If you’re new to the world of protein powder, then you probably have several questions. In fact, queries about why you would want to use a protein powder are likely to top your list. Once you understand the many benefits these products offer, it’s time to turn your attention to selecting a protein powder, which is a surprisingly complex task. What is a protein concentrate? What is a protein isolate? What is a protein hydrolysate? And, perhaps most importantly, why should you care?
The Benefits of Protein
Protein is a basic building block for the human body, and getting enough protein is often a vital part of achieving the goals that you’ve set for your physical self. Why is that? Consuming sufficient protein can help you build muscle. More muscle increases your fat-burning capabilities, which can help you shed any extra pounds that you’re carrying around.
Of course, while the positive changes to your biceps or your waistline might be the most obvious benefits, there are other advantages to getting enough protein. After all, eating the right amount of protein is also linked with better brain function, stronger bones, lower blood pressure, faster healing, and increased longevity. What’s not to love?
The Advantages of Protein Powders
Protein powders are popular because they make it easy for even the busiest individuals to get more protein in their diet. Most people are aware that these powders can be used to make shakes or smoothies, but many don’t realize they can do much more. These versatile products can be used to enrich a wide range of recipes and transform a plethora of foods into protein-powered meals. For example, you could add protein powder to mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, soups, baked goods, waffles, pizza crust, frittatas, and much more.
Understanding why people choose to include protein powders in their diets is easy. Choosing the right product is a bit trickier, because not all protein powders are equally useful. One thing to consider as you’re shopping for your perfect protein powder is the type of powder. What is a protein isolate? What about protein concentrates and hydrolysates? Which of these three options is best for you?
What Is a Protein Concentrate?
A concentrate is the least processed type of protein powder. When you’re continually hearing that you should avoid processed foods, it might seem like that’s a good thing. However, that’s not quite true. Concentrates tend to be the cheapest option, but they also offer the least amount of protein per scoop, because they contain more of other ingredients. These extra ingredients can include more less-than-desirable things, like fat, cholesterol, lactose, and gluten. If you’re trying to limit your fat intake or have a sensitive digestive system, then you should probably avoid protein concentrates.
What Is a Protein Isolate?
What is a protein isolate, and how does it compare to a protein concentrate? A protein isolate is a type of protein powder that has undergone a little more processing than a concentrate. The “processing” steps are generally just simple cooking, filtering, and decanting off fat and other lower protein portions to separate and collect the purest protein fractions.
The additional processing better isolates the protein that you want, separating it from the fat, lactose, gluten, and other stuff that you don’t want. As a result, protein isolates deliver more protein with fewer calories. As a bonus, they also tend to be more digestible, because common troublemakers like gluten and lactose are removed as the protein is purified. Basically, when someone asks, “What is a protein isolate?” they shouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s arguably the best type of protein powder for most people.
What Is a Protein Hydrolysate?
Having already pointed out that protein isolates are the best choice for most people shopping for protein powders, it may seem a little inane to discuss protein hydrolysates, but it’s always good to have a basic understanding of all your options so that you can be confident that you’ve made the right choice.
A protein hydrolysate is made by taking a concentrate or isolate and subjecting it to further processing. Hydrolysates have been exposed to acid, heat, or enzymes to break large, complex proteins into faster-digesting smaller pieces; they partially break down the bonds between the protein’s amino acids, creating a product that absorbs more rapidly for speedy and more complete digestion.
The extra processing also makes this product the most expensive type of protein powder and may give the taste a bitter edge. Since concentrates and isolates are already digested fairly quickly, experts tend to agree that hydrolysates simply aren’t worth the extra money for most people.
Selecting a Protein Powder
The selection of protein powders available is impressive, so choosing one can take a bit of thought. There are several factors to consider.
The Protein’s Source
Various proteins are sourced for these products. Popular possibilities include chicken, beef, pork, whey, casein, soy, and pea. Ideally, you should select a complete protein, one that contains all of the essential amino acids. Animal sources generally provide complete proteins, and some powders blend different plant proteins to generate a product that offers a complete protein – although not as high scoring as animal protein.
The Type of Protein Powder
Concentrates are less processed and generally less expensive. Hydrolysates are the most processed and generally the most expensive. Most people seem to find that isolates hit the sweet spot because they’re processed just enough to remove less desirable elements. They tend to be lower in calories and easier on the stomach than concentrates, without the spike in cost associated with hydrolysates.
The Nonprotein Components
Gluten, lactose, sugars, fat, carbs, cholesterol, and other undesirable things can be included in the contents of protein powders. Your best bet is to look for a product that’s an isolate sourced from a lean protein like chicken, and read the label carefully so that you are aware of exactly what you’re getting in each scoop. Ultimately, you want a quality protein powder that’s packed with protein and lacking undesirable extras.
Exploring the ins and outs of protein powders can take a little time, but it’s worth it. Understanding the pros and cons of the different kinds of protein and the different types of protein powders enables you to select a quality product that truly suits your protein needs.
If you would like to give chicken protein powder a try, check out CHiKPRO™, a nutritious protein supplement. Versatile and easy to use, this protein supplement contains 25 grams of protein in each 30-gram scoop! Plus, you can use it in pizza, waffles, smoothies, frittatas, and many more delicious recipes. It is non-allergenic, dairy-free, and gluten-free. CHiKPRO™ also features in SNX-SMART™ Chicken Protein Snack Mix, which comes in several different flavors, including Sweet BBQ, Cheese Pizza, and Cinnamon Bun. To learn more, please visit the CHiKPRO™ website.