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Protein is important for athletes to be able to recover from hard workouts and then build muscle. However, not all protein is the same, especially when it comes to powdered protein that so many athletes and fitness enthusiasts use on a regular basis. Two of the biggest powdered protein options on the market are plant protein and whey protein. Wondering which is right for you? Here are the differences.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is created from, of course, whey. While this is not an ingredient familiar to many of us, it’s not too foreign. Whey is a byproduct of cheese production that is collected, pasteurized and then dried before being turned into a powdery substance for athlete consumption.
What is plant protein?
Plant protein is made up of all kinds of amino acid-rich plants — oats, nuts, tofu, peas, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp, flax, etc. The list could go on and on. In many cases, the plant or plants in question undergo an extraction process (to separate the protein) and then are dried and re-hydrated to produce a powder substance.
What are the benefits of both?
Both plant and whey protein have their advantages and their disadvantages.
Plant protein is often suitable for vegans, those with lactose intolerance's or those with gluten intolerance's. Similarly, plant protein is also more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Plant proteins are lower in calories than most whey proteins, but this could be an advantage or a disadvantage to you, depending on your caloric goals. In addition to protein, plant protein supplements also contain nutrients like fiber and iron.
On the other hand, whey proteins are often more affordable than plant proteins. Additionally, whey proteins can be easier to shop for — you can just pick up any whey protein and it’s going to contain all nine essential amino acids. This cannot be said for all plant proteins.
Both protein options are similar in terms of the types of amino acids they provide, or at least, they can be, if you purchase the right brands. You will have to do a little bit of research to find brands that are comparable in terms of amino acids. But, at the end of the day, either can give you all the essential amino acids required to restore your muscles and grow new muscle strength.
Regardless of if you choose plant or whey protein, you can’t really lose. While each option has its advantages and disadvantages, both can help you optimize your training and support your muscle gains and health.
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