As you can see, in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a huge difference. A whey concentrate is usually adequate for most people. We are not going to argue over a difference of 10 kcals, 2g of protein, 0.4g carbs and 1.8g fat! Don’t waste energy sweating the small stuff!
Casein is also derived from milk, but the main difference from whey is the speed of absorption. Whey is absorbed quickly, making it a good option after a workout. Casein is absorbed much slower and so provides a steady release of amino acids over a longer period of time. Some research suggests having casein pre-bed for this reason. Our recommendation: if you just want a protein to have after your exercise session or with your oats for breakfast stick with whey.
Soy protein is a plant based protein and so is suitable for vegans and those wanted to experiment with a more plant based diet. There tends to be more favours of soy protein available compared to other plant based proteins. In a recent study of 17 participants it was shown that having a soy based smoothie at breakfast had comparable effects to a whey based smoothie in relation to appetite profile, energy metabolism and subsequent energy intake, suggesting that soy is a reasonable alternative to whey as a protein supplement source to help control weight (Melson et al, 2019). There are often questions and articles on soy and breast cancer risk. Current evidence suggests that eating moderate amounts of soy as part of a balanced diet does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
What the research says: One study in young men showed that whey protein increase muscle protein synthesis 31% more than soy protein and 122% more than casein protein following a bout of resistance exercise (Tang et al, 1985).
Pea protein is more or less what it sounds like: protein extracted from peas. It is plant based and so another option for vegans or those with a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy. It does not contain all the essential amino acids and you may need to add a sweetener as flavour options are often limited.
Choosing which supplement to buy
As you can see there are a lot of options to choose from and that’s just a little snapshot of some of them. We take protein supplements ourselves at Hustle. to help reach our protein targets, and we each have our own personal favourite. But we want to stress that supplements are not magic powders, and are no more effective than protein rich foods. What they do offer however is convenience.
If you are considering buying a supplement, think of it in that sense. To supplement an already good quality diet, not to substitute whole food sources. Choose one based on your dietary preferences, food intolerances & allergies, budget and health & fitness goals.
If you are trying to lose weight, don’t forget to track your protein supplements as these have calories too. Most have 100-130 kcals per serving. So, if you are taking them in addition to your typical diet or as an extra snack that puts you in a calorie surplus you may be hindering your weight loss attempts. Having excess calories from any source can cause weight gain, protein is no different. If you use an app such as My Fitness Pal, scan the barcode for the macronutrient and calorie breakdown.