Protein: Egg, Whey, Soy, Rice, or Casein?

Last week when I was ordering my superfood from BOKU, I stumbled upon their brown rice protein powder and started reading up on this newer type of protein. I’ve always been very off and on with incorporating protein powders into my diet…in high school I was very into whey protein, then after college I would occasionally use casein, and now I’ve decided to try the brown rice. I realized that my choice of protein stems mostly from what my friends use or whatever the current fad is, so I decided to do a bit of research on each type of protein powder and which is right for me. Here’s what I discovered about each of the powders, and which ones I’m going to use going forward.

Egg Protein: Easy to guess from it’s name, egg protein comes from egg whites and therefore makes it a lactose-free protein powder. Similar to whey, it is a fast acting protein which means it is quickly absorbed by the body (1.5-3 hours). Fast acting protein powders are best taken pre/post workout to help repair fatigued muscles and allow you to quickly recover from a tough workout. It’s often recommended for those who are lactose intolerant or have allergies, and it’s low calorie so it can be used for those looking to reduce body fat. One of the main cons is for the price, you may be better off hard boiling or cooking eggs–especially since egg protein only consists of egg whites, while an egg contains more nutritional value when consumed whole.

Whey Protein: Whey seems to be the most popular of the protein powders. It’s definitely not an expensive product and it’s fast acting so it’s great when consumed pre/post workout. It is a protein derived from milk and therefore is not good for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. Studies have shown that it can boost the immune system and has the highest biological value of all proteins (Biological Value measures and rates the overall effectiveness of a protein on a scale of 1 to 100).

Casein Protein: Casein is very different from egg and whey protein because it’s a slow acting protein. As opposed to promoting muscle growth, casein’s function is more muscle stabilizing and preserving. Because it’s slow acting, digestion is a much slower process and as a result, not all of the protein is utilized by the body. It’s recommended to be consumed before bed or for someone who eats few meals per day. I typically eat smaller snacks throughout the day as opposed to taking long spurts between meals, so this is a protein I use before going to bed or on weekends when I’m not as good about eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.

Soy Protein: I’ve read very mixed reviews about soy. Soy is the only plant protein that is considered to be a “complete protein” and most soy proteins have no fat. This would likely be a good option for a vegan/vegetarian looking to incorporate protein powder into their diet. However, it can be highly allergenic and is said to have possible hormonal side effects. Also, there have been discussions that there are more health benefits to eating actual soy products (soybeans, tempeh, tofu, etc.) as opposed to consuming it in powder form.

Brown Rice Protein: Brown rice protein is another plant based protein derived, obviously, from brown rice. For a plant protein, it offers a high number of amino acids…and while its amino acid content might not be as impressive as whey, it’s best known for it’s great taste, decent texture, and natural properties. For anyone on a plant based diet, this protein powder seems like the way to go. I’m definitely a meat lover but am really impressed by the reviews I’ve read on brown rice protein…and it seems like it can be incorporated into a lot of different foods (think baking, pancakes, smoothies, sprinkled on cereal, etc.).

For me personally, I’ve chosen either whey or casein protein the past few months…whey for my post workout smoothies, and casein for smoothies before bed or mixing into a pancake mix when I know I’ll be going awhile between meals. Because I’ve read such great things about brown rice protein, I decided to order some last week and plan to start switching between whey and brown rice for my workout smoothies. Also, if you’re like me and were hesitant to start making smoothies because they might not be delicious/might make my muscles look bulky, try the smoothie below and I promise you will love it!

Peanut Butter/Fruit Smoothie

1-1.5 cup ice

1-1.5 tbs all natural peanut butter

1 handful of berries (I like using blackberries or raspberries…blueberries or strawberries work too!)

1 heaping scoop of vanilla protein powder

1 tsp chia seeds

1/2 sliced banana

1/3 cup almond milk

Combine contents in blender and mix! I love my smoothies thick but if you like yours more on the runny side, use a smaller amount of ice and 1/3 banana instead.