Protein Handbook For Beginners: The Value Of Protein Supplements.

Supplements can be extremely valuable to the busy bodybuilder particularly if you are at work or on the go. Learn what protein is best for you here.
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6. The Value of Protein Supplements.

The biggest advantage of protein supplements is not that they can build more muscle than turkey, chicken or egg whites or any other whole food protein, the biggest advantage is the convenience. Throwing down a protein drink or munching on a protein bar is much more convenient than preparing, cooking and cleaning up after cooking full meals.

Supplements can also be extremely valuable to the busy bodybuilder particularly if you are at work or on the go. They can also be extremely important when trying to add in an extra protein meal or two to maintain constant blood levels of amino acids.

Buyers beware because not all protein supplements are created equal. For instance several less than superior meal replacements products on the market today contain a large inferior protein sources (some denatured from the manufacturing process) while others contain high amounts of sugars added for taste, while still others in an effort to support today's "low carb lifestyle" contain large amounts of hydrogenated oils.

Several studies have shown that hydrogenated oils can interfere with the body's important metabolic processes. These studies have shown that they can cause weakness and low energy levels, interfere with liver detoxification, insulin function, decrease testosterone production and increase heart disease; all extremely undesirable effects for the athlete and aspiring bodybuilder.

Another advantage of supplemental protein sources is that they are manufactured to be digested faster than whole protein sources. In addition to rapid digestion, a very high percentage of good protein powders are completely digested and absorbed due to the amino acid profiles of the supplements and the lack of lactose or fat.

Today many supplemental proteins are also partially hydrolyzed (broken down) when processed. Therefore they require less natural GI processing before absorption.

Protein supplements can also offer significant advantages over whole food sources. Good protein supplements can provide the needed amino acids, which are building blocks of muscle, as well as many other important supplements with adding extra, unneeded, fat contributing calories. Some of the better meal replacement products on the market today can also offer a lean enhanced nutritional profile that is hard to match while in the kitchen.

Protein Supplement Sources/Types

Egg Albumin Protein:

    Egg whites are what I survived on when I started bodybuilding over 25 years ago. Egg protein (especially egg white) was considered the best protein for bodybuilders because it possesses a very high ratio of essential to nonessential amino acids.

    Egg protein often gets a bad rap because egg yolks have a lot of cholesterol--and, therefore may slightly affect blood cholesterol levels. However recent research by Harvard researchers have shown that moderate egg consumption--up to one a day--does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can actually increase well being because eggs contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate.4

    People with diabetes and people who have difficulty controlling their blood cholesterol should be cautious about eating egg yolks and should probably opt for egg whites instead.

    Although eggs should be part of a bodybuilder's staple, they should not be the only source today, for several reasons, such as:

    • The ratio of Branch-chain amino acids to essentials is not as good as many of the supplements available today (for instance, whey protein contains almost twice as much leucine as egg protein).

    • The Biological Value is only 91 (instead of 100 when consuming only the egg whites).

    • Additionally, many people can not tolerate eating a lot of egg protein because of bloating and gas.

"Complete Milk Protein":

    Milk protein is rich in calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid and vitamin B12 which is absent in vegetarian food items.

    "Complete milk protein" is a whole milk protein that is separated from the other constituents of cow's milk by a natural, concentrated source of casein and whey milk isolated from skim milk by a special high molecular weight membrane separation.

    Since no PH changes or excessive heat are used in the processing, the protein retains more of the biologically active protein fractions that are limiting in other protein sources Studies have shown that the bioactive proteins found in whey and casein may reduce two major risk factors contributing to the worldwide incidence of cardiovascular disease: hypertension and dyslipidemia.5

    I'm a big advocate of milk protein because it contains both whey and casein. Because milk protein is a perfect blend of casein and whey protein it can provide the best of both proteins, yielding great results.

    This combination provides the important bioactive protein fractions, plus both rapid and extended protein activity in the body which increases protein synthesis and minimizes catabolic action.

    This is why almost all MRP's use the blend as the base for their mix of protein. As such it should make up a large portion of your supplemental protein intake.

Soy Protein:

    Soy protein is a high quality protein (equal to egg protein in providing amino acids) that is both low in saturated fat and high in other healthful compounds.

    Regarding muscle building I don't think that soy protein offers benefits for bodybuilders. For example, unlike casein, it doesn't form a good curd in the stomach, which makes it a fast protein.

    Also, the amino acid pattern in soy is inferior to that of milk proteins and not as favorable for promoting growth. Soy alone offers little benefit for bodybuilders, but as an addition to an already rich protein spectrum it may provide several important benefits.

      View Top Selling Soy Protein Here.

Soy Protein Isolate:

    Soy isolate can increase the Biological Value of soy. Soy protein isolate has been shown to enhance thyroid hormone output, which can increase metabolic rate to support fat loss.

    However the isolation process can reduce the amount of high-quality protein, isoflavones, essential fatty acids, fiber, lecithin, and other beneficial nutrients. Which again, makes this source less desirable than others in regards to being a main source to a bodybuilder for promoting muscular growth?

Calcium Caseinate (Casein):

    Casein is a protein that is isolated from milk (like whey). One of the components of casein, k-casein or kappa-casein, stabilizes the casein micelle. Casein is linked with cations, mainly calcium. The casein micelles are broadly a calcium-caseinate-phosphate complex.

    Casein is comprised of 92% protein and is found in your common weight gainers for that thick taste. Comes in various forms including calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate and micellar casein.

    One of the primary benefits of protein synthesized from casein is that it is used more directly in muscle-building than protein synthesized from whey (which is more readily used as an alternate source of energy).

    The less chance you have of a protein being used as energy, the more carbohydrates you use as energy. The more carbohydrates you use, the fewer carbohydrates stored as fat. So casein may prevent you getting fat too fast... one of the reasons casein may be a preferred choice for those trying to optimize lean muscle mass.

    Casein also has a very high natural peptide form based glutamine (Peptide form is absorbed better due to peptide transport systems in the digestive tract). Glutamine Peptides are recognized to be the most bioavailable form of Glutamine available and are estimated to be absorbed at a rate that is approximately double that of equivalent amounts of free form L-Glutamine.

    Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid that makes up 60% of the free amino acids in skeletal muscle. It is well recognized throughout the athletic community for its positive effects on growth hormone, testosterone, cell volumization, immunity, and protein synthesis in muscle.

    Casein also contains bioactive ACE inhibiting peptides called casokinins. Casein isn't cheap; it costs more than a whey protein concentrate. From a nutritional standpoint, caseinate has no drawbacks, and is a high-quality protein source.

    Another benefit of casein is that it has a timed-release effect regulating the release of amino acids into your blood stream at a slow steady pace (like the processing of a low glycemic carbohydrate). It does this by forming a gel in the gut to slow the transit time of amino acids. This significantly decrease protein breakdown.

    Therefore casein consumption can lead to a slower and more prolonged appearance of plasma amino acid levels resulting in a better net protein balance in the body than you get with whey protein which is why it is often referred to as an "anti-catabolic" protein.

    Preventing catabolism can create an optimum environment for muscle growth. The slow "timed release" effect of casein can significantly inhibit catabolic protein breakdown in the body, making it an ideal choice for your last meal before sleep or for breakfast to provide a steady stream of amino acids in the morning.

      View Top Selling Casein Protein Here.

Whey Protein:

    Whey Protein is a milk protein is a by-product of cheese production. Until about 25 years ago whey was considered a waste product of the dairy industry.

    You made cheese or casein from milk, and the by-product of the manufacturing process was whey. Whey contains one of the Highest Biological Value proteins providing 21 grams of 100% biologically active muscle building protein whey protein per serving and is an excellent protein sources because it is high in branched chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine, isoleucine, and valine which play a key role in the muscle building process). In fact, whey protein contains about 25% BCAA's - the highest of any protein source.

    Whey protein is considered a "Fast Acting" protein because its short chains and peptides make it available for absorption within approximately 20 minutes of ingestion. This is amazingly fast in comparison to its counter part casein or even whole food. It is this property that makes whey an excellent choice as a post-workout recovery supplement.

    Whey protein can also provide several not so evident benefits to all that consume it. Studies have also shown that bioactive quadrapeptides in whey protein may reduce the risk to cardiovascular disease and through these functions:

    • ACE inhibitory activity (e.g., lactokinins)
    • Opioid-like activity (pain-killing effects)
    • Antithrombotic activity
    • Cholesterol-reducing activity4
    • Antioxidant activity

    Two things worth mentioning however, whey protein is lower in natural glutamine and arginine content, is less filling than other more slower absorbed proteins such as casein.

      View Top Selling Whey Protein Here.

Casein Whey Protein Mixes:

    Both whey protein and casein provide beneficial effects. They're absorbed at different rates and elicit different metabolic responses. In reality, they complement each other and should be consumed together for maximum benefit.

    Milk protein isolate is an example of a casein whey protein mix. Casein Whey Protein Mixes are very beneficial because the casein slows down the digestion of the whey protein creating an overall extended sustained time release of protein into the blood.

    Additionally, this fast- and slower-acting protein combination works well for maximizing growth because the mixes can provide all the benefits of the quality whey protein (e.g., bioactive peptides that may reduce the risk to cardiovascular disease, intact immunoglobulins to support immune function, the highest concentration of BCAA's, a high biological value which means it is readily absorbed and utilized by human muscle tissue, high levels of valuable protein fractions, such as glycomacropeptides, proteose peptone and lactoferrin, etc.) as well as the beneficial properties of casein (e.g., biologically active peptides, high levels of glutamine, bioactive ACE inhibiting peptides called casokinins, etc.).

Protein Processing Methods

Besides picking a good protein source it is also very important to look at the processing techniques. The processing can alter the complement of proteins that were present in the unprocessed raw material.

Processing techniques will also determine whether the important protein micro fractions (the compounds that give whey its functional benefits) are still intact and are not destroyed or denatured (nor are the active peptides lost).

Soy Protein Processing:

    In the manufacturing of soy protein isolate from soybean cotyledons the process involves initial delipidation of crushed cotyledon with hexane, solubilization of the de-fatted proteins in an alkaline buffer (to remove insoluble complex carbohydrate material), and finally precipitation of the proteins in an acidic solution (pH 5) to remove soluble materials, mostly carbohydrates.

    This last step however also removes some important some protein factions. In addition, the mild alkaline treatment could lead to hydrolysis in sensitive regions of the proteins. The net result is that the protein profile of the soy isolate is different from the whole soybean.

    As a consequence, attempts to purify soy into different fractions to identify the substances that lead to its alleged beneficial health effects may be compromised by the changing protein composition background in each fraction.

    However, as noted earlier, the role of short peptides, either naturally short or produced from partial hydrolysis of soy proteins during processing or fermentation, is newly appreciated in food nutrition science.6

Milk Protein Processing:

    Micellar Casein:

      Although micellar casein is more expensive, it is entirely a higher quality protein. Being produced without chemicals, micellar casein is in its native form and is of nearly perfect quality.

      Micellar casein will either be called "micellar casein" or "milk protein isolate/concentrate." They are exactly the same thing as both are mostly micellar casein with a small amount of whey. Caseinates, on the other hand, are produced through a chemical reaction. Although very pure protein products, they are denatured and of inferior quality. We recommend staying away from these proteins.

      Casein is very stable and resistant to PH or heat denaturation when compared to whey proteins. Many people confuse casein with caseinate, which is made by adjusting the PH of acid casein toward a more neutral level by using an alkali.

      The resultant caseinate is more soluble in water than acid casein and provides a better mouth feel in food products. Casein, in its native micelle structure, however, forms a stable suspension in water and contains a number of biologically active peptide sequences that could be of great value to athletes.

    Whey Protein Concentrate:

      Whey protein concentrates are derived from sweet dairy whey. Most of the fat and lactose and other unwanted materials are removed. Whey protein concentrates are processed at low temperatures and low acid conditions and are typically comprised of about 70 % - 80% proteins, 4% fat and 3% carbohydrates (varies by quality and manufacturer).

      Whey protein concentrate contains 6 to 7 percent lactose (vs. only 1% for whey isolates). The low temperature and low acid filtration ensures that about 90% - 96% of the protein remains intact (un-denatured), retaining most of the active peptides important for growth.

      One reason whey concentrate has become very popular within the supplement industry because of cost. These companies can tout that their product is "100% whey" however what they do not tell you is that they are not providing the "best whey" which in my book is whey isolate, a more bio-available source.

      I am not saying that whey protein concentrate is useless and can provide gains when combined with other good protein sources and hard workouts; however in my opinion whey isolate is a much preferred source and will result in better gains.

    Whey Protein Isolate:

      Quality whey protein isolate provides key microfractions like alpha lactalbumin and glycomacropeptides which can both positively support immune function, as well as a very high concentration of branched chain amino acids which can positively affect lean muscle mass and lower muscle breakdown.

      It also enhances glutathione levels in the body (glutathione is the body's most powerful natural anti-oxidant and is a key part of the immune system), features high digestibility and absorption rate, contains virtually no lactose and very low fat.

    Ion Exchange Whey Protein:

      This process was developed approximately 20 years ago. This process revolved around the positive and negative charges, or ion properties, of whey proteins, using an electrical charge to react with the proteins to filter out only the protein.

      Ion exchange whey protein isolates are also derived from sweet dairy whey. The ion exchange process yields a product that contains more than 90% protein content (vs. 70% to 80% percent protein found in whey concentrate).

      True ion-exchange whey yields a clear product in solution, which is an advantage if you're using it in bottled protein drinks. Regarding taste, the product tastes well, mixes easily and is moderately priced.

      One disadvantage of the ion exchange process however, is that important peptides can be come denatured (useless). This is an important point, because although ion exchange whey protein can contain a higher protein percentage, the lower amount of intact peptides could mean less effectiveness when compared to some of the higher quality whey concentrate based supplements.

      Another potential disadvantage is that studies show that ion-exchange whey protein isolates can contain percentages of beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin that are significantly different from the proportions found in mother's milk.

      Additionally, true ion-exchange whey protein isolate typically does not contain appreciative levels of biologically active whey protein fractions, such as lactoferrin.

      This is because the ion exchange process does not capture and retain the smaller biologically active whey protein fractions. This is a notable disadvantage of ion exchange proteins since there are numerous studies that demonstrate the important health benefits of active whey protein fractions, such as glycomacropeptides, proteose peptone and lactoferrin. FYI - Among other properties lactoferrin is a potent immune system booster and has strong antiviral properties.

    Micro Filtration (Ultra Filtration) Whey Protein:

      Micro filtration (Ultra filtration) is a process which uses filtering membranes to screen out fat and lactose, resulting in a whey product containing up to 85 percent protein and as little as 1 percent fat.

      The primary disadvantage of the filtered whey proteins as opposed to the ion-exchange variety is that the filtered types aren't as pure. True ion-exchange protein can approach 90 percent pure protein, while filtered whey protein isolates average approximately 85 to 87% percent protein.

      Filtered whey also contains slightly higher fat and lactose contents, although the differences aren't significant to the average consumer. Filtered whey proteins also have advantages however. They include higher levels of valuable whey protein fractions, such as glycomacropeptides, proteose peptone and lactoferrin.

    Cross Flow Micro Filtration Whey Protein:

      Cross flow micro filtration methods were developed to solve some of the denaturing problems that were seen with the ion exchange method. It is similar to the micro filtration process.

      The process is used to make this protein highly soluble and retain a higher level of calcium. It yields a good proportion of BCAA's and is an excellent source of fuel. Avenmore/Waterfordand patents this process as such there is an added cost for the product but if it is within your budget, it is worth the extra cost.

      The cross flow micro filtration process produces an isolate that is greater than 90% protein with no fat or lactose, and unlike the ion exchange process cross flow micro filtration leaves almost 100% of the protein and the important peptides intact.

    Protein Hydrolysates:

      Protein Hydrolysates are proteins that have been broken into small chains of amino acids called peptides by enzymes. Protein Hydrolysates are more easily digested and typically have a reduced potential for allergic reactions versus non-hydrolyzed proteins.

      Hydrolyzed protein contain peptides that are absorbed well due to peptide transport systems in the digestive tract. Studies have shown that hydrolyzed proteins may be absorbed in about half the time that it takes whole proteins. The benefit is that the rapid delivery can provide the body with the nutrition it needs when it is needed most like after intense weight training workouts, leading to quicker recovery (and increased muscle mass).

      One disadvantage of predigested protein is you lose the "thermic effect" (the energy expended to digest, process, and absorb undigested protein). I am also wary of hydrolyzed protein because the heat-treatment and pre-digestion processing can destroy/denature many of the protein micro fractions, including all of its beneficial growth factors and immunoglobulins.

      However, if done properly protein hydrolysates can be more effective than whole protein sources regarding muscle synthesis because they can be quickly absorbed into the blood stream.

    Hydrolyzed Whey:

      Hydrolyzed Whey is abundant in L-Glutamine. Why this is important? It is also naturally rich in anti-catabolic Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). Hydrolyzed whey protein is found frequently in protein bars.

        Top Selling L-Glutamine Products Here.


      Lactalbumin refers to a protein powder manufactured from whey using a high heat process. Since high heat and acid are used in the manufacture of lactalbumin, most of the vital whey protein fractions present in the powder become denatured or broken apart. I would not recommend this product because of this.

    View Top Selling Whey Protein Here.
    View Top Selling Soy Protein Here.
    View Top Selling Casein Protein Here.

Take Protein Quiz #6!

 Pick The Most Appropriate Answers, Then Click "Calculate".
1. True Or False: All Proteins Are Created Equal.
A. True.
B. False.
2. True Or False: Egg Albumin Protein Is The Highest Quality
    Protein You Can Consume.
A. True.
B. False.
3. True Or False: Hydrolyzed Whey Is Abundant In
A. True.
B. False.

Answers Will Display Here After Pressing "Calculate".

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