Protein is an essential nutrient for everyone, whether they’re looking to stay healthy, lose weight or build muscle. In addition to providing the body with the ability to grow, protein offers energy that won’t be turned in to fat, which makes it a great alternative to high-carbohydrate foods.
Often hailed as the ‘best’ form of protein, whey protein has several properties that give it an advantage over other types of protein. Whey is fast-acting, meaning that it dissolves and enters the blood stream at a much quicker rate than other proteins, usually giving the body energy as fast as 20 minutes after ingesting it. It is also considered a complete protein, meaning that it has all of the amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, which makes it perfect for muscle building and exercise. Whey protein makes up about 20% of the protein in milk, and can be purchased in bulk form by itself.
Casein makes up the other 80% of protein in milk, and is often considered to be the slowest-acting form of protein, because it takes longer than whey or soy protein to digest. This makes it common to consume casein post-workout, even though most casein is taken as part of a balanced diet in the form of dairy milk.
Eggs are often considered to be one of the most healthy forms of protein, because they contain virtually all of the amino acids used in the human body, and they offer a speed of digestion of about two or three hours. Since egg protein contains no dairy, it is often used by those who are allergic to lactose, even though low-lactose whey protein is available.
Soy protein is a healthy and vegan-appropriate way of getting protein. It is comparable in quality to Casein, but it digests within two to four hours of consumption, making it an ideal addition to meals. Soy protein is known to be a good antioxidant and soy products often contain other healthy vitamins, but recent medical debates have questioned the possibility of several downsides to ingesting large amounts of soy.
Meat protein is a general classification for all forms of protein found in meat. These types of protein are usually slow-burning and incomplete, but they offer a good source of nutrition if ingested along with other forms of protein. Usually, meat isn’t considered to be a primary source of protein for bodybuilders because ingesting enough meat to meet daily requirements would put most people over their daily recommended fat intake. Turkey and salmon are two of the best forms of lean protein to be found in meat, as they have lower fat contents and more balanced forms of protein.