Whey Vs Plant Based Protein

Whey Vs Plant Based Protein

Taking in enough protein in your diet is important for maintaining your health. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, your body does not have cells that are specialized to store protein, according to SFGate.[1] If you do not eat enough protein, your body will break down muscle to get the amino acids that you need. Harvard Medical School reports that the recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.8 grams for every kilogram of your body’s weight.

However, Harvard reports that research into the amount of protein that you need is ongoing, and people may safely eat between 15 and 25 percent of their total daily calories from protein sources. [2] Because of the importance of protein, many athletes, bodybuilders and other health-conscious people supplement with protein powders.

There are two primary types of protein powders, including dairy-based and plant-based powders. It is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each when you are trying to decide the type of protein powder to take.

Dairy-based protein powders

There are two types of milk proteins that can be used to make protein powders, including casein and whey protein. The protein that is found in milk is 80 percent casein. Casein is not as popular of a choice for dairy-based protein powders because it can cause allergic reactions in some people, according to Nootropics Info.[3] Casein does offer several benefits, including the following:

  • It is a slow-acting protein that your body can use throughout the day;
  • It can be used for an energy boost before intense workouts;
  • It can help you with your recovery after you work out; and
  • It offers a rich source of amino acids.

Whey protein is much more common in dairy-based protein powders. During the cheesemaking process, whey is the liquid substance that separates from the curds. The curds contain the casein. Like casein, whey protein is a great source of amino acids.

Best-selling author and former pro soccer player Yuri Elkaim reports that whey is a fast-absorbing protein source, leading to its popularity among bodybuilders and athletes.[4] However, he also notes that there are several downsides to dairy-based protein powders.

Some people are lactose-intolerant and may have side effects when taking dairy-based protein powders even if they are not allergic. This may include bloating, gas and excess mucus production. Whey protein may also be cross-contaminated with toxins and hormones if it is not taken from organic and high-quality sources.

Plant-based protein powders

There are several different types of protein powders that are derived from plants. Some of the more popular types are derived from soybeans, brown rice, hemp and peas. Each of these plant-based protein powders has its advantages and disadvantages.

Soy protein powder

Soy protein comes from soybeans and is derived when the beans have their hulls removed. The fats are also removed, and the beans are processed into powder. Soy protein is a complete source of amino acids and may be a good choice for people who have allergies or who are vegan. However, soy protein has several drawbacks, including the following:

  • Has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer in women
  • Increases estrogen production in the body, which can lead to the growth of breast tissue in men and ovarian cysts in women
  • Likely to be derived from genetically modified organisms

The Susan G. Komen Foundation recommends that women avoid taking soy supplements because they may encourage the growth of cancerous breast cancer tumors.[5] The USDA reports that as much as 94 percent of all of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified organisms, giving additional reasons for people to avoid soy protein supplementation.[6]

Brown rice protein powder

Brown rice protein powder provides you with about 24 grams of protein per scoop. It also offers you a good source of fiber, phosphorous and iron. It is hypoallergenic and is easy to digest. However, it is not a complete protein, meaning that you will have to supplement it with other proteins in order to get all of the amino acids that you need.

Hemp protein powder

Hemp protein powders are derived from hemp seeds and offer an excellent choice for people who are vegans. It is not a complete protein, however. If you choose to take hemp protein powder, you will need to supplement it with lysine. Hemp protein powder also provides you with a healthy dose of good fats such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for your cardiovascular system’s health.

Pea and fermented pea protein powders

Pea protein is difficult for your body to digest and may cause discomfort. Fermented pea protein powder is easier for your body to digest and may be a better option. The fermentation process also helps to supply your digestive tract with probiotics. It also is a complete protein, meaning that it can provide you with the amino acids that you need.

Whether you are an athlete or bodybuilder or someone who simply wants to supplement with protein for its health benefits, you can choose either dairy-based or plant-based protein powders. If you are intolerant to lactose, choosing a plant-based protein powder might be a better choice for you.



[1] SFGate, “Do we store protein?” Accessed on June 22, 2018. 
[2] Harvard Medical School, “How much protein do you need every day?” Daniel Pendick, June 18, 2015. 
[3] Nootropics Info, “Casein,” Accessed on June 22, 2018. 
[4] Yuri Elkaim, “Plant-based protein vs. whey protein showdown: Which is better?” Yuri Elkaim, accessed on June 22, 2018. 
[5] Susan G. Komen Foundation, “Komen perspectives: Answering questions about soy and breast cancer,” April 2015. 
[6] USDA, “Recent trends in GE adoption,” July 12, 2017.

Author Bio: Amy Summers is an avid health nut. She is a contributor to several lifestyle, health, fitness and supplement blogs. When she’s not exercising or writing, you can find her outdoors with her dogs or in a local bookstore!

John Welborn

My name is John and I'm a certified Fitness and Fat Loss Coach. I help individuals get in the best shape they've ever been in and teach them to maintain it for good. I've got a Bachelor degree in Exercise/Sports Science, Associate's degrees in health science, accounting, business, and chemistry, 2 RockTape Kinesiology Taping Certifications, and an ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Personal Training Certification.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. As someone who is an ectomorph (just observed this out about a 12 months in the past), i had NO idea why i wasn’t able to placed on any weight. I notion i used to be lifting sufficient, concept i used to be getting sufficient food, however NOPE. Apparently as an ecto, you need MORE MORE MORE to make any type of gains.

    1. Interestingly enough, current research has showed there are more than just those three body types. Some “ectos” still respond well to traditional approaches while others do not. Genetics, progressive overload, quality of food, etc. all play huge roles. I’m glad you found something that is working for you Nathan! Keep it up man. #GainsForDays

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