The plant protein vs. whey protein debate has been going on for quite some time. As an endurance athlete, understanding which one is the best protein powder for your body is crucial, so let’s go over the pros and cons of each, to help you decide!
Whether we’re professional athletes or nothing of the sort, by now most of us have already learned what protein are, and how important they can be for a healthy day-to-day life. Especially in the case of athletes, the best protein powder is a key ingredient for sustained endurance, recovery and rebuild.
So yes, we’re all aware of their importance, but today we’re going to take a closer look at their main sources and try to find out which works best for our body.
If you’re a daily visitor on websites like Gym Expert, you might have already learned about the eternal plant protein vs. whey protein debate. If not, we highly recommend it, but until then we’ll break everything down for you.
Plants VS. Whey: What’re They Made Of?
Much like the name suggests, plant-based protein is derived from natural products that contain a high level of amino acids. Some of them require very little or no processing at all, like in the case of nuts, oats or beans. Then there are others that may need some, like tofu or nut butter, but on a general scale, the amount of processing required for just one of them would equal that of a truck-load full of whey protein powder.
Speaking of which, whey is that liquid part that separates from milk when producing cheese. It was only recently found to contain a high level of protein, and it is really cheap. Once it separates from the milk, it will have to be heated, filtered, pasteurized, and then dried. Add preservatives and sweeteners and that’s it, you have whey powder protein ready to go.
Which One Is More Easily Digested & Absorbed?
One of the most important factors to consider in the plant protein vs. whey protein debate is the digestion process. Since the latter is directly derived from milk, this might affect any person suffering from a degree of lactose intolerance. At the same time, some of the additives used in both cases can not only interfere with the digestive process but also pose serious threats to one’s health.
In the case of plant-based protein things are a bit easier, as they are rich in enzymes and fiber that actively help digestion. And if you choose the whole plant over the powder form, that’s even better because you will eliminate the risks presented by additives.
Health Tip: Avoid any product that contains substances like sucralose, aspartame or maltodextrin!
In order to maintain a top physical condition, athletes must consume foods that are rich and dense in nutrients. The density level refers to how many nutrients a particular food offers per calorie. Aside from its high level of protein, whey powder does not bring any other nutrients to the table. At the opposite pole, plant-based protein not only deliver this but also pack several other important nutrients.
Which Protein Costs Less & Tastes Better?
Before people discovered its true potential, whey was mostly seen as waste and used to feed pigs. Considering these facts, it was only natural for the whey protein powder to end up being a lot cheaper than its alternatives. This is one of the main reasons for which it also became the bodybuilders’ favorite back in the 80s.
As to which one tastes better, this is directly related to the additives used in both cases. Supplement companies use them in order to reach the desired level of sweetness and taste, so there’s no actual winner here. It all comes down to each product in part and the level of additives it carries.
Since we’re talking additives, the level used for each supplement in part will also determine the level of calories it contains. Generally, those derived from plant sources contain a lower calories level per serving, usually somewhere around 90. The best protein powder in matters of calories is whey, which ranges between 100 and 150 per serving.
Studies have shown that the land requirements for producing animal protein are 10 times higher than those for plant-based protein production. The high levels required by the first massively contribute to global warming and pollution, through the sustained processes of deforestation, overfishing, and overgrazing. Thus, when it comes to sustainability, we have to strongly side with plant-derived protein.
Conclusion: What Should You Pick?
So far the cons of whey protein powder considerably outshine the pros. Aside from reduced costs and building muscle faster, there are not too many benefits left. Due to their much higher levels of fillers and additives, they can actually end up having a negative impact on your health.
On the other hand, plant-based protein also help with building muscle and recovery, but due to their additional level of nutrients, they might actually improve your health. In the end, it’s all about your needs and preferences, but we think we’ve made a pretty good case.