Protein Supplements: Which Type to Choose?

Which Type to Choose? The Pros and Cons of Different Protein Sources; best protein powder for building muscle

Regardless of whether you are a fitness fanatic or casual gym goer, protein is essential for maximising gains. As you work out, you are essentially breaking your muscles down, which is why you need protein, to repair, maintain and rebuild for muscle growth, which will benefit you both pre workout and post workout.

It is crucial to include protein in your daily diet. Protein is present in food such as chicken, fish, eggs and nuts, but protein powder supplements can be a simple and effective way to consume your daily allowance (which you can calculate here).

It’s easy to feel bombarded by the array of protein powders available, but this straight forward list will discuss different types of powder, and help you decide which best suits you.

different types of protein

  1. Whey

Whey is a complex milk based protein made up of many smaller protein subfractions such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobins (IgGs), glycomacropeptides and bovine serum albumin (BSA).

It is one of the most popular protein sources and has been shown to limit muscle breakdown and help build muscles mass. It is important to consume protein within around 60 minutes of your workout and as soon as you wake up to stop your body turning catabolic, therefore whey is a popular choice as the protein is quick to digest.

Dairy based proteins also contain many essential vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and iron.


  • Whey Isolate

Pros: The term “isolate” means that the components in the milk have been separated. This is why the protein concentration is one of the highest of all proteins, at between 90 and 95%, and it contains little fat.

Importantly, Whey isolate contains very low lactose content, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

Con: Whey isolate is the pricier of whey protein powders.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey 2273 g Milk Chocolate Protein Shake Powder


  • Undenatured Whey (Whey Concentrate)

Pros: Whey in its purer form has been shown to support your immune system, more so than Isolate. It is a rich source of gluathione, which is one of the strongest antioxidants that the body makes. Whey also contains beta-lactoglobulin and glutamine which increase immune system functionality.

The ‘cold’ processing of this can be seen as more natural than the isolate process.

Cons: Undenatured whey has a lower percentage of protein per ounce of powder (around 75-80% for a high quality whey concentrate) because it still contains lactose and fats (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Those who are lactose intolerant should stay away from this protein source.

Reflex Nutrition 2.2kg Chocolate Perfection Instant Whey PRO

scoops of whey protein

  1. Casein

Casein is another milk protein. It is produced using a separation process applied to milk, which can isolate the protein from the carbohydrates and fats.

Pros: Casein offers similar benefits as whey does. It is released differently than whey however, it is a great pre-bed protein source as it is digested slowly throughout the night.

Cons: In the same way as undenatured whey, those with intolerance to lactose shouldn’t consume casein. As it is absorbed slowly, it’s not the best post-workout protein source when your body needs the nutrients fast.

Casein can also be more expensive than whey, and less soluble, meaning it doesn’t mix well with liquids.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein Protein Powder Drink Mix Chocolate Supreme 1.82kg


  1. Hemp

Hemp protein is a complete plant-based protein, derived from the hemp seeds.

Pros: It is a great choice for vegans as well as anybody who wants less bloat from their shake which some people find with whey. it contains a perfect proportion of omega 3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, is high in fibre and has anti-inflammatory properties.

It is also a complete protein source as it contains all 10 essential amino acids which the body can’t produce.

Cons: It contains fats and carbohydrates with a lower percentage of protein than others on this list. It also doesn’t mix very well in shakes, as it is quite gritty and many do not like the taste if they buy it unflavoured.

Good Hemp Protein Powder Natural 2.5kg


  1. Soy

Soy is a plant based protein, and the most complete of all vegan friendly proteins.

Pros: The vegetable protein avoids the gastrointestinal discomfort caused by lactose and is suitable for vegans. Isoflavones in soy provide antioxidant benefits, usually for immunity, and also make for a healthier heart.

Cons: Soy isn’t highly recommended as being your sole protein source. This is because with the controversial soy protein, studies have linked consumption to an increase in estrogen and an increased risk of breast cancer (although there are studies which state the opposite).

Erdschwalbe Organic Soy Protein Powder 1kg – 92% of protein content



In my experience, whey isolate gets the job done and is the standard go-to protein source for it’s fast digestion and convenience. If you have no intolerance to lactose though, the benefits of undenatured whey far outweighs the cons in my opinion due to its high levels of BCAAs and glutamine.

With those sensitive to bloating with whey, the hemp protein is definitely recommended either by itself or a blend of hemp, pea and brown rice protein. It is naturally high in antioxidants and fiber so it is a great way to keep your insides healthy, get your protein fix and all the other benefits these plant based protein sources provide. Now that you are equipped with the pros and cons of each protein type, you can decide which is the best protein powder for building muscle for you.

Dr Mercola Vegan Protein Chocolate (Blend of Pea, Hemp, Chia, Chlorella & Potato Proteins, 750g)

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