Until fairly recently, whey-based proteins dominated the protein powder market. Over recent years, plant-based alternatives have become more commonplace and increasingly popular, and not just with vegans.
Whey based proteins aren’t suitable for everyone, whatever your dietary preferences. Some people still prefer whey-based products, believing that they’re more effective. One simple nutritional fact that can’t be denied is that we all need protein and protein powders are a great way of ensuring we get enough.
Why protein matters
Protein is vital if we wish to stay healthy, have energy and enjoy life. When it comes to exercise, protein performs an important set of functions. When you exercise, particularly distance running, you’re inevitably breaking down muscle. Consuming protein helps to repair the damage and build it back up. Protein gives you that all-important energy, makes you feel fuller for longer and can be a vital tool when it comes to weight loss and management.
So when it comes to ensuring you have the protein you need to support a healthy diet and to achieve your weight loss goals, which type of protein is best?
Let’s dive in…
How are they made?
First, let’s look at whey-based protein powders. Whey is a liquid byproduct of cheesemaking. To make whey-based protein powders this is isolated and the carbohydrates, fat, water and other unwanted elements are then removed. The whey that remains is then spray-dried into a powder. Whey is a complete protein, which is one reason why it’s been used so extensively in protein powders.
Plant-based proteins, on the other hand, are derived from a range of different plants. These are typically, pea, brown rice, soy and hemp.
Our Replace powder contains a blend of pea, rice and hemp powder, and our Recover powder is a mix of pea and rice protein. By blending different sources of plant protein it ensures that the powder contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs.
When you opt for a plant protein powder, you’re also choosing a protein that’s higher in fibre and antioxidants, two important nutrients that are lower in proteins derived from animal sources, including whey.
Food intolerance and digestibility
A huge drawback with whey protein for many people is that it contains lactose. This is one of the most common food sensitivities, and in many cases means that anything containing lactose need to be avoided by lactose-intolerant individuals.
Even if you opt for whey protein isolate, where the amount of lactose is reduced, it can still make you unwell, leading to stomach upset, bloating and gas, particularly if you’re highly sensitive. This means it’s not a realistic option for many people.
Plant-based protein powders remove this problem and have made protein powders a real option for people who previously couldn’t use them because of this issue. If you have any food sensitivities, a good way to find out which is the right one for you is to try powders with slightly different ingredients. As a general rule, plant-based protein powders are less likely to cause any issues for most people.
There’s very little difference in how quickly either whey or plant-based proteins are digested and get to work in your body. Both give your body a rapid shot of protein allowing it to recover and rebuild after exercise.
Which is best for the planet?
The dairy industry is one of the world’s biggest sources of carbon emissions. For that reason, as well as concerns about animal cruelty, increasing numbers of people are opting for plant-based diets.
Whey protein is derived from the dairy industry and is a way in which large dairy companies can gain an income from some of their byproducts. While this may reduce wastage overall it does means that whey protein relies on a large global dairy industry. In fact, to create relatively small amounts of whey protein powder takes large amounts of milk.
As most milk and dairy products are not organic, the cows that produced the milk may well have been fed hormones to increase their yield and other antibiotics. It’s feasible that these can find their way into whey protein powders.
Plant-based proteins are derived from naturally grown products and help to capture carbon, improve the soil and promote sustainable water and food supplies. Plant-based proteins are not only good for your body, but they’re also good for the planet.
Plant and cricket proteins deliver all the benefits that you can get from whey protein without any of the environmental and dietary downsides. It’s for that reason that plant and cricket-based protein alternatives are growing in popularity.
Want to know more?
Check out our products and see what takes your fancy.
And if you’ve got any questions about this article or any of our protein powders, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.