protein is hypo-allergenic and easily digested.
Pea – This plant based protein is highly digestible and has a fluffy texture. Since it is plant based, it isn’t a complete protein so it needs to be paired with other vegan sources of protein, like brown rice or hemp.
Hemp – A near complete plant based protein, hemp offers the inflammation fighting of omega-6 fatty acids and it’s high in fiber, it’s a great choice of those following a vegan diet.
The Bottom Line………
Dairy based proteins like whey and casein are great choices for their muscle building benefits as well as availability of zinc an iron if you are not vegan or suffer from allergies. However there is a strong case for integrating plant based proteins into your diet as they are easily digestible and have been proven to fight inflammation and reduce muscle soreness more effectively than dairy proteins.
Since one plant based powder alone won’t offer a complete protein, look for a product that combines several to create a full amino acid profile such as Plant Fusion or Vega One brands which provide complete proteins, omega-3s, probiotics, greens, and antioxidants in one serving.