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The various types of protein

Get to know the various types of protein and what is the best use for each.

There are more and more protein supplements on the market from different sources.

We have all heard of the protein and the importance of its consumption. However, there are innumerable opinions regarding the different types of protein that exist, the ideal moment to take each and the daily amounts advised, according to the specificity of each individual.

In general, proteins can be divided into 2 large groups, according to their origin: proteins of animal or vegetable origin.

Animal proteins come from meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products. Proteins of vegetable origin come mainly from cereals, such as rice and oats, legumes, such as soya and peas, and hemp.

However, through feeding, ideal amounts of protein are not always ingested. As such, for many practitioners of exercise and bodybuilding, the use of protein supplements, which provide a greater concentration of protein, has already become a habit.

In fact, muscles are made up of protein and, after exercising, use the proteins available in the body to initiate the recovery, regeneration and growth of new, stronger muscle fibers than the previous ones. Hence the importance of protein intake shortly after exercise.

Types of Protein

Currently, there are several types of protein that can help you in this process.

Whey Protein

Whey protein, as its name implies, is a protein derived from milk, of animal origin. It is considered the queen of protein supplements, being the one that presents the best price / quality ratio, for those who are not vegetarian.

Its benefits are many, from potentiating muscle mass synthesis and recovery, when ingested in post-workout periods, through slimming and even improving the immune system.

As such, it is the most efficient type of protein for muscle recovery. This is mainly due to its amino acid profile being very similar to that of muscle (high biological value), but also to its rapid digestion and absorption.

However, Whey protein supplements are not all the same. There are basically 3 types of whey protein: the concentrated, the isolated and the hydrolyzed. It is their filtration process that allows them to differentiate them.

The first to appear on the market was Whey protein concentrated, whose protein content, as a rule, does not exceed 80-85%. In addition to protein, this supplement presents carbohydrates (lactose) and fat in its composition, constituting the simplest and therefore cheaper form of Whey protein.

Later came Whey protein isolated, with a higher purity and a protein concentration of at least 90%, exhibiting a better protein / dose ratio than the concentrate.

Subsequently, the hydrolyzed protein appeared. This type of protein undergoes an ultra filtration process and is enriched with BCAAs and digestive enzymes to help break down the peptides in their key amino acid units and facilitate better and faster absorption.


Casein is also a protein derived from milk and therefore of animal origin.

It is not recommended in cases of lactose intolerance, however, for those who do not suffer from this type of problem, it is a protein that promotes a longer lasting satiety due to its slower digestion and absorption (it takes 7h compared to whey that only takes time 1h).

Suitable for a meal substitute or ingested before bedtime, it promotes a slow and gradual release of amino acids, which prevents muscle catabolism (degradation).

Egg Protein

Egg protein was quite popular among athletes before the appearance of milk-derived proteins.

While being a type of absorption protein a little harder than Whey, it remains an excellent choice for those who want to avoid the proteins derived from milk.

It has a great nutritional and biological value and, as a rule, is cholesterol free, very low in carbohydrates and fats.

Beef Protein

As the name implies is a protein derived from red meat.

Ideal for those who want to avoid whey protein and egg-derived protein, it's still a rising protein, being used primarily by bodybuilders.

Being derived from red meat this protein has high levels of creatine and BCAAS, making it ideal for sportsmen.

Due to its specific manufacturing process, it does not normally contain fat or carbohydrates in its composition, although the taste is still far from the other options.

Hemp protein

This type of protein is extracted from hemp seeds. Hemp seeds, due to the high content of omega 3 and 6, are considered by many to be a real super food.

This protein Is derived from plants, being easy digestion and an ideal option for those who are more sensitive at the gastric level.

Hemp protein contains all essential amino acids, with a ratio similar to other complete sources of protein such as meat, milk and eggs.

Normally, its energetic value is high, since it has high content in lipids, resulting in a bad option for those looking to lose weight.

Vegetable Protein Blends

The major problem in most proteins of plant origin is the deficiency in certain essential amino acids, which makes them proteins of lower biological value compared to proteins of animal origin.

The solution found by the supplementation industry was to mix several protein sources into a single supplement to provide a complete aminogram (all essential amino acids) and meet the needs of vegetarians, gluten intolerants and lactose.

Another advantage of these protein blends is that they taste better than when isolated.

Soy protein

Of vegetal origin, contains 8 essential amino acids in its composition, being the ideal substitute the proteins of animal origin. Although not as protein as the previous ones, it is the protein most used by vegetarians or lactose intolerant.

Although the taste is not always the best, manufacturers increasingly rely on artificial sweeteners and flavors to improve this aspect.

Soy protein is quite rich in isoflavones and antioxidants, which improve cardiovascular function and are often used by women in the menopause process.

Pea protein

Still on the rise, it is a type of protein naturally free of fats and cholesterol.

It is also of plant origin, which makes it ideal for lactose intolerant, gluten and vegetarians.

Its taste is considered more pleasant than that of soy protein and the price is also quite enticing.

It should not be used as a single source of protein because it does not contain all the essential amino acids. It should be consumed in conjunction with other protein sources.


Recommended time for the consumption of different types of protein

The consumption of different types of protein should be adjusted to the different heights of the day and to the requirements of the organism in each of them:

Upon waking

Since it has been many hours without consuming protein, it is advisable to take a protein of medium absorption (egg protein) or of quick absorption (whey).

Before training

To ensure that the body does not use muscle proteins to get energy for the workout, we must take a fast-absorbing protein (whey or vegetable protein blend).

After training

The 30 minutes after the training constitute the so-called "anabolic window". It is at this moment that you should give the body as much nutrients as you can. These nutrients, more precisely the protein, will prevent muscle catabolism from occurring.

The most recommended protein for this time is Whey because it is rapidly absorbed. If you are a vegetarian or lactose intolerant, mixing plant proteins or hemp protein are good alternatives.

Before bedtime

From the moment you go to bed you will spend many hours without consuming protein. As such, it is advisable to take a slow release or slow absorption protein (casein or soybean).

To find out the best option for your specific case you can always advise yourself better with our Core partners.

Rui Madeira texto citing Rita Lima