Protein is the building block of life. Every cell in the body contains protein, which helps repair body cells and tissues and forms new cells. The recommended dietary allowance of protein for an adult is 0.83g/kg of body weight as per the NIN ICMR 2020. At times food cannot fulfill the protein needs - whey or plant-based supplements are required to build muscle, support muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and maintain healthy weight.
Whey protein is a translucent, nutrient-dense liquid that contains all essential amino acids (molecules that combine to form proteins), vitamins, and minerals. It is made by adding enzymes to milk- the liquid that separates from milk during cheese production is whey, while the solid is casein. Whey is then converted to whey protein concentrate (WPC) or whey protein isolate (WPI) through micro-filtration and spray-drying.
Different Types of Whey Protein:
1. Whey Protein concentrate (WPC):
Whey Protein concentrate is the most widely used form of whey since it costs less and is minimally processed. It contains 80% whey and 20% carbohydrates, fats, and lactose.
2. Whey protein isolate (WPI):
Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey, primarily consumed by athletes and fitness enthusiasts due to its high protein (90%) and low carbohydrate, fat, and lactose content. Whey protein isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate and is the right choice
for the lactose-sensitive and diet-conscious.
It's the most expensive protein processed further by hydrolysis. The peptide bonds are broken with the help of digestive enzymes, which makes its absorption quicker than the other types of protein.
What is Plant Protein Powder?
Plant-based protein powders are derived from plant products like brown rice, pea, soy, and hemp seeds and are a good protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
Sources of Plant Proteins:
1. Brown Rice:
Brown rice protein is made by grinding and treating grain with an enzyme that separates starch from the protein. Brown rice is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and is readily available and inexpensive. However, it’s not a complete protein without lysine, an essential amino acid. Rice products are usually contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic.
Pea protein is made by grinding peas into powder. Contrary to popular perception, it’s made from yellow split peas, not sweet green peas. It is rich in iron, BCAAs, and arginine. Pea protein does not contain methionine, an essential amino acid, making it an incomplete protein. Studies say that it increases satiety and can help maintain blood pressure.
It is extracted from dehulled and defatted soybean meal. Among the plant-based proteins, soy is the only one that contains all the essential amino acids. It is rich in isoflavones, which may help lower cholesterol. Always buy non-genetically modified soy protein for safety.
Hemp protein is made from the seeds of cannabis and is rich in omega- 3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which improve heart health. Hemp protein is low in the amino acid lysine and should be consumed with legumes such as quinoa and rice to fill the gap.
The Difference Between Whey Protein & Plant Protein
1. Difference on the basis of Quality:
Whey proteins are complete proteins since they contain all nine essential amino acids. The body cannot make essential amino acids- we have to take them through food or supplements. Whey proteins are a good source of essential branched-chain amino acids: Leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which help in muscle synthesis and recovery.
The protein content of plant-based powders depends on their ingredients. Soy is the only plant-based protein that has all the essential amino acids. Some brands
combine plant sources to achieve the correct ratios as they contain lesser BCAAs than whey protein.
2. Difference on the basis of Digestion:
Whey Protein Powders are derived from milk, which can be hard to digest, causing flatulence, gas, and abdominal pain in those suffering from lactose intolerance or milk allergy.
On the other hand, plant-based protein powders are milk-free, less inflammatory and easy-to-digest. They’re high in fiber, which helps in digestion and absorption.
Many protein powders contain added digestive enzymes, which prevent gas and bloating.
3. Difference on the basis of Nutrition:
Whey proteins are complete proteins since they have all essential amino acids. They contain milk sugar lactose, which increases the absorption of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Lactose is absent in plant-based supplements. Whey protein supplements have less saturated fat and cholesterol, which is removed during processing.
Plant-based sources provide protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. They are free of saturated fat and cholesterol. However, plant-based proteins are not complete proteins as they lack one or the other essential amino acids, except soy, which is a complete protein.
4. Difference on the basis of Vegan-Friendliness
Individuals on a vegan diet cannot take whey protein since it eliminates animal based products. On the other hand, plant protein is a good option for vegans to fulfill their daily protein needs.
5. Difference on the basis of Cost:
The cost of both whey and plant powders depends on the brand.
Whey proteins are usually less expensive than plant proteins, which are new in the market and require a higher dosage. Some plant-based powders have a larger serving size- one consumes more powder in less time which may increase the price.
Always check the label before buying plant-based or whey protein. Do not compromise the quality of protein based on cost. Whichever protein you choose, buy from an authentic brand.
Whey isolate is the purest form of whey protein and has 90% protein. Steadfast Nutrition, India’s fastest-growing nutraceutical brand, has an exclusive variety of whey isolate supplements, with Warmax, Incredible Isolate, and Incredible Whey being the best whey isolate protein formulations.
Warmax protein: Warmax is an exclusive Steadfast formulation that provides 32 g of ultra-fast releasing whey isolate and hydrolysate, which improve stamina and performance. Warmax also contains L-Carnitine, which helps shred fat; L-arginine, which increases blood flow to muscles; and Rosehip extract, which helps reduce inflammation. Warmax is available in a yummy chocolate flavor.
Incredible Isolate: It provides 25 g of whey protein isolate, 11.4 g of essential amino acids, 5.4 g of branched chain amino acids, and 30 mg taurine, which improve performance and help in muscle recovery. The antioxidant taurine scavenges free radicals, improves insulin sensitivity, and supports rapid muscle recovery. Incredible Isolate is available in delicious chocolate and mango flavors.
Incredible Whey: It’s a blend of whey protein isolate and concentrate, which helps synthesize muscle mass and supports muscle recovery. Each sachet of Incredible Whey provides 24.8 g of whey protein, 10.9 g of essential amino acids, 5 g of branched-chain amino acids. It contains alpha lipoic acid, which improves cognitive function, Inositol, which reduces stress and anxiety, and Taurine, which reduces oxidative stress. It’s available in five enticing flavors: chocolate, vanilla, coffee, mango, and strawberry.