Your ultimate guide to understanding meal replacements and powders…

If you’ve paid any attention to fitness in the past couple of years, you might have noticed that there is a lot of talk about and meal replacements and powders, such as protein powders.

With all the publicity they get, you might think they are basically synonymous with a fitness lifestyle. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume this and there are quite a few reasons for this. Protein is an essential part of the human diet. They go hand in hand with carbs and fats in just about every meal.

However, something makes proteins particularly special. They are used to build muscle fibres and consuming them during and after a workout can provide you with a ton of benefits. You won’t find a dedicated fitness enthusiast without a bottle of these things so it’s best you get to know them thoroughly.

1. Concentrates vs isolates

When it comes to protein powders and sources, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Every source of protein will contain protein, but the percentages may vary. This is where concentrates and isolates come into play. The only difference is how much protein you get. Concentrates are made by separating the protein content from a source until you are left with at least seventy per cent pure protein. The rest is going to be a bit of carbohydrate and minimal fat.

Isolates take this process a step further. The substance is processed quite a bit until you get the desired result. The process of isolation gives you a protein source that is at least ninety-five per cent pure protein. The tiny percentage left is going to be pure carbohydrates.

Either of these sources can help you build lean muscles after a workout. The difference in efficiency is a debated topic. Despite the fact that you get more protein from isolates, you still need a number of carbohydrates to function. Cutting them out entirely won’t make you all that much leaner.

2. Soy protein

Soy is one of the most versatile plants you can use in your diet. It has a range of health benefits that can’t be disregarded. Not to mention, it’s also a poster boy for eco-friendliness. Many meat analogues are made with soy proteins and they’re just as nutritious as the real thing. Some even suggest that soy is a better alternative to meat.

The reason soy has racked up such a good reputation is because it’s one of the few sources of protein that contains all the essential amino acids. This means you won’t have to take anything to supplement it if you want a complete diet.

The protein extract from soy offers a ridiculously wide array of health benefits. Even if you disregard the fact that it can help you swear off meat entirely, it still has a few tricks up its sleeve. The protein from soy is said to help boost the immune system and its responses. Bones appreciate us when we eat soy because it promotes their growth and strength. It’s a very rich source of protein that doesn’t cost much and it also helps you save the environment.

3. Whey protein

You would be hard pressed to find a protein supplement as popular as whey protein. It’s become a staple of modern fitness and just about everyone is using it for one purpose or another. You might be wondering what makes it as good as people say it is. Whey protein is a by-product of the process of turning milk into cheese. Its multifunctionality comes from the fact that it promotes lean muscle growth while also affecting weight loss. It’s not very hard on your digestive system since it’s pretty easy to absorb. This also makes the ideal post-workout recovery supplement. Take a couple of sips and you’re back on that treadmill in no time. It’s always been a popular choice for those looking to gain quite a bit of muscle mass at the gym, but recently people have been clamouring to get it for the weight-loss benefits.

The way it works is pretty simple. It’s a rich source of protein that contains a relatively small amount of carbohydrates. And carbohydrates are what makes us gain weight. The carbs that whey protein does have are also pretty healthy for you compared to other kinds.

If you replace a meal with a whey protein shake, you’re going to feel full while also getting all the necessary nutrients you need from the shake. Plus, you’re replacing something that would have made you gain weight. Let’s not forget another important benefit of whey: it’s ridiculously cheap. The affordability and many uses of whey make it one of the top choices for fitness gurus everywhere.

4. Casein protein

When it comes to milk products, casein protein is one of the best things to come out of an udder in a long while. Milk is one of the greatest sources of nutrients in the world. It’s no wonder that every mammal has evolved to use this rich source of protein and minerals. For millennia humans have harnessed this natural resource to its fullest extent and made great things. Products like cheese and yoghurt are essential parts of the western diet that won’t be replaced any time soon. Those with a penchant for fitness have also figured out how to get the most out of the protein part of milk products.

Casein protein is produced by using a separation process which is applied to liquid milk. It isolates and concentrates the protein part while leaving out the carb and fat aside. Casein offers a range of benefits that are similar to whey protein. The key difference is that there is a disparity in how long it takes for it to be absorbed in the digestive system.

Casein protein breaks down pretty slowly, which might not make it the ideal choice for a post-workout regeneration. Instead, fitness experts say that this protein should be consumed right before bedtime. This way, your body can slowly absorb the proteins while you sleep and it won’t make much of a difference how long it takes. This is why this marvel of pure protein is best used as a bedtime shake.

Your path to fitness

In conclusion, protein extracts have become an essential part of gym and fitness life. They aren’t the holy grail of protein sources and you can be lean and thin without them. However, they provide quite a few benefits that make the whole process much easier, which is probably why they are the most popular gym and workout supplements by far. If you take your daily dose of protein and replace a meal or two, you’re going to gain muscles and lose weight at a much faster pace than ever before.

Just make sure you complement these proteins with a nice workout plan.


Mia Johnson

About Mia Johnson

I'm a freelance writer with a ten-year long career in journalism. I have written extensively about health, fitness, and lifestyle, of late for True Protein. A native to Melbourne, I now live in Sidney with my three dogs where I spend my days writing and taking care of my 900 square feet garden.