Because of hectic schedules it is impossible to eat the five to six perfectly balanced daily meals required for achieving your bodybuilding goals. Protein supplements can be used as "fast foods". They are easy to prepare (if it is a protein bar then no preparation is required) and most of the formulas that are available on the market today taste good.
There are many categories of protein supplements. Before we cover the different categories of protein supplements and how to use them, let's talk about the different sources of protein found in these supplements.
There are many sources of protein from which protein powders or bars can be made. Protein quality is measured by Biological Value (BV). BV is a value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein based on nitrogen retention. The higher the Biological Value of the protein you use, the more nitrogen your body can absorb, use, and retain. As a result, proteins with the highest BV promote the most lean muscle gains. Whey protein has the highest BV value, rating at 104. Egg protein is only second to whey rating as a 100 with milk proteins being a close third rating as 91. Beef rates as an 80 with soy proteins a distant 74. Bean proteins, due to the fact that are plant-based proteins, only rate a 49. Now that we have discussed BV values, let's discuss each protein source in more detail.
1. Whey Proteins
Whey protein is a great protein source for the following reasons shown in a growing number of studies:
- It improves sports performance because it reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels (hormone that destroys muscle).
- Improved immunity by increasing glutathione, which is a water soluble antioxidant found in the body.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Can help fight HIV.
- Helps reduce overtraining (which is linked also to low levels of GSH).
In addition to the above, whey proteins are highly digestible and have an even better amino acid profile than egg whites. So in other words, whey protein has the highest biological value (value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein) of any protein.
Having said this, whey is not the steroid-like substance that many supplement marketers would like you to believe, but based on current research, it can be a valuable addition to one's diet for the reasons outlined above.
Also, all whey is not created equal. The whey that will give you the benefits described above has to be micro-filtered. Otherwise, it is just the garbage left after pasteurizing milk. Micro-filtration has to be done at very low temperatures in order to allow for the production of high protein concentration with no undenatured protein, minimum fat, minimum lactose and cholesterol.
Whey Isolates & Concentrates
In addition, there are whey isolates and whey concentrates. Whey isolates are sub-fractions of whey that are absorbed much more rapidly into the system. This is a good thing for post workout nutrition as at this time the body is in dire need of amino acids. However, whey isolate makes a poor choice for supplementation at other parts of the day, as if the body does not have a need for all of the amino acids that are released into the bloodstream, it will use them for energy production as opposed to muscle building. Also, it is important to mention that whey isolate does not have many of the health enhancing properties that are described above, as the expensive process required to produce whey isolate destroys many of the health/immune system enhancing sub-fractions such as the lactoferrins, beta-lactoglobulins, and immuno-globulins. Therefore, for during the day use, a product consisting mainly of whey concentrate is your best bet while for after the workout, a whey isolate product would be a better choice.
2. Egg Protein
Egg protein is a super bio-available protein second only to whey, as previously discussed. It is a released more slowly than whey, which makes it perfect for use throughout the day. One thing that I like to do is mix some egg and whey protein for the most bio-available protein shake in the planet!
3. Milk Proteins (Calcium Casseinate/Miscellar Casein)
Milk proteins, just like egg proteins, are a highly bio-available protein source (slightly less BV than egg) that are slowly released into the blood stream.
Calcium Casseinate is a predominant protein found in milk and other dairy products. Micellar casein is the natural, undenatured form of casein found in milk. It is separated from milk by means of ultrafiltration, without the use of chemicals, which increases the amount of bioactive milk peptides that support immune function as well as enhance muscle growth.
A property of micellar casein is that it has the ability to provide a steady release of amino acids into the blood stream, which makes it an excellent choice for a long lasting anti-catabolic (muscle protecting) protein.