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King of Protein
The scene is set. It is a blistering hot Saturday night in Las Vegas with street lights bright, traffic loud, and testosterone in the air. The crowd is covered with cloud of anxiety waiting for the competitors to enter the packed arena. This Mixed Martial Art (MMA) tournament is the first of its kind and after tonight we will know who is king of the cage. The tournament will pit the four top contenders against each other for seven rounds of action. A winner of each round will be declared and in the end the contestant with the highest score will be crowned the “King of Protein”.
The introductions start with soy making its way to the cage.
is a complete protein and is generally very low in fat, cholesterol, and lactose. Lactose intolerant people are approved to use most soy proteins, and it can be used as a meat substitute for vegetarians. Soy protein is derived from soybeans. The crowd roars its approval and soy looks better than ever and ready for the fight.
The odds on favorite in the betting before tonight’s match are definitely Whey. The public likes what they have seen in the past from this contender that used to be nothing more than a bi-product that was thrown away. It is true, Whey was once no more than trash left over in the production of cheese. I guess the saying, “One man trash is another man treasure” really does apply in this case. Whey does come in three different forms (concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate). Whey has that killer instinct and the other contenders better be at their best if they want to even compete, much less win.
The “sleeper” in the group is
. It comes in with less fanfare and a good resume along with a workman like durability. Micellar Casein is the natural, non-denatured form of casein found in common milk. It is separated by ultra-filtration and without the use of chemicals. It can be found in the raw product of milk for consumption. Many companies also offer casein on its own as well. Casein, just like Whey, has a confidence about itself. I would call it a quiet confidence.
Egg White Protein
The crafty veteran of the group enters the ring with the old-school crowd going wild.
has been around, well either just before the chicken or after it; the verdict is still out on that one. It is the product that bodybuilders used before technology gave us something different. Egg White has been around the block and if anyone slips he will nail them. You can never count out the old guy.
Round 1 - Affordability
Once the introductions are over the contenders are in the ring and ready for action. Round one is all about affordability. It doesn’t matter if it is the best if no one can afford to use it on a regular basis. It is like saying a Ferrari is the best car. Sure it probably is, but how many of us can afford a Ferrari.
Whey’s price rises and falls along with dairy market, but stays in the lower end of the price range of proteins. Five pound jugs normally run in the $35-$50 range depending on brand and supplier. Whey is the king of affordability.
Just like whey, soy is a fairly inexpensive protein and was the so-called “cheap protein” before Whey was discovered. Recent ability to separate soy isolates has increased the price of soy, but it is still a good buy.
This is getting more expensive by the day. Companies see a need for a slow digesting protein and they are marketing Casein as just that. Look at any protein that is designed to be taken at bedtime -- I bet Casein is the main protein in the product. The rise in price has nothing to do with the production and everything to do with the demand.
Egg White has always been the most expensive form of powder protein. It’s high quality along with its costly manufacturing dubs Egg White Protein as the least affordable.
Winner of round 1:
Whey. Soy is a close second.
Round 2 - Taste
Taste is more about fillers than it is about the protein generally speaking. This is a personal preference, but there are distinct differences in each protein in one way or another.
Whey is pretty versatile. Companies can flavor whey to taste about any way they want. It can be thicker with some additives and especially if it is the concentrate version of whey. Whey Isolate on the other hand is easily dissolved for consistency that is more like that of water.
Soy is also versatile and can be flavored just as whey, but is usually thinner before endless additives.
Casein is usually the thickest of the four contenders. This is due to its molecular make up. Casein is usually only found in basic flavors. (Strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla) A thicker more cake batter like taste is what I envision when thinking about Casein protein.
Egg White protein is definitely an acquired taste. Some people love it and some can’t stand it, but it comes down to personal preference. It is also usually only found in traditional flavors. Some companies have come up with a pasteurized version of real liquid egg white that you can flavor any way you want.
Winner of round 2:
Tie. It comes down to personal preference.
Round 3 – Health Benefits
Although most people envision building muscle and supplementing meals as the number one reason to use protein, many would be surprised at some of the other health benefits. Protein can help your body do so much more than build muscle and what type of protein you ingest may provide different benefits.
Soy is tops in this round. Although it gets a bad rap from men, who stray from Soy due to the scare of estrogen enhancement, Soy packs a punch in the health benefits round. Don’t believe me; Soy even received a good bill of health from the FDA. They published that 25 grams per day would reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Whey has also been shown to have a myriad of health benefits as well. Cardiovascular disease is also affected positively by Whey due to its ability to lower blood pressure. Whey does this by building muscle and indirectly increasing the blood vessels surface area. This means you body pushes just as much blood or more at a lower pressure. Whey, since it is a dairy derivative, is high in calcium, which has been shown to help with bone health and density.
Since Casein is also a dairy derivative it has many of the same qualities as Whey. The higher fat content in some Casein products is a concern for some.
Egg Whites have not shown much promise in this department. The constant concern of dietary cholesterol is also present. Pure liquid egg whites may turn out to be the best of the contenders one day, due to the least amount of processing it takes to get to the consumer and lack of additives, but no such evidence exists of yet.
Winner of round 3:
Soy. Whey is a close second. Looks like a two man battle at this point.
Round 4 – Pre-Workout
This subject has been discussed many times, but for the new comers to the protein world, there is a need for different protein throughout the day. Pre-Workout is when a person needs quickly absorbed protein so the body won’t be fighting between digesting food and working out at the same time. Let’s see which one is quickest to the punch.
Whey is the quickest digestible protein of the contenders. This along with its ability to increase the blood vessel surface area makes Whey a winner in this round as well. The increased surface area during blood flow allows for more nutrients, testosterone, and oxygen to reach the muscle during the workout.
Although it is digested at about the same rate as Whey, its benefits slow down tremendously after that. Soy contains high levels of the amino acid arginine. This amino acid is the main ingredient for most pre workout drinks due to it enhancement of nitrogen in the body leading supposedly to lager pumps.
Egg whites digest a bit slower, but they also have high counts of arginine as well.
Casein is the slowest digesting of the four, which places it at the bottom of the heap. A pure Casein shake could be a bad mistake pre-workout, but a little bit of Casein has been shown to help with and or stop the breakdown of existing muscle in the body during a workout.
Winner of round 4:
Whey. Whey is pulling out in front with a couple of big punches landed.
Round 5 – Post Workout
This is a big enough issue to have an entire article written on it alone, and many have, but people are still not getting the message. Quick uptake is not the only thing; it is everything when talking about Post-Workout protein. Nothing else matters.
Again, Whey is the quickest digestible protein of the contenders. This allows the Whey to be shuttled more quickly to repair broken muscles and help with hypertrophy of the muscles and protein synthesis.
Soy is digested at about the same rate as Whey so its benefits naturally rival Whey in this area. Soy is also shown to help with oxidative damage post workout, so a runner or an aerobic athlete may get better results out of Soy.
Egg whites are slower digesting than whey or soy, but quicker than Casein. Its slower digestion along with its inability to have a positive effect on insulin production lands this contender in third.
Casein is the slowest digesting of the four, which places it at the bottom of the heap again. Any benefit it has is outweighed by the slow digestion in this round.
Winner of round 5:
Whey. Whey is going for the knockout punch.
Round 6 – Bed Time
Not all people have a shake right before bed, but some do. Which one of our contenders will give you the most bang for your buck? Just before bed the body needs a protein that will guard against muscle break down. That would be one that digests slowly.
Casein’s slow digestion rate actually works for him in this round. Casein digests the slowest out of the four contenders and this allows for a more even release of protein throughout the first part of the night. This will allow the body other avenues rather than existing muscles when looking for amino acids to obtain for repair.
This round shows how things can get turned quickly when the situation of what we need changes. Egg whites are slower digesting than whey or soy, but quicker than Casein. Its slower digestion gives Egg Whites its best finish in any round up to this point.
Soy is digested pretty quickly so it is not the best choice in this situation.
Whey is the quickest digestible protein of the contenders so it naturally falls at the bottom of this round.
Winner of round 6:
Casein. Casein lands a haymaker and stuns the crowd and the contenders.
Round 7 – Building Muscle
When it boils down to the biggest question people want to know, it is always, “Which one will I build the most muscle with?” It is true that we need protein synthesis to build muscles so the protein that speeds up protein synthesis would be our best choice if building muscle was our number one goal.
Whey is king when it comes to protein synthesis. This is again due to Whey’s ability to be digested quickly and be distributed in the body where it is needed. It is not really that Whey does a better job when it gets there; it just gets there a lot earlier than the others.
Soy is quickly digested as well, but its concerns over excess estrogen and a slightly smaller amino acid count drop it below Whey just like many rounds have.
Casein falls in the good, but not good enough category when muscle building is the topic. It is a good source but not up with the standards of Whey.
Egg Whites again take up the bottom of the scorecard in this round. This guy was beat up all night.
Winner of round 7:
Whey. Whey finishes off a well-rounded performance.
Whey. No other protein rivals the power and versatility of Whey.
Each contender has its benefits. Although some flexed more muscle today than others, there is a need for each in your diet. If you are going to pick one, go with Whey, but a mixture would be better. Use the benefits and digestibility of each one. There is a perfect time and place for each fighter to fight for you.
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