Scoops of protein powder on a table

We've all been there, you walk into the supplement store and are met with a wall of choice. Each one claiming it is better for you than the next - concentrate, casein, isolate.... How is one meant to navigate between this protein or that protein? With our help, that's how. Here is a breakdown of 5 popular proteins so you can better pick which is your winner.

Whey Concentrate

This one is an oldie but a goodie. If you've ever taken protein powder before, at one time or another, you probably took a Whey Concentrate. It's a great beginner protein because it is inexpensive, however, it isn't always the easiest to digest. This is because Whey Concentrate contains a higher amount of lactose, which many find irritating on their digestive tract. If you can consume high amounts of lactose without any irritation, Whey Concentrate might be a good option for you. Make sure you pick one that is at least 80% protein and Whey Concentrate can be a suitable choice for post-workout or just to pep up your protein mid-day.

Whey Isolates

This form of protein powder is one of the fastest absorbing due to the amount of processing it goes through. Along with being easier to digest, it often has fewer carbohydrates and slightly more protein than a Whey Concentrate, making it a fan favourite among growth seekers. Though, because of all this additional processing, it is pricier than its Whey Concentrate cousin. The thing one should keep in mind when looking at a Whey Isolate is insulin response. If you're working to limit spiking your insulin you may want to avoid Whey Isolates as they do create a more profound insulin response. If this isn't a concern, then it's a great choice for post-workout recovery.

Hydrolysate Protein

This protein is like Whey Isolates more talented, slightly better-looking twin. Think Dylan and Coles Sprouse, except whey protein didn't get its start on the Disney Channel. Whey Hydrolysate goes through a bonus round of processing creating a sort of "pre-digested" environment. Making it even faster to absorb when looked at against Whey Concentrate and Whey Isolate. However, as this is only a slight difference, the jury is still out on whether a Whey Hydrolysate is worth the extra dough over a Whey Isolate. You'll run into the same insulin response with a Hydrolysate as you do with an Isolate, too. So consult your health care practitioner if Insulin response is a concern of yours.

Casein Protein

Let me introduce you to your new nightcap. Casein isn't always ideal as a post-workout recovery drink because it is so slow digesting. It can take anywhere from 5 - 7 hours to fully breakdown, which is fantastic for recovery as you sleep. It's also a great source of glutamine which makes it a powerhouse for immunity. Say goodbye to peppermint schnapps and hello to Casein Protein! I mean, does any even drink peppermint schnapps as a nightcap anymore, anyways? I digress... if you're not interested in including a slow release protein source, I'd recommend you focus on a faster-digesting protein. But if you're serious about getting after them #gainz, this could be your secret weapon for growth success!

Plant-Based Protein

For the sake of this article, we're going to talk about Soy Protein. I could write a whole second article about the different types of plant-based proteins and their benefits or disadvantages (and I probably will), so for the sake of brevity, we'll just touch on Soy Protein. Though Soy Protein can be up for debate in the bodybuilding world from time to time, it is a very good source of plant-based protein for those looking into a vegetarian option. It's loaded with arginine to help allow more nutrition into your muscles as well as glutamine and BCAA's for recovery. Where people pause with Soy Protein lies in its phytoestrogens. There are studies that claim the phytoestrogens in Soy Protein lower testosterone, which isn't something one wants when attempting to get swole. Other research claims this phytoestrogen effect is too minor to worry about and the amount of iron, zinc, b-vitamins and digestible proteins outweigh any possible disadvantage. The moral being make your own mind up with Soy Protein and always aim for a non-GMO brand if you do.

Bonus: Combination Protein

A blend of Whey Concentrate and Whey Isolate or a blend of different Plant-Based Proteins can sometimes be the safest choice in this world of "this is bad" and "this is good". If you find a great brand that does a blend, it is definitely something to consider. If you're a purist, this might not be the way you want to go. I'm all about the combo life and personally have had great results from taking a protein blend! At the end of the day, it all comes down to the quality of your protein. We really are what we eat.