Flip through this magazine and you’ll see plenty of advertisements for protein powders. Bodybuilding novices may dismiss these as they jump from article to article. Experienced bodybuilders, however, know better.
For those who are serious about training, diet and supplements, perusing the ads is key to gaining information. Think about it you would never hear a car aficionado complain about ads for a new Porsche in Car and Driver. Macworld magazine would suck without the adverts for all the new games and programs coming out. Hell, you’d never hear a pom collector complain about the ads for the new Jenna Jameson video in Hustler. They want to know what new stuff is out there, just like you should. Even for supplement-savvy trainers who see ads as a way to keep track of what’s available, it still can be confusing to sort through all the different types of proteins available today.
Do you really know what properties make whey proteins different from casein proteins? Did you realize that, despite years of negative press, soy is a good source of protein for male bodybuilders?
Our complete guide to protein powders will give you a refresher on what you may already know, as well as fill you in on everything you don’t know when it comes to the supplement that every bodybuilder should have in a nutritional arsenal. Read on then take the time later to check out the ads. Sure, we love ’em because they help pay our bills, but the products in those pages can pay major dividends for you, as well.
#1 Cows Milk Protein
Powders with protein derived from cow’s milk are the most popular on the market today, and they include whole milk, casein and whey.
Whole-Milk Protein Powders
Milk protein is separated from lactose and fat by a gentle filtration process that leaves both the major protein components of milk intact. Of those two proteins casein and whey casein is far more prevalent in the mix. Casein accounts for approximately 80% of the protein in milk; whey, approximately 20%. Milk proteins are good for use between meals and before bedtime, as casein digests slowly and delivers a steady supply of amino acids to muscles. Since whole-milk protein also contains whey, which digests quickly, these protein powders can be used before and after workouts. They are not optimal, however, due to their relatively low whey content.
Milk proteins are usually listed on ingredients labels of protein powders as one of the following.
Milk protein concentrate (MPC)
MPC has a protein content of about 80% and a lactose content of approximately 5%. MPC is typically produced by ultrafiltration, which employs varying degrees of pressure to force only the liquid (water) portion of the milk through a porous membrane. The larger proteins cannot pass through the membrane and are collected for further processing that usually involves evaporation and a drying process. The result is an MPC powder.
Milk protein isolate (MPI)
MPI is usually made by precipitating whey and casein proteins from skim milk. This often involves diafiltration, a membrane process that uses water to wash out lactose, producing an MPI that is about 90% protein and very little lactose or fat.
Casein Protein Powders
The major protein component of milk exists as tiny micelles (globules). They are insoluble in liquid and take longer to digest than whey or vegetable proteins; some forms take up to seven hours to fully digest. This means they provide a slow and steady release of amino acids to the body. These slow-digesting proteins are great for supplementing between meals and before bed whenever you won’t have a chance to eat for many hours.
Having a steady supply of amino acids for your body will help prevent the muscles from being broken down for their amino acids. Look for the following types of casein on the ingredients lists of protein powders.
Caseinate (usually as calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate or potassium caseinate) Manufacturers add calcium, sodium or potassium to casein to make caseinate protein powders. Caseinate typically contains more than 90% protein and, as the most soluble form of casein, mixes more easily in fluids. Because of that, many protein manufacturers prefer to use this form of casein in their products.
Micellar casein (MC)
MC is usually made by separating the casein portion of milk from the lactose, fat and whey via microfiltration. This low-temperature process uses ceramic filters that don’t denature (damage) the casein protein, yet they remove the large fat globules that ultrafiltration cannot. Micellar casein can form micelles upon rehydration, which makes MC less easy to mix in liquids, but makes it the slowest digesting of the casein proteins. For this reason, many protein manufacturers use MC in protein powders designed specifically for nighttime use.
Hydrolyzed casein protein (HCP)
HCP is formed by the hydrolysis of casein protein. Hydrolysis breaks the bonds between amino acids, making shorter-chain proteins. Unlike other casein proteins, HCP powders are digested and absorbed rapidly, making them good to use before and after workouts.
Depending on how much of the protein is hydrolyzed, some powders that contain HCP have a slightly bitter taste due to the shorter protein fragments.