In the world of health and fitness, there’s an extremely well known saying: “Diet is just as, if not more so, important as the actual exercise itself”. In a nutshell, through exercise alone you will only be able to achieve so much – your diet may currently be limiting your overall sporting performance. It is only through a combination of hard work and dedication to both your training and diet that you will realise your true potential (just ask our Editor-In-Chief).

One significant part of your diet that becomes largely scrutinised if you’re an athlete is your protein consumption. Regardless of whether you lift weights or perform in a team sport, enhanced ratios of protein are required to allow for the laying down of new lean muscular mass whilst at the same time ensuring adequate recovery and development.

One way to ensure you always hit your target protein levels on a daily basis is through the consumption of supplements such as protein powders. Here in lies the problem: with endless brands and hundreds of protein related products, how do you know which one will best suit your overall training goals and lifestyle?

With this in mind – and in an attempt to end the confusion and allow you to make an informed decision about your protein purchases – we thought we’d breakdown the most popular types of proteins available on the market and how they might best be utilised to achieve results. Don’t go spending that hard earned cash until you’ve read the following…

Types Of Protein Powders Available
Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrate proteins account for approximately 20% of the proteins in milk. In essence, it can be considered a rapid digesting source, rich in the essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.

It is one of the most commonly used protein powders in the health and fitness industry and this is generally down to its relatively low cost – allowing you to achieve a healthy serving of protein at a reasonable price.

Its make-up and consistency can sometimes be called into question, leaving some feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Its use can be considered optimal during both the pre- and post-workout phase.

  • The Protein Works Whey Protein 80 ConcentrateThe Protein Works Whey Protein 80 Concentrate
  • Bulk Powders Whey Protein Concentrate 82% InstantisedBulk Powders Whey Protein Concentrate 82% Instantised
  • Myprotein Impact Whey ProteinMyprotein Impact Whey Protein
  • Bsn Syntha-6 ProteinBsn Syntha-6 Protein
  • Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey ProteinDymatize Nutrition Elite Whey Protein
  • Maximuscle PromaxMaximuscle Promax
Whey Isolate

If you’re looking beyond whey concentrate, then whey isolates protein can be considered the next level up. These powders are both higher in quality and biological value, providing approximately 90%+ protein per serving.

Due to the enhanced manufacturing and filtration processes, whey isolates do carry a heftier price tag. As with most things however, you get what you pay for and you shouldn’t experience any bloating or discomfort with these formulas.

Due to its fast absorbing proteins, whey isolate powders are ideal during the pre- and post-workout phase or any other time when an instant protein hit is required.

  • The Protein Works Whey Protein 90 IsolateThe Protein Works Whey Protein 90 Isolate
  • Bulk Powders Whey Protein Isolate 97%Bulk Powders Whey Protein Isolate 97%
  • Myprotein Impact Whey IsolateMyprotein Impact Whey Isolate
  • Bsn Syntha 6 IsolateBsn Syntha 6 Isolate
  • Dymatize Nutrition Elite Whey IsolateDymatize Nutrition Elite Whey Isolate
  • Nutrisport Whey IsolateNutrisport Whey Isolate
Hydrolysate Protein

If you’re simply looking for the highest quality protein available, then hydrolysate protein is the one for you. Each and every serving provides you with a healthy dosage of absorbable peptides, which have the ability to bring about a truly incredible anabolic effect on your target muscles.

It’s effortlessly processed by your digestive system, too. This supplement cannot only be considered the highest quality protein available on the planet but also the most expensive. Due to the rapid uptake of hydrolysate protein, it offers similar benefits to both of the previously mentioned types of protein and is ideal to consume both as a pre- and post-workout supplement.

  • The Protein Works Hydrolysed WheyThe Protein Works Hydrolysed Whey
  • Myprotein Hydrolysed Whey ProteinMyprotein Hydrolysed Whey Protein
  • Phd Nutrition Pharma Whey Ht+Phd Nutrition Pharma Whey Ht+
  • Optimum Nutrition Platinum HydrowheyOptimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey
  • Dymatize Iso-100 ProteinDymatize Iso-100 Protein
  • Proto WheyProto Whey
Alternative Protein Powders

The initial three protein powders discussed thus far can be considered the bronze, silver and gold standard in terms of biological value and beneficial effects on offer. All provide you with a solid source of rapid release proteins, which have been shown to be beneficial when taken prior to and immediately following intense training sessions. Ultimately, it might be your bank balance that decides which of the three you go for.

However, there are other protein powders which also deserve a level of recognition and appreciation. So let us know consider the remaining powders in further detail…

Casein Protein

Casein protein accounts for approximately 80% of the protein in milk. Whilst the initial three powders considered were all fast release proteins, casein protein can be considered the opposite. Casein protein will take several hours to breakdown and provides a steady drip feed approach to your target muscles. It is also extremely rich in the recovery supplement glutamine.

Due to these properties, casein protein is ideal to take as a night time snack, prior to sleeping. This allows for your muscles to be fed throughout the night. Casein protein can also be utilised throughout the day, allowing you to remain fully anabolic.

  • Optimum Nutrition 100% Casein ProteinOptimum Nutrition 100% Casein Protein
  • Musclepharm CaseinMusclepharm Casein
  • The Protein Works Calcium Caseinate 90The Protein Works Calcium Caseinate 90
Complete Milk Protein

This supplement is derived from the dried protein in milk, with the carbohydrates and fats removed. As a result it contains calcium and other key vitamins and minerals.

It is also the first protein powder considered thus far that blends a combination of different proteins together. Complete milk protein contains both casein and whey proteins.

Due to its unique consistency and make-up, complete milk protein offers the best of both worlds – allowing you to receive both fast and slow release proteins in a single serving. Despite its casein content, this supplement is considered most effective when taken during the day.

  • Bulk Powders Milk Protein Concentrate 85% InstantisedBulk Powders Milk Protein Concentrate 85% Instantised
  • Myprotein Milk Protein SmoothMyprotein Milk Protein Smooth
  • The Protein Works Milk Protein 85The Protein Works Milk Protein 85
Soy Protein

Soy protein powder can be considered a high quality supplement, but not quite as efficient as that of complete milk protein or casein protein. However, it does provide a real solution to individuals such as vegetarians and vegans, who might otherwise struggle to reach their daily protein requirements.

Soy protein is also loaded with other beneficial ingredients such as glutamine, arginine and branched chain amino acids – all of which can be considered essential during the recovery and growth processes.

Due to its healthy cholesterol content, soy protein has also been shown to promote fat loss.

  • Bulk Powders Soya Protein Isolate 90%Bulk Powders Soya Protein Isolate 90%
  • Myprotein Soy Protein IsolateMyprotein Soy Protein Isolate
  • Optimum Nutrition 100% Soy ProteinOptimum Nutrition 100% Soy Protein
Egg Albumin

Egg albumin protein is derived purely from egg whites. Egg whites are a superb source of protein and offer an alternative for those individuals who are lactose intolerant.

Furthermore, this supplement offers an incredible amino acid profile. Although the most common form of egg albumin is that of liquid, it is also available to purchase as a protein powder. Due to its characteristics and nutritional goodness, egg albumin is considered most beneficial when utilised throughout the day as a high protein snack.

  • Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Egg ProteinOptimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Egg Protein
  • Myprotein Egg White PowderMyprotein Egg White Powder
  • The Protein Works Egg White Protein 80The Protein Works Egg White Protein 80
Final Word

Who knew choosing a protein supplement could be so complicated? This article doesn’t even begin to explore the other protein supplements available to you, which includes bars, flapjacks and even muffins these days, as well as the invaluable sources of protein found in weight gainers and meal replacements.

Although there is more to choosing a protein shake than simply the size and flavour, the rest is really down to you and your unique requirements. It’s always worth spending an extra five minutes or so evaluating the ingredients list and nutritional profile each supplement provides. A lot of the cheaper brands are willing to tell you how much protein each serving provides in big, eye catching print but often take a different approach regarding the sugar content and other fillers that provide little or no nutritional value.

Furthermore, it’s worth considering your unique training needs and dietary requirements. Although a particular brand or type of protein might work for one individual, it may not bring about the same desired outcomes for you. If you’re looking for a pre- or post-workout protein only then it might prove beneficial to consider proteins such as whey concentrate or whey isolate. Conversely, if yo’’re looking for a protein to consume prior to going to bed at night then a slow release protein that has the ability to drip feed your muscles (such as casein) would be the obvious, alternative answer.

Ultimately, if you train hard in the gym then you deserve a protein which will work just as hard for you and serve all of your dietary needs and requirements. Always make an informed decision regarding your supplement purchases – after all, it’s your hard earned cash you’re parting with.

Happy shopping!