PLANT PROTEIN VS WHEY PROTEIN: THE GREAT DEBATE
Firstly, why is Protein so important?
Protein is a vital nutrient and main building block for all living cells in the human body. Proteins are made up of amino acids both essential and non-essential, which are small molecules linked together. Proteins help in balancing blood sugar, necessary in muscle growth and recovery and are fundamental for weight management.
It is recommended to meet your daily intake of protein from whole foods that are protein-rich. These include chicken, fish, beef, tofu and beans though the most common alternative is through protein supplements, such as plant protein powder or whey protein powder. Each alternative can be valuable to your diet depending on the ingredients used. There are some products in the market that are saturated with sugars, additives and fillers that should not be consumed and can be detrimental to the human body. It is highly recommended to take a clean pure protein supplement that contains zero nasties for the longevity of your health and well being.
Before choosing, this is the low down…
Whey protein is derived from cheese, therefore containing milk making it a dairy product. Whey protein is a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids being: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. There are three main forms of whey protein; Whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein Isolate (WPI) and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) which all contain small amounts of lactose, which is a milk sugar that many individuals have an intolerance to and can be difficult to digest. As a direct result of whey being a by-product of cheese it is not vegan friendly.
Plant protein is an alternative for individuals who are vegan, vegetarian and lactose intolerant. The main plant based proteins include: pea, brown rice, hemp and soy. With an exception of soy, these proteins are considered hypoallergenic and contain no lactose or gluten making them easily digestible. The main factor with plant proteins is that when taken individually, not all contain the full nine essential amino acids. Both brown rice and hemp protein lack in lysine, therefore it is paramount to consume a combination of all plant-based proteins to obtain the full set of essential amino acids. Plant-based protein powders come individually or in a combination with the most commonly used combination being pea, brown rice and hemp.
Effectiveness in the fitness arena…
Both plant-based protein and whey protein are just as effective as each other when comparing the two in the fitness industry. As stated in the International Society of Sports Nutrition Journal, studies have shown that 48 grams of whey and brown rice protein delivered the same yield in muscle development and body composition over a two-month fitness program. Irrespective of whether the protein intake was whey or plant-based, the increased protein allowed the human body to convert food into power and strength.
What to consider…
Whatever your goal, there is a protein for you. These are the things to consider when choosing the right protein for you:
Digestibility – as stated above, whey contains lactose and many people have intolerance to lactose, which cause them to have digestive issues when consuming the protein. These issues include stomach discomfort, bloating, pain and diarrhoea. Plant proteins are lactose free and have a hypoallergenic effect on the body.
Sustainability – the hype around the world at this moment in time is about sustainable eating. Sustainable foods are better for the environment and healthier for the individuals consuming. Therefore, plant-based proteins are considered more sustainable in the long term rather than animal proteins.
Taste – preferences on taste is up to the individual consuming the product. It is known that some plant based protein powders can taste quite rough and chalky, so it is advised that you test the taste before you pick the right one for you. In regards to whey protein powders, some taste amazing but please check the sugar profile and ingredients, as this can be a direct result of added sugars and artificial flavours. Also consider how you will be using the protein powder to supplement, for example; in a shake with milk or water, added to foods or added into your smoothies, as this will guide what specific flavours you should choose.
I’m going to choose…
The decision is completely up to you. Many individuals will favour one over the other but the main underlying factor is to choose what protein better suits your goals and works for the wellness of your body. Avoid proteins that contain added, sugars, chemically enhanced ingredients, additives and fillers. Remember to do your research or ask a professional if you are having troubles choosing the right protein for you.