What is the Best Protein Shake to Build Muscle?

By on November 13, 2017

There is now an abundance of protein shakes available on the market. It can sometimes be confusing figuring out which one is right for you. Most people know that to build muscle we need protein and protein shakes, which of course, are high in protein. But there are differences in the types of protein shakes available on the market. Is there one that is optimal for muscle building? Hopefully, this article will shed some light on that question.

One of the most common sources of protein on the market is whey protein. Whey protein comes with a rich source of vitamins and minerals, lactose and usually has trace levels of fat. Whey protein also has high levels of glutamine and branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Whey is isolated from milk proteins with the other counterpart being casein protein. It is digested and absorbed very quickly and makes for an ideal supplement post-workout. Whey protein comes in different forms, each varying in protein quality, level of processing and protein quantity per gram. The various types of whey are listed below:

Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrate has the least available protein but is the least processed. Whey concentrate is produced by removing water, ash, some minerals and lactose. Because the lactose is removed, whey concentrate may be suitable for people with mild lactose intolerances.

Whey Isolate

Whey isolate is a purer form of protein powder. Whey isolate is more processed than whey concentrate to decrease impurities and increase the level of protein per gram. It is typically a very high-protein product, with around 90% of it being pure protein. It has low levels of fat and carbs.

Hydrolysed Whey

Hydrolysed whey means that the proteins have been partially broken down, therefore allowing an even faster absorption of protein into the bloodstream. Hydrolysed whey’s protein molecules have been broken down into smaller peptides by predigesting them with enzymes. This rapid absorption rate isn’t necessarily ideal. Studies have shown that the quick entry of amino acids into the bloodstream may result in the muscles not being able to cope and as a result, the proteins being stored as fat or excreted. Therefore smaller doses of hydrolyzed whey protein are suggested to counteract that problem. The other types of protein available on the market include..

Casein Protein

Caesin is the main protein found in milk, and it is often referred to as the slow release protein. The rate of digestion is slowed down because casein protein coagulates in the stomach and small intestines. This means that it’s absorbed into the bloodstream a lot slower than whey protein. Caesin protein contains all the essential amino acids and well as most of the standard non-essential amino acids making it a very nutritious food source.

Soy Protein

One of the downsides to plant proteins in their low concentrations of essential amino acids, specifically leucine. The exception is for soy protein. Soy has a similar among acid profile to that of milk, and so, therefore, is a great alternative. Milk protein is superior for muscle repair and growth, but soy protein has higher levels of antioxidants which may have its benefits.

From the information available it would be seen that the best form of protein to optimise muscle protein synthesis would be a protein derived from milk. Milk proteins are far superior to plant-based proteins when it comes to muscle protein synthesis. A whey isolate for fast absorption combined with casein that releases the proteins much slower would seem the best combination. This would deliver optimal levels of leucine and other essential amino acids that are needed to trigger muscle protein synthesis and are most beneficial for muscle hypertrophy.

Alex Mateus

About Alex Mateus

Alex is a personal trainer in the award-winning central London PT studio - Shaping Change. He is also a boot camp instructor, nutritionist and Pro Fitness model.