Do you want to bulk up? Do you want to diversify your diet to include more protein? If so, investing in protein powders may be a great option. However, it’s not easy to choose the right type.
Luckily for you, we’ll dig into the differences between whey protein and plant protein so that you can make an informed decision in choosing either one.
Protein in general
To better understand the differences between whey protein and plant protein, let’s start by understanding how proteins work.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that grows muscles, repairs tissues, makes hormones and enzymes, and helps in weight management. They are essentially your body’s workers if your body is a factory.
Protein powder is a great protein source if you want a little extra for building muscle or other health purposes. The powder can be extracted from animals (whey) or plants and has very high protein concentration with a little bit of fat and carbohydrates.
Whey protein comes from milk. It is high in branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). These help with lots of functions in the body: increase muscle growth, reduce exercise fatigue, prevent muscle wasting, decrease muscle soreness, boost the immune system, etc.
There are two kinds of whey protein available:
- Whey protein isolate- is made of 90-95% pure protein.
- Whey protein concentrate- is made of 30-90% pure protein and has higher lactose.
Unlike whey protein, plant protein can come from various sources: hemp, brown rice, pea, soy, chia, pumpkin, and many other plants. If you’re a vegan, plant protein will be your best friend.
Plant protein, because it comes from plants, has different antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that offer extra benefits.
In terms of gaining and maintaining weight, both whey and plant protein are good choices.
Both are great if you are looking to add protein powder to your diet to get extra calories in addition to protein to stop unintended weight loss, promote healthy weight gain, or just maintaining your growing muscle mass.
Both also have all three BCAAs (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) and are thus perfect for weight gain and maintenance.
Even if both are high in protein, nutrition is one aspect where whey and plant protein significantly vary.
Here are their differences:
- Whey protein has a lower nutrient density but fewer calories than plant protein.
- Whey protein has higher calcium content.
- Whey protein contains B-vitamins.
- Plant protein tends to be higher in carbohydrates.
- Plant protein has higher fibre content.
- Plant protein contains essential fatty acids.
- Plant protein has higher amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
As we can see, both whey and plant proteins have their advantages in nutrition. It depends on your preference which type of protein powder works for your needs.
It may vary from person to person, but whey protein generally is harder to digest than plant protein because of its lactose (sugar found in milk) content. This bit is especially true if you have lactose intolerance.
On the other hand, plant protein is much easier to digest because it doesn’t have lactose and even has high fibre to ease your digestive process. However, plant protein may taste blander than whey protein. There are pros and cons for every situation between these two.
Which protein is for you?
By now, you probably already know which protein powder you’re going for. It helps to still look at the ingredients and compare them to understand what your body needs. We think it’s best if you first try the plant protein because of its antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for a well-rounded experience.