Is protein powder artificial? Is it just for serious athletes?

If you’re confused about protein powder and ask whether it is only for “serious lifters” or whether it is just for athletes, read on!

Key benefits:

  • better intensity in workouts
  • better recovery from your workout
  • better results from your session
  • helps you to achieve your protein goals

Know your whey: First of all, protein powder comes into many different forms and that depends on the source.

Whey protein powder comes from milk and can be described as a concentrate, isolate or a hydro isolate (the latter of which have less lactose). Isolates and hydroisolates are like the Rolls-Royce of whey proteins, they are faster absorbed and rapidly acting. Concentrates are all purpose (great for mixing into breakfast, baking, cooking, and of course drinking), are very fast absorbed and tend to be slightly more economical.

Vegan protein powder comes from plant sources such as pea protein, rice protein, soy protein etc. Great as a vegan alternative to whey protein.

Casein Protein powder comes from milk as a by-product in the cheese manufacture process. It is a slow release protein and tends to be favoured by consumers as a late night snack as it releases a steady stream of amino acids into the blood and this can be useful when you are unable to eat because you are asleep, and do not want to have a large solid meal before bed time.

Is protein powder artificial?

People have been using whey for centuries. Think Little Miss Muffet, along with her curds she ate (what….?) Whey! Curds and whey. Whey is a high protein food which is not only a complete protein because whey contains all of the amino acids which are considered essential for the human diet, but it is also antimicrobial, highly bioavailable and the aminos in whey are absorbed faster by the body than an egg4.

Since whey (and vegan protein powder) is rapidly absorbed by the body, it is a great option prior to a workout3. When you are looking for great performance in the gym, the last thing you want is the majority of your blood to be in your digestive system instead of in your muscles. Since solid food can take 4-12 hours to digest, a faster absorbing protein can be a great option1. Often a protein shake and a light piece of fruit, such as an apple or a plum will be a great option to get you the intensity you need from your workout when consumed in the

Likewise after a workout, you might consider having (vegan/whey) protein powder. Post workout, your muscles have been destroyed by the gym. The muscle repairs after your gym workout. When your body doesn’t have enough protein, it cannot manufacture protein from carbohydrate or fat as both lack the nitrogen molecule which is required to make amino acid protein. Therefore if there isn’t enough protein available at the time then the body has to use the muscle protein from your own body to repair! That means less potential for you to build that metabolically more active muscle, which will help you get stronger, leaner and look more toned2. If you eat food right after you workout, solid food can take 4-12 hours to be broken into amino acids in order to repair the muscle, and valuable “repair energy” is being put into digestion rather than muscle repair2. Whey/vegan protein is a smaller molecule which requires less energy to be digested as a few of the digestive processes have already occurred (physical size of protein powder is already broken down into smaller particles for ease of digestion)1.

Basically whey/casein protein is another form of food: it isn’t an artificial protein as it is derived from milk (or vegan protein powder from plants). Those who might consider taking protein powder are not just athletes but instead people who are searching for a convenient option to help them achieve their protein intake, or people who want to get more bang for their buck in their workout with better performance in their session3, better result from your workout, and better recovery1.

Some more reasons that you might opt to have a whey protein powder is because it is low fat (fat slows down digestion), it is low carbohydrate (for those who are limiting carbohydrate intake), and it is more convenient than carrying around a similar amount of say chicken breast (25g would be about 85g of cooked chicken breast).

Click here for some of our top picks when it comes to protein powder!

  1. West DW, Burd NA, Coffey VG, Baker SK, Burke LM, Hawley JA, Moore DR, Stellingwerff T, Phillips SM. Rapid aminoacidemia enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic intramuscular signaling responses after resistance exercise. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):795-803. Epub 2011 Jul 27.
  2. NBJ’s Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss Report 2007-2008. Nutrition Business Journal. Boulder CO. New Hope Natural Media, January 2008.
  3. Paul GL. The rationale for consuming protein blends in sports nutrition. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Aug;28 Suppl:464S-472S. Review.
  4. Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 23;94(26):14930-5.