Protein is everywhere these days.
At one time, protein was viewed as only necessary for big, burly bodybuilders looking to increase the muscle mass, but nowadays, everyone from high school athletes to weekend warriors to soccer moms is hoping on the protein trend.
You need only look around at how many foods now showcase the words “protein” on the packaging for proof positive that protein is where it’s at in the food industry.
And, what’s not to love about protein?
It’s delicious, nutritious, and helps us build and repair muscle tissue.
Protein is also incredibly satiating, which is great if you’re trying to diet and lose a few pounds.
But, not all protein is created equal, especially when it comes to the type of protein in your supplements.
So, what makes one protein superior to another?
“Isn’t all protein more or less the same?”
In fact, there’s quite a bit of variability in both types and qualities of proteins that you can find, particular with respect to protein powder.
So, how do you decide what protein is right for you?
After all, there’s a lot of different options on the market. Of course you have an endless number of whey possibilities from which to choose, but there’s also casein protein, beef protein, soy protein, pea protein, and countless blends that combine a little bit of each form of protein.
So, how are you supposed to decide which protein is the best one for you?
Let’s discuss what makes for the best protein you can buy.
The first thing you need to consider is...
Amino Acid Profile
The most important thing you need to look for when sorting out what the best protein is, is its amino acid profile.
Protein is made up of long chains of peptides, which are created using amino acids.
Another way you can look at it is that amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins. Your body uses individual amino acids to synthesize protein which it uses to:
Repair damaged muscle tissue
Build new muscle tissue
Replace cells and tissues in the body
Synthesize neurotransmitters for proper cognitive and muscle function, and a whole lot more.
Now, your body needs very specific amino acids to perform each of these tasks. Some of the amino acids it needs, it can create itself. These are called the nonessential amino acids.
However, there are nine amino acids that the body cannot synthesize on its own and it must obtain them through the diet. These are known as the essential amino acids (EAAs), and without them you will not survive.
So, as you can imagine, what type of protein you choose to consume can have a significant impact on whether or not you’re getting enough of the essential amino acids (EAAs) you need to not only survive, but thrive as well.
And this is where it becomes important to look at the individual amino acid profiles of protein. Some are considerable better than others for our bodies.
If you're looking for more information about the importance of essential amino acids, click here.
In fact, the most important factor when assessing the quality of a protein, and if it’s the right one for you, is its amino acid composition as compared to the amino acid requirements of your body.
In other words, how good (or bad) a protein is, is based on whether or not it provides the amino acids your body needs to repair and build new cells and tissues.
For humans (you and me), the best protein is the one that provides all of the essential amino acids (EAAs) in sufficient amounts. This would then deliver all of the “raw materials” our bodies needs to repair, recover, and grow bigger, stronger, and faster.
When viewed in this light, that disqualifies the vast majority of plant proteins on the market. Plant proteins, by and large, are incomplete proteins, meaning that they are lacking in one (or more) of the essential amino acids we require to synthesize proteins.
If you’re really looking for the best protein money can buy, and the one that will offer you the most muscle building bang for your buck, you want animal protein.
Animal proteins (beef, chicken, pork, dairy, egg, fish) are rich in all of the essential amino acids you need to build and repair tissue. They’re also abundant in countless other essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to carry out its numerous biological functions that you keep you fit and healthy.
But, there are still differences within the animal protein “subcategory” of proteins. While each of them contain all of the essential amino acids, some are higher in certain essential amino acids compared to others.
For instance, beef is higher in leucine (the essential amino acid that sparks muscle growth) than chicken. But, on the flip side, chicken is also a bit higher in other essential amino acids compared to beef.
So, within the animal protein subcategory, how do you decide which of those is the best protein?
Click here to skip to the end and find out what the best protein is.
Let’s Talk About Protein Bioavailability
Bioavailability is a measure of how well your body uses what you put into it. To assess the bioavailability of a protein, you can look at a few different metrics, including biological value and PDAACS (Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score).
The biological value provides a measurement of how efficient the body utilizes the protein you consume. A food with a high biological value correlates to a high supply of the essential amino acids your body needs.
As we mentioned above, animal proteins typically contain a higher biological value than plant proteins due to most plants deficiency in one or more of the essential amino acids. But, biological value isn’t all you need to consider when sorting out the best quality protein.
You also need to take into account composition (which we discussed above) and digestibility. And, that’s where the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score comes into play.
Created in 1989 by the Food & Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO), PDCAAS is presently the most accepted and widely used method for assessing the overall quality of protein.
PDCAAS is measure of a protein's ability to provide sufficient amounts of essential amino acids for human needs. PDCAAS is calculated using an amino acid profile and true digestibility of a food protein.[3,4]
Here’s a table listing various protein sources, as well as their corresponding scores for Biological Value and PDCAAS.
After looking at the table, it’s pretty clear two protein sources stand apart as the better than the rest -- egg and whey protein.
Now, both of these protein sources are outstanding for building muscle and strength, and should be included in any athlete’s diet.
But if we’re going to really drill down and nitpick the differences between the two types of protein, let’s take a closer look and try to decide which is the “ultimate” protein.
Before we get to that, let’s discuss whey protein a bit...
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is one of two types of protein naturally occuring in milk. In case you were wondering what the other protein in dairy is, it’s casein.
Whey accounts for 20% of the protein in milk, while casein makes up the remaining 80%.
Both are involved in the cheese making process, as casein is the protein contained in the curds, while whey is the watery “leftovers” that result when the coagulating enzyme (usually renin) is added to milk to separate the curds from the whey.
The curds will be used to make cheese or, in other instances, casein protein while the watery whey will, of course, be processed, filtered, and dehydrated into whey protein powder.
Now, once you have the whey protein powder, it can be further refined into various types of whey protein.
So, before we answer whole “whey vs egg” question, let’s briefly discuss the different types of whey you’ll encounter, which we’ll then compare vs egg and finally see which is best for building muscle.
Types of Whey Protein
Once the whey has been strained off from the curds, it is then stored and awaits processing to become one of three different forms, beginning with:
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is the least refined form of whey. It can contain anywhere between 35-80% protein by volume, with the remaining percentages made up of a mix of carbohydrates and fats.
Whey concentrate varies the most in its protein content, and as such typically is higher in calories and lactose. The lactose is the big issue here, as too much of it can give those with even an iron stomach a serious case of GI distress.
Furthermore, manufacturers aren’t required to list the quality of their whey concentrate in their product, which means some batches you could get a concentrate that contains 80% protein while the next batch could include a cheaper concentrate using containing only 40-50% protein by mass.
Now, as the least processed, whey concentrate does retain higher amounts of important biofractions, such as immunoglobulins and lactoferrins which support immune function, but due to the highly variable nature and lack of standardization, whey concentrate isn’t our top choice for whey protein.
Fortunately, there’s an even better form of whey protein that is standardized and must contain a high amount of protein.
Click here to see the best form of whey protein!
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate takes the refining process a step further and filters out the vast majority of carbohydrates, lactose, and fat. The result is a powder that must contain at least 90% protein by mass.[6,7]
In more practical terms, that means that a scoop of whey protein isolate (before you add in any flavoring, thickeners, or additives) weighing 20 grams will contain at least 18 grams of protein. This is fantastic if you’re looking to maximize the amount of protein you get per serving, which you should if you’re buying a PROTEIN powder after all.
So, if we’re strictly focusing on maximizing our protein content, then whey isolate would be better than whey concentrate.
Additionally, whey isolate also contains extremely low amounts of carbohydrates and fats, as well as virtually no lactose.
This results in a whey protein supplement that is both very high in protein, low in calories, and low in lactose, which is great for those who might have experienced any sort of GI upset from lower qualities of whey concentrate.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about why whey protein isolate is the best form of whey.
Moreover, whey isolate also digests more quickly than whey protein, so while both may have identical amino acid profiles, those amino acids will get to your muscles faster from a whey isolate as opposed to a concentrate, which can be important if your trying to maximize recovery and muscle protein synthesis around training.
So, for our purposes here, we’re going to give the edge to whey protein isolate based on several factors:
Higher protein content
Lower in calories
Lower in fat
Lower in lactose
No GI upset
But, there’s still one other form of whey protein we need to consider when figuring out the best form of whey protein…
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
Also seen as hydrolyzed whey protein, whey protein hydrolysate take the refining process another step further than whey isolate and pre-digests your whey protein via the application of a set of chemical enzymes that break apart the peptide bonds in whey protein.
This leaves you with a protein that is incredibly fast digesting, but with this the enhanced speed comes several drawbacks:
The enzymes that were added to hydrolyze (break down) the protein bonds in whey protein leave the powder with a very noticeable “chemically”, metallic taste that rob whey protein of its delicious, palate-pleasing flavor.
Since hydrolysates are pre-digested and even more refined than isolates, they also lose some of the thick texture that concentrates and, to a lesser extent, isolates have. This results in a protein shake that has a very watery texture and isn’t very satisfying or enjoyable.
Due to the extra refining methods hydrolyzed whey protein has to go through, it is also considerably more expensive than isolates or concentrates. So not only are you getting a worse tasting, less satisfying protein, you’re also having to pay more money to not enjoy your protein too.
Now, there are those that will argue that the ultra-rapid digestion of hydrolyzed whey (as a result of the pre-digestion) makes it better for muscle growth compared to whey isolate; however, research shows otherwise.
For these reasons, whey protein isolate stands strong as the king of whey proteins. But, if you’re looking to learn even more about the differences between the various forms of protein...
Click here if you’d like to learn more about why whey protein isolate is superior.
Whey vs Egg Protein
Now that we’ve identified which form of whey protein is best, now we can get back to figuring out what the ultimate protein is between egg protein and whey protein.
If you remember from the table above, both had the same PDCAAS score, but whey protein had the slight edge over egg protein when looking at biological value (104 for whey vs 100 for egg protein).
Aside from this one minor difference, are there any other factors that could help us decide which protein is best?
“Wait a second, didn’t you already mention this?!”
We did, but when we were discussing the biological value of eggs, that’s taking the whole egg into account. When we’re looking for the best protein powder, things change.
You see when making an egg-based protein powder, only egg white protein is used, not whole eggs. This lowers the biological value from 100 to 88 (the fats in egg yolks enhance bioavailability and nutrition).
So, the biological value scores are 88 for egg compared to 104 for whey protein...that’s a pretty big difference if you ask us.
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice if you’ve had an egg-based protein powder is that it tastes like eggs.
That may sound obvious, but before or after a workout, the idea of chugging cold eggy water isn’t exactly appealing to us. Even worse, egg proteins also come with a rather unpleasant aftertaste when you’re finished drinking them.
Whey proteins, on the other hand, have a rich, thick texture and delicious taste. There’s also no nasty aftertaste when you’re finished with your shake.
Mixability can be the “make it or break it” moment for proteins. How many times have you gone to drink your protein and been assaulted by a gob of undissolved powder that explodes in your mouth, leaving you with a rather unpleasant sensation in your mouth.
Even worse are all those bits of powder stuck to the sides of your shaker that won’t dissolve, no matter how hard you shake. These “lost gains” add up over time and ultimately end up in the sink rather than your body, where they’re actually needed.
Egg protein suffers from poor mixability, producing lumps that aren’t enjoyable to chew through or scrape off the sides of your shaker.
Whey protein has near perfect mixability, easily dissolving into whatever liquid you’re using with a few simple shakes.
Satiety refers to how full you feel after consuming a given food. Here’s another area where whey protein beats egg protein. Research comparing numerous sources of protein found that whey protein was more satiating than egg white protein.
This is especially useful for individuals who are dieting and working with a limited daily calorie intake.
Cost is driven by supply and demand.
Since egg protein isn’t very popular and there’s not as big of a supply of it as whey protein, it is more expensive to produce, and as a result, is more expensive for you to purchase.
While the price of whey has increased in recent years, it’s still far and away the most widely available protein powder around with ample supply and numerous vendors to source it from. This means that whey is considerably more cheaper than egg protein on a pound for pound basis.
So, if you’re looking for the best deal on protein, whey is the way to go.
Speed of digestion is largely irrelevant for most people, but for the elite athlete, it can make a pretty significant difference in terms of recovery and muscle growth.
Egg protein has a speed of digestion somewhere between that of whey and casein. Whey digests very quickly, while casein can take up to 8 hours to digest. Egg falls in between those two, and if you’re looking to get in protein as fast as possible before or after a workout, the clear choice is whey protein.
Click here to learn more about whey protein and why it’s a must for all athletes!
Whey Protein is the Ultimate Protein
When you take it all together and factor in taste, texture, cost, mixability, and availability, the clear winner is whey protein isolate. Not only do you get a high amount of protein, containing ample amounts of essential amino acids (EAAs) and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), you also get a powder that mixes easily, is affordable, and tastes phenomenal.
Additionally, whey protein is also high in the amino acid cysteine, which your body uses to produce glutathione, an important antioxidant in the body that helps combat various disease and cleanse your system of other ne’er-do-wells.
Not All Isolates Are Created Equal
If you remember from our talks above, we mentioned that whey has to undergo certain refining processes in order to become a concentrate or isolate. Well, as it turns out, there’s not just one way to refine whey protein. There’s a few in fact, and depending on which refinement method is used can have a pretty big impact on the overall quality of your whey protein isolate.
So, what are the various refining methods used?
Cold-Pressed vs Ion Exchange
When refining whey protein, the process can either be carried out using heat or not. However, in recent years, manufacturers have moved away from refining methods that use heat due to the fact that exposure to high temperatures kills certain immunoprotective components of whey and changes the shape of the protein.
Cold-Pressed is a type of High Pressure Processing (HPP) that uses pressure in lieu of heat. This type of processing technique is typically used for raw dairy products so people don’t get bacterial infections and become severely ill.
As a result, cold-filtered whey protein contains a higher concentration of the aforementioned immunoprotective components and nutrients versus whey proteins processed at high or low temperatures.
On the other end of the protein refining spectrum is ion exchange which uses ion exchange resins, charge affinity, and slight pH adjustments to separate out the whey from milk.
Ion exchange resins are polymers that swap specific ions within the polymer with ions in a solution that passes through the resin.
Manufacturers can tweak the pH of the solution to remove various impurities and undesired materials. While the ion exchange process does increase protein content and offer greater selectivity to manufacturers, it comes at the cost of decreased concentrations of bioactive subfractions. Ion exchange also alters the structure of the proteins, and since the resins don’t actually serve as filters, may contain bacteria and other microorganisms you’d rather not ingest unknowingly.
For these reasons, cold-pressed, cross-flow microfiltered protein is what you want when looking for the best protein powder.
Click here to see the best protein powder!
Beware Protein Spiking…
When you purchase chicken breast from the store, you want just chicken. You wouldn’t want it if it was pumped full of a bunch of extra amino acids and fillers would you?
We didn’t think so.
But, that’s exactly what happened for years and years in the protein powder market. Unscrupulous manufacturers and companies would lace whey protein powders with all sorts of free from amino acids including taurine, creatine, and glutamine, all in the effort to artificially inflate the protein content and make you think you were getting more protein than you actually were.
In reality, these companies were screwing consumers out of actual protein, and instead giving you a bunch of nonessential amino acids in lieu of complete protein.
For the most part, this trend has ended after several lawsuits were filed, but there’s still a few products out there stuffing extra amino acids in their protein.
To protect yourself and ensure you’re getting a true protein powder, and not some overpriced amino acid supplement, make sure the ingredients list includes just protein and no free from amino acids.
The Bottom Line on the Ultimate Protein
Taking everything into consideration (cost, availability, taste, texture, nutrient density), whey protein is the clear option for individuals looking to build muscle, burn fat, and maximize their fitness.
Whey protein isolate offers the ideal mix of all factors and present you with an option that is not only insanely delicious, high in mTOR-stimulating leucine, and rich in immune-boosting compounds, but it’s also extremely affordable and widely available.
And, when you’re looking for the best whey protein isolate on the market, there’s only one place you need to look...
ISOLIT -- The Ultimate Whey Protein
To meet the needs of athletes, Primeval Labs has developed ISOLIT -- a 100% pure whey protein isolate protein powder utilizing triple-filtered, cold-pressed, cross-flow microfiltered whey protein isolate.
Each scoop of ISOLIT delivers a robust 25 grams of high quality protein per serving while limiting unnecessary carbohydrates, fats, and lactose.
We’ve also included the patented DigeSEB Plus blend, which includes a diverse matrix of digestive enzymes that improves nutrient breakdown and absorption.
The end result is an incredibly pure protein that is easy on the stomach and delivers all of the essential amino acids your muscles need to repair and grow.
But that’s not all.
We’ve also spent countless hours perfecting both the taste and texture of ISOLIT, leaving your with a protein that will tantalize your tastebuds. Through our unique processing and flavoring techniques, we’ve created an isolate protein that delivers all of the mouth-coating, palate-pleasing taste and texture of whey protein concentrate without the extraneous carbohydrates, lactose, and fat.
As an added bonus, ISOLIT also retains many of the beneficial lactoferrins and immunoglobulins due to our cold-environment processing techniques.
In the end, ISOLIT stands alone as the best tasting whey protein powder on the market.
Click here to try ISOLIT for yourself and experience the protein choice for champions!
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