Choose Your Protein: Your Goal Matters

If you need to get more protein in your life, for whatever reason, you could eat more foods high in protein as many dietitians insist -- but if you have a slow metabolism or just can't eat enough to equal all the protein you need to get daily, it might be better to look at supplements. You have many variations to choose from, all available in different flavors. It can be difficult to choose between them and especially the top three of whey, soy, and pea, unless you know your personal goals regarding protein intake.

Building Muscle

If you are increasing your protein intake in order to help build muscle, whey is the protein you want to use. The protein in whey breaks down more easily. That allows your body to use it more efficiently and apply it to muscle growth. In fact, there are reports that protein synthesis in the body increased by 70 percent after subjects ingested whey protein (in comparison, casein, another main protein in milk, bumped up synthesis by only 30 percent, even though both whey and casein come from milk).

Getting Complete Protein

If you're trying to eat more protein so you get a complete protein, either soy or whey will work for you. Vegans will want to use soy that does not contain any animal products, of course (there are some brands that combine protein types in one product). Note that pea protein is not a complete protein. There are some sites that claim it is, but the protein comes from yellow split peas (the dried soup peas), which are not complete proteins.

Avoiding Allergens

One of the main problems with soy and whey is that they are derived from two of the most allergenic foods around, soybeans and milk. If you need to avoid these foods due to an allergy, pea protein may be better.

Hormonal Protection

A study published in 2013 noted that soy protein could negatively affect testosterone levels. If you are concerned about exposure to too much estrogen (soy is packed with a type of plant estrogen known as isoflavones), you may want to avoid soy, as well as other products that have isoflavones.

If your need for extra protein stems from or involves a medical condition, speak with your doctor first about your choice of protein supplement. Choose the one that fits your needs the best, and start experimenting with different flavors and shake recipes.

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