July 23, 2020 4 min read
Protein alternatives or supplements are a popular protein source used by people who need to increase their protein intake for reasons like sports and to increase muscle mass.
As veganism grows by leaps and bounds daily, the demand for alternatives to animal proteins is also rising. Protein supplements come in powder form and are commonly just referred to as protein powders.They can be taken as a protein shake by simply mixing with water or incorporated into smoothies.
In this article, we'll look at different types of proteins and different protein supplements, but before all that, it's important to know a little bit more about how they're classified.
Proteins are a nutrient found in both plant products such as soy, nuts and beans; and animal products such as milk, eggs, meat and fish. They are made up of molecules called amino acids. Protein supplements are mostly classified according to how they're made and what they contain.
This is a protein obtained from different sources and then concentrated by removing the parts of the food that are not protein. This gives a supplement which is 70 to 85% pure protein and 15 to 30% carbohydrate and fats.
The protein concentrate can be purified further by removing a bigger percentage of the non- protein parts. The resulting protein isolate contains 95% protein.
Our bodies can produce some amino acids but not others. Those that the body can't produce are called essential amino acids and they have to be sourced from external foods. Animal proteins contain all essential amino acids.
These contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. Plant proteins mostly fall here.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can look at the most common protein supplements out there.
Whey protein is currently the most popular protein alternative. It is a by-product formed from the manufacture of cheese from milk. It's absorbed quickly into the body, which makes it good as an after-workout drink.
Whey is also indigestible for some people as it contains lactose. However, if it suits your digestive system, it is probably the best protein supplement to get your hands on.
This product contains hydrolyzed whey isolate with all the essential amino acids. Hydrolyzed whey is whey that has already been partially broken down to make it easier to digest.
Did you know that rice has protein as well as carbohydrates? Now you know! Brown rice is a great source of protein powder, especially for vegetarians and vegans.
It also contains a good number of complex carbohydrates like vitamin B, and is a good source of fiber. It is easy to digest and is almost completely used up in the body.
The one disadvantage of rice protein is that, as it is a plant bases protein, it lacks all the essential amino acids
This is a great source of rice protein. The rice is sprouted through a traditional process of bio-fermentation, after which enzymes are added to hydrolyze the carbohydrate part and produce an 80% pure protein supplement that is easy to digest.
Pea protein is obtained from yellow split peas. This plant-based protein is also good for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike its animal-product counterparts, it rarely causes allergies and has few artificial additives.
In case you don't like peas, you don't need to worry. It tastes nothing like peas. As with the rice protein, pea protein lacks some amino acids and shouldn't be taken without other complete proteins.
This is an organic, prebiotic, raw, and dairy-free supplement that contains a blend of both rice and pea protein. It is enhanced with live digestive enzymes to make digestion even easier. It contains the complete set of amino acids, and comes in exciting vanilla or cacao coconut flavors.
Hemp protein is obtained from cannabis seeds. Like rice and pea proteins, hemp seeds are vegan-friendly and hypoallergenic. Due to their connection with the cannabis plant however, hemp seeds are difficult to get and hence are the most expensive protein supplement.
This protein powder is a good source of hemp seed protein. It contains pea protein, hemp protein, goji berries and coconut. The plant-based formula is also hypoallergenic and tastes great!
Casein is produced by isolating milk protein from carbohydrates and fats. Its benefits are almost the same as those of whey protein but unlike whey, casein protein takes time to digest, which makes it a great before-bedtime snack.
This also means that it can't be used as an after workout supplement, unless you take a combination of both whey and casein.
In addition to both whey and casein, this product also contains other active ingredients like digestive enzymes and choline. It tastes great and can be added to smoothies or just taken with water.
Protein supplements and alternatives containing egg protein also come rich in minerals and vitamins to enhance your diet. They are made by separating the yolk from the egg white and then drying out (dehydrating) the egg white.
Some protein supplements come in a combination of whey, casein, and egg, like Pro JYM. It contains a blend of fast-digesting and slow-digesting enzymes, so it gives you a quick boost after working out but its effects last longer in the body and continue building muscle long after you've left the gym.
Protein alternatives and supplements are a great way of enhancing your diet, especially if you have an active lifestyle. For great results, always go for good brands that use organic ingredients and avoid buying powders which have lots of artificial additives like sweeteners.
Keep in mind also that different people need different levels of protein. Do what works best for you.
Finally, remember that protein supplements are just that- supplements. They should not replace whole- food sources of protein in your diet.