April 8th, 2014

A Protein Primer

Whey? Hemp? Soy? Pea?


Protein powders are produced from many different sources. How to tell which is right for you.

Adequate protein intake is very important for the body to function properly—especially under stressful conditions. Protein helps your body repair cellular damage and creates new cells. These new cells are important building blocks of healthy tissues and body fluids such as blood and lymph.

Protein powders are becoming more and more popular as sources of high quality protein. Vegetarians and vegans find the plant-sourced proteins especially helpful for ensuring they meet their daily protein needs, and health-conscious athletes and fitness enthusiasts appreciate the superior ingredients and convenience of use associated with protein supplements.

Hemp: Hemp protein is a complete vegetarian, gluten-free protein derived from hemp seed. It has higher protein content than nuts and other seed sources, dairy products and meats.

Hemp protein provides essential fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3), in perfect balance. Hemp also contains GLA (gamma linolenic acid), another omega-6 fatty acid, shown to support healthy hair, skin and nails, and to help hormone balance. Hemp protein provides a well balanced array of the 10 essential amino acids. Almost two-thirds of the protein consists of edestin, a plant protein that resembles protein found in the human body and is perfectly suited to meeting the body’s cellular needs such as DNA repair. Another one-third of hemp’s protein profile is albumin, a high-quality protein that is also plentiful in eggs.

Other plant proteins: Other plant proteins include soy, pea and rice protein. Soy protein is a relatively inexpensive form of protein derived from soybeans (Glycine max), and is commonly included in supplements and food products. Aside from all the essential amino acids, it contains isoflavones—plant chemicals with weak estrogenic activity that are helpful for women experiencing menopause.

Rice and pea protein are often used together. Both are incomplete sources of protein that, when blended, provide a complete vegan protein source with all essential
amino acids. Rice and pea protein in combination form an ideal protein source for vegetarians with allergies to dairy and/or soy.

Whey: The most popular form of supplemental protein, whey protein is derived from milk. When milk is coagulated—such as during the process of cheese-making—it separates into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). Whey is a complete source of essential amino acids and is available in three forms:

Whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH).

WPC contains low levels of fat and carbohydrates (lactose). WPI is further processed to remove all fat and lactose. For this reason, it usually consists of at least 90 per cent protein.

WPH is a predigested form of whey protein that has undergone partial hydrolysis—the process that takes place before protein is absorbed into the body.

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