I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the differences in protein powders ever since I released Protein Bakes, and I wanted to break down some key concepts and explain a few things.
Are you not able to tolerate whey protein or are you just reacting to all the fillers, chemicals, additives, and low-quality whey? It’s likely the latter. It’s really important when you’re purchasing whey protein to ensure you’re getting the highest quality whey (from organic, grass-fed cows - ideally A2) and that it’s free of any additives, chemicals, sugar alcohols, sweeteners, or any other gut-damaging ingredients.
My preferred brand is Promix, as they source from organic, grass-fed A2 cows and are rigorously third-party tested for heavy metals, gluten, and any additives/contaminants. You can purchase it here and use the code FAMILY83 for 15% off!
Whey is going to be the go-to protein powder if you’re looking to lose fat, build muscle, or change your body composition. Whey protein concentrate powder is the least processed form of whey, tastes great, and has some immune-enhancing benefits. While it does contain some lactose, it’s minimal and those with lactose intolerance are not likely to experience any issues. This is the most popular whey protein and the one you’re most likely to find in stores.
Whey protein isolate powders, on the other hand, will have slightly higher levels of protein and even less lactose, fat, and carbohydrate. This is an ideal option for those extremely sensitive to lactose, however, it does tend to be more expensive.
Promix has both whey concentrate and isolate options in a few flavors.
Casein protein is another byproduct of milk (both casein and whey are byproducts of milk). It’s a slower digesting form of protein and has more lactose. Because of its slow digestion, I don’t recommend casein to be used post-workout when you want that more quick hit of protein. It’s historically been used by bodybuilders before bed to prevent muscle breakdown during the night, which could be helpful, but it could also be used in between meals as a way to promote fullness and reduce hunger. Casein powder is also thicker and more absorbent than whey protein powder, which makes it a great alternative or addition in baking.
I use both whey concentrate and casein in Protein Bakes to create texture and consistency. Promix also has casein options in unflavored and chocolate.
The short answer: no.
The longer answer: While you can replace whey protein for a plant-based protein powder, you’re not going to get the benefits of muscle protein synthesis due to its lack of a full range of amino acids and enough leucine. Without stimulating muscle protein synthesis, you don’t get the muscle-building effect, that you want in order to lose fat and change your body composition. This is why it’s best to opt for a whey protein powder.
The other issue with plant-based proteins is that they are ridden with heavy metals, so it’s not an ideal choice.
Promix does have a vegan protein powder made from pea protein isolate, which is tested for heavy metals.
If you really can’t tolerate any of the whey proteins above (see #1 above), your next best bet would be to try a beef isolate powder before going for a plant-based protein.
I hope that helps clear things up! If you have additional questions, let me know!