Foreverfit explains the differences between 6 popular workout supplements. 

You may know that at least 20-30% of your diet should comprise of proteins. The best source of proteins is animal based whole food. But at times, you may not be able to meet your daily requirements through your diet.

In this circumstance, protein supplements are useful to improve your health, performance, and physique, and help you meet your fitness goals.

Hardcore body builders or athletes rely on a variety of supplements, since their protein requirements are higher than average. In such an instance, here are 6 kinds of supplements to choose from:

#1 Whey protein
This is the most popular protein supplement, as it is easily and quickly digested.  Milk has two types of proteins: whey and casein. Whey is the thin liquid left after you curdle milk, and contains all 9 essential amino acids.

Supplements of whey protein contain the most important muscle-building amino acids called leucine, isoleucine and valine and may be taken before or after a workout.  Whey protein has many proven health benefits. It builds lean muscle, increases blood flow to the muscles, lowers oxidative stress in athletes and relieves muscular fatigue.

Additionally, it aids in weight loss, has anti-cancer properties, lowers cholesterol levels; lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease, reduces stress and increases your serotonin levels.

Word of caution: Whey protein should be avoided by those lactose intolerance, or specifically allergic to this substance. Excessive doses can cause stomach cramps, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, and fatigue.

Recommended dosage: 20 g of whey first thing in the morning, 30 minutes prior to workout and 30 minutes after workout.

Types of whey protein

  • Whey protein concentrate: contains low levels of fat and lactose. The percentage of protein varies with the level of concentration. A milder form has 30% protein while the higher end ones have up to 90%.
  • Whey protein isolates: obtained after further processing of whey protein to remove fat and lactose. This has approximately 90% protein.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate: is a pre-digested form of whey protein that can be easily absorbed by the body. It is commonly used in infant formulas and medical dietary supplements due to its easy digestibility and low allergen quality.

#2 Casein protein
Casein is considered a slow protein, as compared to whey protein, since it releases amino acids into the blood only 3 to 4 hours of consumption. In contrast, whey protein has a quicker action time. But the advantage of casein supplement (classified as anti-catabolic) is that it drastically slows down the rate of protein breakdown.

In fact, you can take some casein protein, within 3 hours of consuming whey. This trick will help the body to balance protein synthesis and breakdown of protein from muscles, while maintaining a healthy level of amino acids.

#3 Egg protein
Egg protein is considered to be a better protein supplement than whey protein. It is lactose-free, rich in vitamins A, B, and D, and low fat too, if derived from pure egg whites. One scoop provides approximately 24 g of protein, so 2 to 3 scoops is enough to fulfill the daily protein goals of most adults.

But eating egg protein carries some risks. The first is that egg protein powder may contain dangerous pathogens such as salmonella, especially if the eggs are sourced from factory farms.

Also, egg protein may contain traces of antibiotics, hormones, and other toxins that are injected into chicken in factories. And thirdly, the presence of avidin- a type of protein that may bind with biotin (a B-vitamin)- may lead to hair loss, skin problems, and other health conditions.

#4 Creatine Monohydrate

supplement-02 Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements worldwide with proven and benefits. It is commonly available in the market as creatine monohydrate, which is naturally found in fish and beef. This by-product of amino acid metabolites is found in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, and stored in the skeletal muscle.

Studies confirm that creatine can increase muscle mass by approximately 10 pounds, and muscle strength by more than 10%. In addition, its rapid energy replenishing nature can boost performance in anaerobic activities such as weight-lifting and sprinting.

Because creatine it is stored in muscles, it draws more water and makes muscles fuller and stronger. Consequently, the rise in muscle volume helps trigger protein and glycogen synthesis. This compound is best used by those who want bigger muscles, or keen to enhance their performance and strength.

Time and dosage: Creatine monohydrate is taken in a load phase by consuming 5 g four to five times a day with meals, on the day of workout. Two doses are recommended, before and after a workout.

After the loading phase of 5 days, take 5 g per day along with whey protein, both before and after your work out as maintenance.

#5 Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
supplement-03 BCAAs are known to improve performance and promote faster muscle recovery, by increasing the body’s rate of protein synthesis. They reduce muscle breakdown, potentially leading to greater total muscle mass.

The three types of branched chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. When used as workout supplements, BCAAs boost the energy and strength, enhance muscle growth, and assist in weight loss. Leucine, the most vital amino acid of the three, increases the insulin levels, and assists glucose, amino acids, and creatine reach the muscles faster.

Time and dosage: In powder form, BCAAs can be taken in 5 g doses, two to four times daily, at any time, pre or post workout. Some take it throughout the day, or first thing in the morning to slow down muscle break down. In capsule form, 2 capsules are recommended, two to three times a day.

#6 L-Glutamine
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is produced by the muscles, and may also be obtained from all major food sources. This amino acid is important for immunity, and plays an important role in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, and anti-catabolism.

In addition, it enhances the body’s ability to secrete Human Growth Hormone,  which helps to burn fat and supports the growth of muscle. If your body uses more glutamine that your muscles can make, this may lead to muscle wastage. So anyone who undertakes intense workouts, and on a low carbohydrate diet must take this supplement.

supplement-04Glutamine is especially beneficial post workout, as it has the ability to re-synthesize the glycogen in muscles.

Time and dosage: For bodybuilders, 5 g of L-Glutamine is recommended two to three times a day. The best time to take L-Glutamine is early morning, post workout or at bedtime.