Occasionally I’ll see questions and comments on blogs and forums asking what’s the best whey protein for women or for men. Although there are some very obvious differences between the female and male body, when it comes to protein and protein synthesis our bodies act exactly the same.
For that reason, any high quality whey protein will work well for both women and men.
Why Whey Protein?
The benefits of whey protein are many. To start with it is a complete protein, that is very quickly and efficiently digested by our bodies. This makes it an ideal supplement both before and after workouts. Other foods that are considered complete proteins include meats, dairy and eggs.
However, unlike whey protein, these foods take a long time to break down into a usable protein source for our bodies. I always recommend whole foods as the significant source of calories in any diet, but when you need protein fast, there are few better ways to get it.
The fact that whey is a complete protein means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need to absorb from the food we eat. But even more importantly from the perspective of muscle and strength gains, it contains high amounts of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s). BCAA’s are especially important in that they supply our bodies with fuel during exercise. If you’re not getting enough from an outside source, your body will get these amino acids from your existing muscle. And that’s not at all what we want.
The high levels of BCAA’s in whey protein provide your muscles with this important fuel without having to cannibalize your muscle tissues. One of these amino acids in particular, leucine, stimulates protein synthesis. It tells your body that you need more amino acid storage capacity. The primary storage for amino acids in the human body is muscle. So more storage requires more muscle. And that’s exactly what we DO want.
Best Whey Protein for Women and Men
There are several types of whey protein on the market today. Determining which is the best for you is less about whether you’re male or female, and more about your budget, goals, taste, and preferences.
Whey protein concentrate is the least expensive of the bunch. It has a lower overall protein concentration, but is still in the 55% to 90% protein range. The rest of the mix is composed of fats, milk sugars, and other leftovers from the milk from which whey is derived. These include immune-enhancing peptides such as alpha-lactalbumin and immunoglobulins, which are actually beneficial to our bodies.
Whey protein isolate on average contains about 95% protein by weight. Most of the other compounds such as fat and lactose are filtered out. This additional processing is the reason that whey isolate is more expensive than concentrate.
Last but not least, whey protein hydrolysate is another variety of why available on the market today. It is further refined to 99% protein by weight. Because it is so refined, it is generally the worst tasting. But the high percentage of protein makes it very quick to digest. However, gIven the price difference between it and isolate, I’m not sure it’s worth the extra money.
Although this comprises the three basic formulas of whey, there are other options as well. Some people prefer to consume only organic food products. To meet this demand there are a whole host of organic wheys on the market.
Grass fed beef has become very popular in recent years. An extension of this is grass fed whey. The idea behind this is that you are eating what the cow eats. More and more evidence points to grains being one of the causes of obesity and other weight related conditions. I’ll touch more on this in future posts on the Paleo Diet and other similar diets.
Needless to say, the more specialized the product, the higher the price you will pay. A good example would be a basic whey protein isolate on Amazon.com costs roughly $10 per pound, while a grass fed whey costs around $20 per pound.
Whichever route you chose, whey is a great way to supplement before and after a workout. Check out our recipes section for a great egg nog protein shake.