Protein powders are made up of a variety of ingredients, and what’s on the label often doesn’t accurately correspond to what’s actually in the bottle. In order to be effective as a weight-loss supplement, a protein powder must contain significant amounts of protein—and not just any protein, but whey protein. Things can get more confusing when you consider that some protein powders are derived from soy protein, while others are derived from milk protein.

As you’ve surely noticed, protein powders are a rather popular way to supplement your diet. They can be used to reduce cravings and keep you fuller as well as to build muscle. But, you may be wondering, what is protein powder exactly? Protein powder is a supplement that provides a high percentage of protein. The key difference with other protein supplements is that protein powder doesn’t need to be mixed with water or milk before drinking it.

Protein powders can be useful if you’re not getting enough protein from whole foods or if you need a convenient, portable protein source that doesn’t spoil quickly.

How are protein powders made? What is the difference between the types? Read on to find out.

What are protein powders?

Protein powders are food supplements that contain a high level of protein.

This protein comes from a variety of food sources, including

  • Rice
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Peas
  • Hemp
  • Soy
  • Cranberry
  • Artichokes

In addition to proteins, many manufacturers enrich their products with vitamins, minerals, herbs (dehydrated vegetables or other plant products), additional fats, grains, fiber and/or thickeners. The latter types of products generally contain significant amounts of carbohydrates and fats and are often considered meal replacement powders (MRPs) rather than pure protein.

Most protein powders are highly processed food additives. They need to be cleaned to avoid a foul taste and have a long and stable shelf life.

Treatment methods

Although protein powders are obtained directly from whole food sources, they are not themselves whole foods.

They are manufactured by extracting the proteinaceous component from foodstuffs through various processing methods.

Different protein sources require different processing techniques. As you can imagine, Z. B. extraction of rice protein from rice with high starch content in certain maneuvers.

Typical treatment methods are

Protein concentrates

Concentration is the process of high temperature drying and acid extraction to grind all the nutritional raw materials into concentrated protein powder. It’s reasonably priced.

During processing, other impurities (e.g. lactose, fat, cholesterol) can concentrate with the protein.

The concentrates end up containing about 60-70% protein by weight.

Protein concentrate

Another place to find concentrated protein

Protein isolates

The use of isolated proteins means that most of the proteins are isolated from the original food. This can be done by washing with alcohol, water or by the ionization process.

Each method has its own costs. Water costs the least and ionization the most.

After the isolate is made, it is subjected to a filtration process. At this stage, almost everything has been eliminated except for the protein. Minimal amounts of carbohydrates, fats, fiber and secondary plant substances remain.

Isolated proteins consist of about 90-95 percent protein by weight.

Protein isolate

Another place to find isolated proteins

Protein hydrolysates (hydrolysed)

Hydrolyzed proteins are formed by adding water to protein polymers and breaking them down into tiny protein groups called peptides. The size of the groups varies from 2 to 5 amino acids.

This is done to improve digestion. Hydrolysis is essentially a pre-digestion process.

The production of hydrolysed proteins is expensive.

Hydrolyzed Proteins

Another place to find hydrolysed proteins

Ion exchange protein

Ions are atoms or molecules that contain charge-bearing groups.

Ion exchange separates protein molecules from other food fractions by using electrical charges. This is the industry standard for processing milk proteins.

Ion exchange protein

Micro filtration, cross flow micro filtration, ultra filtration

These are powerful filtration processes that remove impurities from the concentrated protein component by passing it through the membrane. They are similar to the reverse osmosis processes used for water treatment.

Proteins treated by microfiltration

Why should I use protein powder?

Whatever your personal goals are, it is important to get enough protein. Protein can help you control your weight and body composition, as well as improve your muscle growth, immune function and recovery after exercise. (See All About Squirrels).

Protein powders can be useful if you’re not getting enough protein from whole foods or if you need a convenient, portable protein source that doesn’t spoil quickly.

After all, it’s much easier to slip a packet of protein powder into your gym bag than a chicken breast, and protein powder makes a better smoothie than steak, for example.

Numerous studies have shown the importance of protein for body composition and health, which is why protein supplements are among the most popular dietary supplements.

What you should know

Most protein powders have strengths and weaknesses.

Rice protein – hypoallergenic, gluten free, tasteless, economical. 100% vegetable. May be derived from genetically modified rice.

Egg Protein – Fat-free, concentrated in essential amino acids. Can cause stomach problems.

Milk proteins (including whey, casein, calcium caseinate and milk protein blends) – can boost the immune system, contain large amounts of BCAAs, contain lactose, are well researched. May cause indigestion or other symptoms in persons sensitive to whey, casein and/or lactose.

Pea protein – free of saturated fat and cholesterol, easily digestible, hypoallergenic, economical. Rich in lysine, arginine and glutamine. 100% vegetable origin.

Hemp protein – contains omega-3 fatty acids, contains fiber in most forms, contains no trypsin inhibitors, can be obtained raw, rich in arginine and histidine. 100% vegetable origin.

Soy protein – may be helpful in cardiovascular disease, contains some anti-nutrients, may come from genetically modified soy. 100% vegetable.

Cranberry protein – may retain antioxidants during treatment. Obtained from reconstituted cranberry seeds. Contains omega-3 fatty acids. 100% vegetable.

Artichoke protein is a source of inulin (a prebiotic). Rich in BCAAs. 100% vegetable origin.

Protein quality

Proteins can be classified according to their quality. The protein quality is determined by the following methods.

The protein efficiency ratio (PER) is based on the weight gain of the subject (rat) divided by the consumption of a given protein food during the test period. The above data were affected by methionine content. This method identifies the proteins required for growth and not for maintenance.

Net protein utilization (NPU) is the ratio of the amount of amino acids converted to protein to the amount of amino acids administered. Another way to look at it is the amount of protein a product delivers to your body, based on digestibility and amino acid composition. This test is influenced by the essential amino acids in the body and the limiting amino acids in the diet.

Biological value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of dietary protein that is absorbed into body protein. Consider to what extent the protein can be used for the synthesis of new proteins. Nitrogen retention is controlled. BV does not take into account how proteins are digested and assimilated. It can be affected by recent food consumption and cooking.

The Protein Digestibility Adjusted Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) is a method based on the amino acid needs of young children. The digestibility of proteins is taken into account. This is a newly developed indicator that is preferred as a measure of protein quality.

Summary and recommendations

Before choosing a protein powder, think about what you want to achieve with it.

Before choosing a protein source, determine its digestibility. (You may have to try this out).

The way you consume the protein powder will also affect your choice (e.g. shakes, puddings, bars, pancakes, etc.).

You get what you pay for. If you choose a cheap protein powder, you are likely to get more lactose, fats, fillers, etc. that were not removed during the isolation process.

If you use protein powders regularly, it may be helpful to switch to a different source every 2-4 weeks to prevent the development of an intolerance.

Most protein powders have similar recovery properties post-workout. The amino acid content of the different sources is also similar.

Additional appropriation

A packet of sugar contains empty calories because it contains only carbohydrates. What is the purpose of a bag of protein powder?

personally – for you.


Click here to see the sources of information referenced in this article.

Blom V.A., et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83:211-220.Tangney CC, et al. Review: Which meal plan is best for your patients who want to lose weight and keep it under control? Dis Mon 2005:51;284-316.

Layman DK, et al. Lowering the ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the diet improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr 2003;133:411-417.

Layman DK, et al. The role of leucine in dieting and glucose homeostasis. J Nutr 2003;133:261S-267S.

Layman DK, et al. Dietary protein and exercise have an additive effect on body composition during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr 2005;135:1903-1910.

Layman DK & Baum JI. The effect of dietary protein on glycemic control during weight loss. J Nutr 2004;134:968S-973S.

Rocha GA, et al. Casein hydrolysate microcapsules: Production, properties and applications in protein bars. Food Science and Technology International 2009;15:407-413.

Phillips SM, et al. Dietary protein to support anabolism during resistance training in young men. J Am Coll Nutr 2005;24:134S-139S.

Tang JE & Phillips SM. Maximizing muscle protein anabolism: the role of protein quality. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metabl Care 2009;12:66-71.

Tang JE, et al. Intake of whey hydrolysate, casein or soy protein isolate: Effect on protein synthesis in mixed muscles at rest and after exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol 2009;107:987-992.

Tipton KD, et al. Casein and whey protein consumption leads to muscle anabolism after resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36:2073-2081.

Tipton Kd, et al. Stimulation of muscle metabolism by resistance training and intake of leucine plus protein. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2009;34:151-161.

Kerksick C, et al. Position of the International Sports Nutrition Society: Schedule for nutrient intake. JISSN 2008;5:17.

ADA, Dietitians Canada, ACSM, etc. The American College of Sports Medicine position paper. Nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41:709-731.

Kerksick CM & Leutholtz B. Induction of nutrients and resistance training. JISSN 2005;2:50-67.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are benefits of protein powder?

Protein powder is a supplement that contains protein. It can be used to increase the amount of protein in your diet, or as a meal replacement.

What is the side effects of protein powder?

Protein powder is a supplement that is made from protein sources such as whey, soy, or egg. It can be used to increase the amount of protein in your diet. Protein powder may cause side effects such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and nausea.

Are protein powders worth it?

Protein powders are worth it if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. They can also be helpful for people who have trouble digesting food, such as those with celiac disease.

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