Are you looking for the Best Whey Protein Powder Supplement of 2021? If yes, you are in the right place, keep reading!
There is a supplement that is a great ally in the development of muscle mass: I’m talking about protein powder.
But why are proteins so important for our body that they justify taking supplements?
Proteins are the “building blocks” of the body, of substances made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which make up many tissues in our body, such as hair, skin in bones, and, finally, muscles.
They constitute 50% of the weight of the organic components, and 20% of the total body weight, and have an important role from a structural, but also functional, point of view.
The function of these particles is fundamental because, from a chemical point of view they serve to synthesize hormones and form enzymes, and on the one hand they are purely physical responsible for strengthening muscle mass.
They are synthesized by the human body from 22 amino acids, their primary components. This means that to synthesize a protein, all 22 amino acids are needed, of which 13 are non-essential amino acids, produced by the body, and 9, called essential amino acids, taken through the diet.
If only one of these amino acids is missing from the appeal, the protein cannot be synthesized.
Furthermore, proteins can be found in plants or animal products. The former is also called non-noble, while the proteins taken from animal products are called noble.
Why take Protein
Some people, mainly those who play hard work, have a very high protein requirement.
For example, a man of an average build should take about 150 grams of protein per day with his diet (1.5 grams per kg of body weight).
The use of protein powder supplements allows:
- To take proteins in a practical, fast, and, above all, precise way;
- To take protein without relying solely on the diet. A diet with high protein intake, in fact, should be based on a high consumption of meat and its derivatives, with severe consequences for the body. It could, in fact, lead to developing colon cancer;
- To take purified proteins from cholesterol, saturated fats, and carbohydrates;
- To take proteins easily assimilated by the body compared to those we can find in food.
- Protein powder supplements are therefore very popular supplements used by sportsmen, whose function is to “build” the muscle and increase muscle mass in a fairly short time.
However, it seems that their action stops at an increase in mass, but does not affect muscle power.
Protein Powder Supplements: Ranking of the best of 2021
Protein supplements improve every year.
It is not easy to shed light on the confusion of brands that exist, but we have put our stomach at risk for you.
If you want to know which are the best protein powder supplements, read on.
The different types of protein powder
The protein powder supplements are not all the same, but can be extracted from different raw materials. They are evaluated by measuring an index, the biological value, which indicates the evaluation of the food based on the quality of the proteins it contains.
Let’s see below what are the main types of supplements that can be found on the market. One of my favorite brands is Scitec Nutrition, on which I wrote a complete guide that you can find by clicking on the previous link.
The types of protein in powdered form
Whey Protein (Whey Protein)
The first proteins I will talk about are those extracted from whey, or Whey proteins, particularly popular because it has been shown to help stimulate muscle growth as they can be assimilated very quickly. In fact, milk is made up of 80% rennet and 20% serum. With the curdling process the two components separate, and serum is obtained which contains proteins and amino acids, but also harmful substances, such as fat, lactose, and cholesterol.
The serum is treated through various processes, micro or ultrafiltration, ion exchange, or hydrolysis.
As we will see later, these processes have, in a different way, the effect of separating the “noble” components from the waste, returning a pure powder with a protein content even higher than 90%.
This type of protein has a biological value of 100 and has the advantage of being easily assimilated. It is, therefore, possible to take it both in the morning and in the evening.
Depending on the production process, three types of proteins can be obtained:
they are the result of the micro or ultrafiltration process, one of the rawest mechanical processes that use pressure to separate the various components.
The supplements thus obtained have a protein percentage of 80% and a result not at the height of the others, but they are excellent for those on a limited budget and must not submit to particularly strict diets.
they undergo filtration through more complex processes, such as ion exchange. They have a greater biological value than the sisters seen above, but have a greater digestibility, which makes them suitable for intake before or after a workout.
finally, they are the most similar, but also the most expensive, since they are “pre-digested”. They are so light that they can be taken at any time, and especially after a workout.
The properties of whey protein, or whey protein, has several properties, including their ability to promote recovery after intense training, increase the amount of insulin after lunch, decreasing the glycemic peak, supporting energy production at starting from amino acids in case of intense physical activity.
The first proteins in powder were extracted from the egg, and in particular from the albumen. Even today these can be considered high-quality proteins, as they have a wide amino acid and biological value of 100. These proteins are excellent because their structure is very similar to that of human muscle.
On the market, there are both supplements made from egg whites and those extracted from the whole egg, but only the first is indicated for those who perform physical activity. The latter, in fact, have a high cholesterol content.
The proteins obtained from the egg have a slower absorption than that of the Whey, the ability to slow down the emptying of the stomach and are particularly indicated after training, because they are very powerful in the regeneration of muscle tissues, or as a replacement meal.
They can also be used by those who are intolerant to lactose or soy.
As we have seen, milk is composed of 80% casein, or rennet. This substance, compared to whey, is heavier and therefore more complex and slower to digest and has a biological value of 80, lower than serum.
This is why the intake of supplements derived from this substance is indicated in the evening before sleeping, to optimize its function to repair the muscular structure, or in the morning, if the person does not have the habit of eating snacks that are high in proteins.
On the other hand, it is not recommended to take it when there is an urgent need for protein, ie after a workout.
Soy extracted proteins
The proteins extracted from soy are non-noble proteins since they do not derive from animal sources, but from the seeds of this legume. Soybean seeds have a very high protein content, which is around 37% of their dry weight. For a long time, they were not considered by those who engaged in intense sporting activities because they were very deficient in essential amino acids.
With time the perception of proteins derived from this legume has changed.
Those proteins were recognized as having one of the highest protein quality index, also thanks to the production processes used.
Companies began to produce isolated soy proteins, which, rich in BCAAs (or branched amino acids) and glutamine, would seem very important for the development of muscle mass.
The biological value of proteins derived from soy is not very high, only 75, but it can be said that these proteins are of great quality, better without a doubt than the proteins derived from meat, because they possess a wide spectrum of amino acids.
In particular, they can be useful when you want to define your muscle mass, because they seem to be able to stimulate the hormone that accelerates the metabolism, the thyroid hormone, or thyroxine.
In addition to defining and tone up your body, it can reduce the percentage of body fat, if you follow a diet low in calories, because thyroxine also affects the metabolism.
This is why it is said that taking these proteins makes you lose weight.
The non-animal origin of these proteins makes them suitable also for vegans, who often need an integration of these substances.
Soy protein can be found in two main forms:
Concentrated Soy proteins
with a protein index of 70% and are used to increase the protein level of different foods.
Isolated Soy proteins
from here we spoke above, which have a higher protein percentage, 90%, and are processed with a combined process between microfiltration and ion exchange.
These protein powder supplements are also used as an emulsifier for some foods, but, before being destined for food purposes, they were used in the paper industry, or as components of some fire-fighting foams. Only since 1959, the proteins derived from soy were finally associated with food use.
But, if these proteins do not have such a high biological value, why should their use be recommended?
First of all, they are highly soluble, since they manage to retain 6 times the water. Furthermore, they are very rich in amino acids (94%) but easily digestible, and can cost much less than their “noble” counterparts.
Many are reluctant to use this type of protein because they believe there is a risk of running into GMOs, but if that were the case, a GMO organism would not be different from a non-GMO one from a chemical point of view. If both are split into their smaller parts they produce the same components.
However, it is necessary to pay attention to the use of soy, since one of its varieties, yellow soy, is not tolerated by all subjects. Furthermore, it could create an accumulation in vegan subjects that use many products derived from it.
How protein powder supplements are produced
There are several methods for producing protein powder supplements: ultrafiltration, micro-encapsulation, microfiltration, cross-flow microfiltration, hydrolysis, and instantiation.
This process is usually used to extract proteins from whey and involves the use of pressure in different degrees to push the milk itself through membranes with smaller and smaller holes (of nanometric dimensions).
Since the protein molecules are too large to pass through the holes, they are conveyed and collected on the membrane. Crossing the membranes, the fluid deposits ever smaller and ever nobler particles.
The compound obtained through the microfiltration is then evaporated and atomized, obtaining the protein powder.
The result of this process is a powder that records a protein content between 80% and 85%, with a fat or lactose content of less than 1%.
The positive aspect of the microfiltration process, if it is carried out cold, is that, since the milk is not heated, macronutrients are stored, which can be calcium, sodium, or other minerals.
Microfiltration also allows the production of a protein compound with a better quality/price ratio.
A derivative of the process seen above is ultrafiltration.
In this case, the liquid passes through membranes of infinitesimal dimensions, producing an even purer result. The protein content of this compound is greater than 85%.
Cross-flow microfiltration, or CFM
A process very similar to the two previous ones is the cross-flow microfiltration, more time-consuming, but which allows obtaining even more pure proteins, that is with a concentration higher than 90% and to maintain the correct quantity of calcium and sodium.
This process takes place at very low temperatures.
The proteins, both of animal origin and vegetable origin, can also be processed through a hydrolysis process. This process aims to break the bonds between the amino acids, creating shorter protein chains, until the peptides are obtained.
The hydrolysis process is very similar to the process that occurs naturally in our digestive system. This is why the compound thus obtained is also called pre-digested proteins.
It is easy to understand what will be the advantage of taking a protein supplement so produced.
It seems that this type of supplement is easier to digest and more rapidly absorbed, making it more suitable for people who show lactose intolerance.
There are, however, also disadvantages, such as, for example, a higher price of the powders obtained with the hydrolysis process, which can exceed the price of supplements produced by other methods by 20% or even 30%.
These supplements also seem to have a more bitter taste.
This process involves mixing the proteins with hot oil, such as soy oil. This, encapsulating the protein particles, allows their slow release in the body, making digestion times slower.
“Instantaneization” is a process used for many food industry products, such as cocoa or powdered milk, and consists of hydration and subsequent drying.
This process gives the product a very important feature, namely the ability to rehydrate instantly by replenishing the water it lost during drying.
Naturally, it gives birth to a perfectly soluble product in water.
The process of extraction through ion exchange carries out a separation of proteins exploiting their ionic charges and some chemical substances, such as hydrochloric acid. This treatment is so aggressive that the lactose is completely eliminated, but allows to obtain a pure 90% protein.
Protein powder: Usage, Dosage, How to take them
We have seen that protein powder can have a more or less bitter taste. Over time, companies that produce supplements have expanded the range by introducing cocoa-flavored powders, vanilla, and many other flavors.
The fundamental thing when taking these supplements is to understand what our real protein requirement is, to avoid an overdose.
Ideally, 2/3 of the requirement should be taken through food and only 1/3 through the powder supplement.
The supplements, thanks to the processes to which they are subjected, can be easily dissolved in water, milk or any other drinks, to allow them to be used in a very simple way.
They must always be dosed with the appropriate measuring cup. It is important to remember to insert the liquid first and then the powder.
Usually, protein powder supplements should be taken for breakfast, but some types, more easily assimilated, can also be taken before or after a workout.
This depends, in fact, on the speed of release and on the digestibility, which as we have seen, can vary depending on the production process and the type of raw material from which they are extracted.
If taken close to a workout, they should be ingested 1 hour earlier to allow the substances to enter the circulation, and an hour later.
Some proteins, namely those with slow-release, must be taken in the evening before sleeping, in order to work at night in the reconstruction of muscle mass consumed during the day.
As we have seen, protein supplements with different flavors can be found to make the intake more enjoyable. You can find the cocoa-flavored, vanilla, strawberry, and other fruit-flavored supplements, as well as the neutral taste.
While in supplements with vanilla and fruit flavors the aromas are added in a very limited way, in the cocoa one is added real cocoa powder. This lowers the “yield” by 5% compared to other types.
To make the consumption of proteins less monotonous, many recipes have been created by integrating these powders as ingredients. In this way, it is no longer necessary to resign yourself to drinking the usual smoothie, but you can create numerous recipes both sweet and savory. An example? Chocolates in the cup and muffins. If you want to have a higher protein yield it is necessary to fall back on other aromas, in particular vanilla, which is the purest powder.
Contraindications and side effects of protein powder supplements?
First of all, we must point out that the intake of proteins affects the kidneys and leads to the formation of urea, a waste substance, and therefore, toxic.
Therefore, excessive protein consumption through diet or supplements can lead to kidney problems, such as calculations. This is one of the reasons why the use of these substances is not recommended for those suffering from kidney failure. Studies have shown that a dosage of 3 or 4 times higher can lead to very serious health consequences and in particular to the kidneys.
Being a supplement, protein powder supplements can also trigger allergies in people who are particularly sensitive to the substance.
The liver may also be affected as protein ingestion requires more effort to metabolize them.
Finally, the consumption of these supplements can affect the intestine, creating swelling, diarrhea or meteorism.
For the protein powder of vegetable origin, the greatest risk we find is the overdose, as it is easy for subjects with a vegetarian or vegan diet to take large quantities of soya already through the diet.
One thing is certain: when taking proteins it is necessary to drink a lot, to counteract the effect of accumulation of waste substances in the kidneys.
The consequences of a bad dosage of proteins are very serious. Kidney failure could lead to a loss of body fluids and subsequent dehydration.
The body could go into acidosis going to trigger severe inflammatory states.
Taking supplements, the risk is that you only partially take amino acids that are essential for our health. To avoid this risk it would be enough to make sure that in an integrator there are proteins from both legumes and cereals.
Where to buy protein powder supplements
Protein powder supplements are ubiquitous products in the sports industry. They can be purchased in dedicated stores, such as Decathlon, or purchased online.
Amazon also offers a wide range of products.
What I advise you is to always pay attention to what you buy. Find out, read the reviews, and, better yet, check with a trusted nutritionist.
It is important that what you ingest is of excellent quality.
In this post we saw what proteins are in powder, the supplement most loved by sportsmen, and which types can be found on the market.
Each type of protein powder differs from the others in:
The raw material from which it is extracted
The extraction process
The characteristics of digestibility and release, which influence the dosage.
The use of protein powder supplements must always take place after a careful evaluation of one’s real needs, as it could lead to serious problems for the kidneys.