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Protein Powders Explained

Continuing our 3-part protein series, let’s chat next about protein powders.

(If you missed the first two, check your inbox for Why Is Protein Important? from December 1st and Protein 101 from December 8th)


Vegan Protein

Vegan protein supplements are plant-based and can be derived from sources like peas, rice, soy, or hemp.

While animal-based proteins are usually considered “complete” proteins because they contain all the essential amino acids, there are several plant-based protein sources that are also complete proteins. These include soy products (such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame), quinoa, and buckwheat.

Other plant-based protein sources may be considered “incomplete” proteins because they may lack certain essential amino acids. However, by combining different sources of plant-based protein throughout the day, individuals can ensure they obtain all the essential amino acids they need. For example, combining grains (like rice or bread) with legumes (such as beans, lentils, or chickpeas) forms a complementary combination that provides all the essential amino acids.

Additionally, some plant-based protein sources, like hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina, are also rich in essential amino acids and can contribute to meeting protein and amino acid needs.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is derived from milk, which contains lactose.

Why do some people have GI issues with whey?

  1. Lactose Intolerance – lactose intolerant individuals lack the enzyme needed to break down lactose. Bloating, gas, diarrhea
  2. Allergies/Sensitivities
  3. Low Quality or Contaminated Protein
  4. High Protein Intake – excessive amounts of protein or too much too quickly

Solution: Different brands, spacing out your protein intake, adequate hydration, consuming protein with other foods

How do I find high quality protein supplements?

  • Reputable Brands – standards and manufacturing transparency, third party certifications
  • Ingredient List – Primary ingredient should be whey protein isolate or concentrate

Let’s get into these a little bit further…

Most vegan protein powders are derived from pea protein, rice protein, or hemp.

  1. Pea protein: Derived from yellow split peas, rich in amino acids and is usually easily digestible. It’s a popular choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to soy and other common allergens.
  2. Rice protein: Made from brown or white rice, also hypoallergenic and easily digestible. Most powders combine it with pea protein to complete a complete amino acid profile.
  3. Hemp protein: Hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids and are generally rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which we need for a million different things.

Potential drawbacks:

  1. Vegan protein powders pack a little less protein PER scoop compared to whey protein powders
  2. A little more “gritty”/don’t dissolve as well. Throw it in a blender with some almond milk and some fruit and it tends to go okay 🙂
  3. Additives – unfortunately during processing, plant-based protein powders can often have additives that cause bloating or GI discomfort or become contaminated with heavy metals, cheap artificial flavors to enhance flavor, etc.

It’s important to note that many of these drawbacks can be mitigated by being mindful of ingredient quality, using protein powders in moderation, and supplementing with whole food alternatives.

Whey Protein powders are derived from whey, a byproduct of cheese production and most people don’t know this but how you react to it depends entirely on the filtration process (apart from a dairy allergy/intolerance).

I would venture out and guess that many of you who have experienced gut discomfort after whey protein had consumed a less expensive whey concentrate so let me discuss the differences.

Whey Concentrate vs Isolate

  1. Protein Content: Whey protein isolate has ~ 90-95% protein, whereas whey protein concentrate ~ 70-80% protein per serving
  2. Carbohydrate and Fat Content: Whey protein isolate undergoes additional processing steps to remove a larger portion of lactose (milk sugar) and fat compared to whey protein concentrate. Therefore, isolate generally has lower levels of carbohydrates and fats.
  3. Filtration Process: The main difference between whey protein isolate and concentrate lies in the filtration process used during manufacturing. Whey protein isolate undergoes further filtration, including microfiltration or ion exchange, to remove more impurities, such as lactose, fat, and ash, resulting in a more refined and concentrated protein product.
  4. Digestion Rate: Whey protein isolate is often considered to have a faster absorption rate compared to whey protein concentrate. This is because isolate has been further processed to remove lactose and fat, making it more easily and quickly digested by the body. Whey protein concentrate, with its slightly higher levels of lactose and fat, may take a little longer to digest.
  5. Taste and Texture: Whey protein isolate, due to its superior refinement process, often tends to have a milder taste and smoother texture compared to whey protein concentrate. This can be more desirable for individuals who are sensitive to the taste or texture of protein supplements.

Now that you’re a protein powder expert, you will know WHY I have selected a high quality vegan and whey isolate powder as part of our Foundry Performance Supplement launch! I plan on getting into creatine next week but for now…

Here are the labels for each of our current offerings:

Online ordering for supplements available HERE! As always, let us know if you have any questions 🙂 📈

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