By Coach Lindsay Leigh
I am often asked by athletes: “What kind of protein should I eat?” With so many choices (plant based, isolate, concentrate, etc.), it can be overwhelming to choose which one is best for your needs.
Do you need a protein supplement?
Protein plays an important role in our diets. It helps with recovery, performance, and overall health. The average adult needs approximately 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight each day. So, a 125 pound adult needs about 45g and a 200 lb adult needs about 73 grams.
However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends ATHLETES consume more – as much as 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on training intensity. This amount of protein can be difficult to obtain just from food, and this is where a supplement may be helpful.
What type of supplement should I take?
Whey and casein are milk proteins that are commonly used in supplements because they both contain 9 essential amino acids. Pea protein also contains all 9 essential amino acids and is comparable to whey if you’re looking for a plant based option.
Whey absorbs rapidly, whereas pea absorbs moderately, and casein absorbs slowly. So, if you consume dairy, whey can be ideal for having post workout when you need to quickly replenish what you’ve lost in a workout.
Both casein and plant based proteins can be ideal for before bed to help your muscles rebuild during the nighttime fast.
Choose “isolate” over “concentrate.” Isolate contains more protein per gram, and contains less lactose and carbohydrates.
Choose varieties with little to no extra additives and chemicals. The list of ingredients should contain mostly just the protein, not a paragraph of ingredients you can’t pronounce. Some of my favorite brands include Klean Athlete, Bob’s Redmill, Infinit, Hammer, Vega, and Jay Robb.
I recommend using supplements as just that, a supplement, while making sure you eat a wide variety of foods to obtain most of your protein needs.
Below is a table comparing different protein sources (taken from Infinitnutrition.us).
|Source(Animal or Plant)||Absorption (Fast, Moderate or Slow)||Allergen / Food Sensitivity Concerns||Gluten Free||Protein Content (per 1 gram)**||BCAA Content(per 1 gram)**||Leucine Content(per 1 gram)**|
|Whey Protein Isolate||Animal (milk)||Fast||Milk; contains trace amounts of lactose||Yes*||90%||225 mg||105 mg|
|Casein||Animal (milk)||Slow||Milk; contains trace amounts of lactose||Yes*||92%||182 mg||80 mg|
|Soy Isolate||Plant||Moderate||Soy||Yes||87%||159 mg||72 mg|
|Egg White||Animal||Moderate||Egg, Albumin||Yes||82%||182 mg||71 mg|
|Faba Bean||Plant||Moderate||None||Yes||58%||81 mg||36 mg|
|Organic Brown Rice||Plant||Moderate||None||Yes||83%||141 mg||62 mg|
|Pea||Plant||Moderate||None||Yes||77%||180 mg||81 mg|
Have more questions about nutrition? Consider our nutrition coaching, designed to help you optimize your health and performance. We treat nutrition as a lifestyle!